Time’s POTY: Facebook founder?

posted at 8:48 am on December 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Speaking as a former winner of the Time Person of the Year, color me underwhelmed by their choice this year of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  How do the rest of you POTY winners feel about it?

Meet the second-youngest individual ever to be named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of the omnipresent social-networking site Facebook.

You may feel as though you already know the 26-year-old. If you regularly use a computer, you probably interact with Zuckerberg’s Facebook empire on at least some level.

And maybe you’ve seen the acclaimed movie “The Social Network,” which portrays Zuckerberg as socially stunted, calculating and arrogant.

But is there more to this story? Yes, TIME editors discovered — and that’s what prompted the magazine to choose the multibillionaire CEO for the Person of the Year distinction.

Is there more to this story?  Well … no.  Their in-depth profile of Zuckerberg shows that he has a “weird calm,” and their in-depth interviews with people who depend on Zuckerberg for a paycheck finds that they “really like him.”  What a shock!  Truly, this is the most potent force of the year.

Apparently, Time didn’t know that Facebook launched in February 2004, and had achieved the status of most trafficked social network by the end of 2008.  If the issue was impact, it seems as though Time is two years too late in awarding this.

Honestly, though, what other real and significant impact has Facebook had?  It has spawned a Hollywood movie, which is probably why Time bothered to notice it after more than six years.  It’s a popular meeting space, and it allows people to reconnect to old friends, as well as waste vast amounts of time with imaginary farms and wannabe virtual Mafia dons.   Facebook is mostly a time suck.  At least Twitter had an impact last year in the attempt by the Iranian people to rebel against the dictatorship in Tehran.

We deal in politics, and so it’s possible that our perspective on the most significant trend or person this year is somewhat skewed.  However, it seems pretty clear that while Facebook allowed a lot of people to play, the Tea Party dismantled Barack Obama’s agenda and took both political parties by surprise.  Even Julian Assange would have been a better choice; while his impact was certainly malicious, he changed the way the world does diplomacy, at least temporarily, and opened a new front in radical transparency.  I have nothing against Zuckerberg, but this is a silly, insubstantial choice.


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You can tell how quickly the gulf rebounded from the spill since there has not even been a whiff of suggestions like Adm. Thad Allen or “top-kill” or Tony Heyward. At the time it was happening, who would have thought that the spill would be a non-story by Christmas-time?

TheLoyalOpponent on December 15, 2010 at 9:49 AM

It only rebounded so quickly because of the current administration. If Bush was still President, the media would still be leading off every broadcast with tales of ruined lives and livelihoods, and pictures of every oil-stained bird, fish, and beach. Gulf Coast survivors would be Time’s POTY for having made it through another Bush debacle. Somehow, all this misery didn’t occur under Hope-n-Changey.

PatMac on December 15, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Facebook certainly changed my life this year, I discovered my wife cheating on me by reading a Facebook message from her boyfriend. “Hoping we can one day be together” he wrote her.
I dont know if I should hate Facebook for giving my wife the means to communicate with her lover or if I should be grateful to Facebook for allowing me to catch her.
We are getting divorced, but right now she has the house, the kids and everything we own.

slednfool on December 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I would have gone with the Tea Party as well. Ed’s right; this is more Time Person of Several Years Ago Who We Overlooked. Exceedingly dull choice.

The last airplane I was on had Internet access available. The young woman in front of me spent the entire five-hour flight on Facebook and as soon as we were able to turn on our phones, she began texting. The Facebook generation. My young adult relatives are thoroughly put out by my refusal to join in their texting orgies. The idea that the routine minutia of their daily lives is not of the slightest interest to me in seemingly incomprehensible.

SukieTawdry on December 15, 2010 at 2:08 PM

You Don’t get 500 Million friends without buying a few.

woogs on December 15, 2010 at 2:57 PM

slednfool on December 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I joined AOL in the early nineties when the member total was a touch over 300,000. A little less than four years later I was divorced and living alone in circumstances eerily similar to yours.

