Time’s POTY: Facebook founder?

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.