I thank Time Magazine for this award, and offer the following thoughts at this time. Hopefully, the music won’t start playing before I’m done, and Whoopi Goldberg or Billy Crystal won’t escort me off the stage.
Many years ago, in the Peter, Paul, and Mary 25th Anniversary Concert (1986), Noel Paul Stookey did a comedy routine where the talked about the growing self-centeredness of society. I’m paraphrasing it here, but I think you’ll get the gist of his point.
Paul pointed out that our views of our society are often reflected by our media. In the 1940s, we had a broad view, and our media reflected that. There was a magazine called Life, and it took a broad view of life. Later, our view narrowed, and a new magazine was born: People. People are a part of life, but not all of life. Next we had Us. Us are a part of the set of people, but we are excluding them. What came next? Self. Of course, this is even further subdivided, as there is now a magazine called Inner Self. Paul hypothesized that one day there would be a magazine called Meeeeeee, which consisted only of 40 pages of reflective paper. I’ll note the the “80’s: A Look Back” hypothesized a best-selling magazine called Fred, which was for only people called Fred. Perhaps they knew what was coming up.
So now we have the “Time Person of the Year”. What’s on the cover? Aluminum foil, just as Paul Stookey predicted. Time Magazine indicates that their point is that one of the forces that proved seminal this year was the power of the individual through the web. Through blogging and journalling (such as we do here), though the posting of videos on sites like YouTube, through the connections being made through social sites such as MySpace (ugh). It is making people matter. We have lots of voices of varying quality, forming a chorus that has the power to overwelm, to trample like the bulls running in Paploma anything and anyone in their way. Time thinks this is a good thing, but then again, they named the Computer as the “Man of the Year” in 1982 (which actually was a very prescient article).
But have we gained anything? There was a reason that truly democratic models have failed: people are stupid, en masse. A republic of government, or representative democracy, allows a hopefully educated third party to balance out the blatent self-interest and truly stupid ideas to work for the common good. An editor in a newpaper or publication serves the same function: making sure that information is vetted, and has appropriate sources to back it up. We have seen (far too often) in the blogosphere that stupid ideas often taken on a life of their own, and it is far too easy for lynch mobs to form.
I also wonder if we aren’t being far too narcessistic in believing the the power of our journals and blogs. Yes, a small percentage of videos and blogs do have import, and many serve as useful news filters, but much the blogosphere and vblogosphere isn’t worth the paper on which it is printed (probably including a large percentage of LiveJournal, and an even larger percentage of MySpace). Blog and journals do serve a useful purpose in keeping people connected with each other in a more timely fashion (much as daily letters used to), but that is not worthy of POTY-hood.
So did Time Magazine cop-out in giving me this award (I know, from your perspective, they didn’t give it to me, they gave it to you). Surely there was someone better, someone more deserving. Did they pick the easy choice, so they didn’t have to do research and make the hard decision. I don’t know. Perhaps you are more deserving than I. But they gave it to me, and I’ve already cleared off space on the mantle for it.
So, I thank Time Magazine for this award. I promise to do my part and be a responsible blogger, and to only write about things of true import, like the grout in my bathtub and stubborn vegetation in a white house. I promise to express my true opinion of the musicals I see and the people I meet. I promise to expose the idiocy of our society and the foibles that pass for news these days. I know by doing so I’m fulfulling the trust that Time Magazine has placed in me. I’d like to thank those that brought me to your attention. In closing, think about this: Could the Time Person of the Year award actually be an insidious plot by print magazines to bring the networks to the point of overload by having every blogger write about how they got the award as Person of the Year?