One night – during the separation that I had up until that point believed was occurring because I was a lousy husband – I received a phone call from the wife of the douche bag that my wife was having the on-line love affair with. She noticed that their credit card bill was rather large (on-line time at that point was billed hourly) and ended up locating me by searching through his email – she actually read to me some of the stuff that my wife had written him. Talk about a low point in one’s life.

Fifteen years later I can attest that this is the best thing that happened to me.

I won’t blow smoke up your skirt – but my gut tells me that you’ll be feeling much the same a few years from now.

You hang in there my friend.

oldfiveanddimer on December 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Like Time magazine matters anymore….

chalons on December 15, 2010 at 3:53 PM

I have nothing against Zuckerberg, but this is a silly, insubstantial choice.

Consider it Time’s answer to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize: fluffy, lightweight and insubstantial (except that this guy has run a company and created jobs).

ya2daup on December 15, 2010 at 4:13 PM

slednfool on December 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Sorry to hear about your troubles. Nobody should have to go through that. I hope things work out as good as possible for you, under the circumstances. Hang tough, you’ll get through this. We’re praying for you…

Flatlander

FlatlanderByTheLake on December 15, 2010 at 4:35 PM

I disagree… Facebook may have been around for a few years, but THIS is the year my grandmother, mother-in-law, distant aging aunts, etc., started using it. This is the year that saw Democrats lose a House majority due, in large part, to campaigning done primarily through Facebook by people like Sarah Palin and Tea Party organizers. This is the year that a unified Facebook login was adopted like mad by huge numbers of websites.

Etc…

DaveS on December 15, 2010 at 4:44 PM

They all saw the movie “the social network” about facebook and said hey lets have him.

tjexcite on December 15, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I find Facebook creepy.

What’s with the wanker roulette thing they lampooned on South Park? Really?

Akzed on December 15, 2010 at 4:48 PM

I thought they were going to choose Julian Assange.

/Good thing I’m not a betting man.

Machiavelli Hobbes on December 15, 2010 at 11:58 AM

That was funny, Machiavelli Hobbes!

You made me laugh.

Thanks.

William2006 on December 15, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Once again, Bon Jovi was snubbed, as were all of the hip-hop nominees.

Del Dolemonte on December 15, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Hip hop is rock and roll?

angryed on December 15, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Everything is, apparently.

Del Dolemonte on December 15, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Well, I particularly don’t care about this guy’s farm, fish, park, and/or mafia…

anuts on December 15, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Why the long face, Mark?

spinach.chin on December 15, 2010 at 5:05 PM

All this could have been avoided a decade ago if classmates.com was free. Seriously. Who knows how that site would have evolved if it had many users.

YYZ on December 15, 2010 at 5:15 PM

At least Twitter had an impact last year in the attempt by the Iranian people to rebel against the dictatorship in Tehran.

I must have missed that “impact” while watching the regime assert control. The again all my conservative were going ga-ga about, the result was as I expected at least.

jarodea on December 15, 2010 at 5:17 PM

A 20 y/o Facebook friend posted the following riddle:

Q. How many Americans does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. 10, because the other 9 are on Facebook.

FlatlanderByTheLake on December 15, 2010 at 5:24 PM

What’s with the wanker roulette thing they lampooned on South Park? Really?

Akzed on December 15, 2010 at 4:48 PM

That’s not Facebook. It’s Chatroulette.

DaveS on December 15, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Well, I knew it wouldn’t be Sarah because Time Magazine certainly wouldn’t want to remind their readers of the total whupping she helped give the Dims in November just about everywhere except where the Reid / Harrah’s Vega$ mob and Moocowski judges could fully corrupt the process.

viking01 on December 15, 2010 at 5:53 PM

This must’ve been a tough year for them. Obama’s unpopular so they couldn’t follow their hearts and give it to him again, and there’s no convincing Goldstein on the conservative side prominent enough for them to demonize instead (though I’m sure they at least talked about putting Sarah Palin up there).

My Man of the Year would probably be Chris Christi, though I’ll admit that’s a strained pick. No question as to the Thing of the Year, though: The stuxnet worm.

Blacklake on December 15, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Sorry, not a facebook fan.

I actually signed up, still have an account, but still have no use for it.

JMHO

cntrlfrk on December 15, 2010 at 6:04 PM

I’m a 50+ y/o techhie that sits at a computer all day. When I’m not working, I’m not eager to spend more time at a computer. Nevertheless, I’ve found it enjoyable to see what my friends are up to using FB. I lurk a LOT more than I actively participate.

I’m hearing a lot of criticism on here directed at folks who post ever little thing they’re doing. That sounds more like a criticism suitable for Twitter. However, I do have a few friends that overcommunicate on FB, and though I like these folks, they provide TMI. But FB has a simple solution to that, just Remove them from your News Feed (you don’t have to deFriend [gasp] them).

The rebel in me would prefer to dislike FB, but I like it because it can be a great way to stay plugged in with friends. But I control my FB experience, it doesn’t control me. Oh, and I’m so glad that the company I work for blocks access to FB. Otherwise nobody would get any work done!

FlatlanderByTheLake on December 15, 2010 at 6:21 PM

What the hell, the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave 0bama the Nobel Peace Prize. People who are important, are not important, it’s like everyone has turned into a crow and only wants bright and shinny, even if under the covering it is nothing but crap.

nwpammy on December 15, 2010 at 6:33 PM

$1

pain train on December 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM

All in all – a good pick – his impact is off the charts.

jake-the-goose on December 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM

..so was Hitler’s, Jame, so was Hitler’s.

The War Planner on December 15, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Asshat of the year must have been taken? The loss in human productivity due to Facebook is breathtaking. No one cares that you just got coffee.

JeffB. on December 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Is it just me or did Time Magazine alter Mark Zuckerberg’s picture to make him look more like a character from Avatar?

SoulGlo on December 15, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Never been on FB or MySpace. People I know who are tell me it’s a great way to keep in touch with people from high school and college. I didn’t like them then why would I want to keep in touch now? I’ve got the same 8 friends I’ve had since grade school. I want to catch up I make a call.

Alden Pyle on December 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Apparently Time is now counting the ‘invention’ of utterly useless Internet fluff that relies as qualification for greatness. What a pathetic joke. The guy who invented safety pins is more deserving of the title of POTY!

Dark-Star on December 15, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Asshat of the year must have been taken? The loss in human productivity due to Facebook is breathtaking. No one cares that you just got coffee.

JeffB. on December 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Is it just me or did Time Magazine alter Mark Zuckerberg’s picture to make him look more like a character from Avatar?

SoulGlo on December 15, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Never been on FB or MySpace. People I know who are tell me it’s a great way to keep in touch with people from high school and college. I didn’t like them then why would I want to keep in touch now? I’ve got the same 8 friends I’ve had since grade school. I want to catch up I make a call.

Alden Pyle on December 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

..three outstanding comments in a row! I have been a IT professional (read: programmer) for forty years and still don’t see the value of FB. If you want to blog, then just blog. Lie the man said, you can also use the phone or send an e-mail.

I also think Twitter is asinine and a monumental waste of bandwidth. I can’t fit the requisite amount of profanity or praise in 140 characters.

The War Planner on December 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM

The amount of busy paperwork (CMMI) has risen 1000% however. It must be better software, the completed checklists say so.

orbitalair on December 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM

Tell that to my father, who is under heavy fire for actually trying to make the Dilbert-ish crew at his workplace follow the most basic CMMI policies. Things like “don’t leave tapes with sensitive data sitting out in the open, and don’t hand them off to any yahoo who shows up at the door saying he or she is the delivery person.”

There aren’t even any mechanisms for checking up for compliance. But people are in freak-out mode because the auditors are in town and he’s shining some light on the hog-slop they call ‘coding’ and ‘procedure’. I’ll be praying hard tomorrow as he goes to a meeting, praying that the pointy-haired nincompoops don’t sack him in their keister-covering efforts and our family isn’t screwed with a capital S.

Dark-Star on December 15, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Asshat of the year must have been taken? The loss in human productivity due to Facebook is breathtaking. No one cares that you just got coffee.

JeffB. on December 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM

You are only half right. What KIND of coffee is my friend having? I MIGHT just want to know that.

Those of you that have issues with this choice sound like crybabies. As was already pointed out, take a look at the large Facebook widget on the right hand side of THIS VERY web site, as well as the share button at the top of the post.

And really, those of you with the “whaaa, my wife cheated because of FB” stories, get real, and buck up. Your wife/wives/girlfriends cheated because your relationship was crap. What happened to that “personal responsibility” mantra you Conservatives like to throw around?

your_worst_enemy on December 16, 2010 at 6:40 AM

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

People have been talking since Day 1. Teh Facebook is just another place where people talk…too much.

redwhiteblue on December 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Teh Facebook is just another place where people talk…

Uh, yeah. Here a clue: thats the point of the site. Its called being ‘social’ for a reason.

your_worst_enemy on December 16, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Uh, yeah. Here a clue: thats the point of the site. Its called being ‘social’ for a reason.

your_worst_enemy on December 16, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Being social just isn’t my idea of something worthy of POTY. But, if you think being social on a keyboard is life-changing then good for you. Now go read your Wall – or whatever.

redwhiteblue on December 16, 2010 at 10:24 AM

I will enjoy some crow wings this evening after predicting that the winner would either be Assange, the Tea Party movement, or Sarah Palin. I figured Assange would take it since TIME would be loathe to properly acknowledge the latter pair’s impact on the nation and the world, and the dude has abused the same technology that Zuckerberg has capitalized on to demolish government secrecy as we once knew it (and, possibly, diplomacy as well). Perhaps this was a decision made after a check of the balance sheet in a struggling economy, and they figured that putting the guy with “500 million friends” would sell better than the most significant grassroots political movement since the 1960′s (remember that they made the under-25 generation “Man of the Year” in 1966).

What really annoys me, though, is that in press coverage with the TIME editors, they don’t even acknowledge Palin as being among the potential finalists. Nobody can stop talking about her in the news media, for good or ill. They’re lying to themselves because of their frustration they haven’t yet rendered her irrelevant.

L.N. Smithee on December 16, 2010 at 10:48 AM

They should have had the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient but then what do you expect from a publication whose history includes Adolph Hitler in their collection for Person of the Year.

Hobbes on December 16, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I think it’s an inspired choice, for reasons I’m not sure even Time understands.

In the story of Zuckerberg we see the convergance of the key social and political phenomena of our time: invention, capitalism, social change, Hollywood and, most important to me, savage and mendacious Leftism (namely in the person of Aaron Sorkin).

I think it’s worthwhile for everybody to read about the real Zuckerberg, see the movie, and entertain a debate about both the marvels of capitalism and at the twisted and dehumanizing sociopathology of the Left.

Thank you, Time — you did us a favor.

rrpjr on December 16, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Well, Facebook does seem to factor largely in 20% of current divorce cases (apparently it’s a great way to hook up with friends and ex’s and rekindle old flames while your current flame is out of the house), so I guess it’s been impactful in that way.

Midas on December 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Well, Facebook does seem to factor largely in 20% of current divorce cases (apparently it’s a great way to hook up with friends and ex’s and rekindle old flames while your current flame is out of the house), so I guess it’s been impactful in that way.

And folks blame fb, instead of any underlying trouble with the marriasge, right? I Guess we ought to chain our partners to pipes in the basement so they cant see that maybe there is something out there other than the shithole they are currently living in.

Lets see, 200 years ago, if you were a crappy mate, I guess you were bouyed by the fact that you didnt have a lot of competition, and therefore didnt have worry.

Now you do? Awww. Where is that tiny violin again?

your_worst_enemy on December 16, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Well, Facebook does seem to factor largely in 20% of current divorce cases (apparently it’s a great way to hook up with friends and ex’s and rekindle old flames while your current flame is out of the house), so I guess it’s been impactful in that way.

Midas on December 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Lets see, 200 years ago, if you were a crappy mate, I guess you were bouyed by the fact that you didnt have a lot of competition, and therefore didnt have worry.

Now you do? Awww. Where is that tiny violin again?

your_worst_enemy on December 16, 2010 at 2:35 PM

What the bleep brought THAT on? You’re telling more about yourself than you think, enemy.

L.N. Smithee on December 17, 2010 at 7:09 AM

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