Person of the Year is a fairly substantial award given out by TIME magazine annually. Nearing the end of this year, however, the award seemed to be up in the air. Who has managed to accomplish anything significant this year? Julian Assange? Maybe. But there was another, and he had a far more personal impact on the world than anyone else today. It just so happened to be Mark Zuckerberg.
The 26-year-old phenom has accomplished more in these past five years than most accomplish in their entire life. Not too bad for someone who, not too long ago, was considered to be a boy filling the shoes of a man. Now he has notoriety that can be rivaled by only few others. He even has been featured in The Social Network — a movie about Mark Zuckerberg’s rocky rise to social networking stardom — which is surely something that many aspiring geeks around the world can appreciate.
But it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t without conflict.
Zuckerberg’s reputation preceded him: he wasn’t without the drama, as he illegally stole information from students at Harvard University for his own gain with other projects he had worked on; he wasn’t without errors in judgement, as he has repeatedly failed to respect others and their rights; and he wasn’t without controversy, as he has sparked epic debates on the Internet about privacy and control of information.
But even with all of the negativity and drama that has surrounded his life, Zuckerberg has managed to win the eyes, hearts, and attention of millions around the world. And he did it with one single website.
It’s More Than A Website
From the shy, odd, geeky hacker to one of the world’s most noteworthy men in social media, Zuckerberg has created something that is far more special than meets the eye. It started out as Thefacebook, and it eventually transformed into the largest social network in the world. How big? Well, Facebook is quickly nearing 600 million users worldwide — not to mention that it is currently one of the most, if not the most, visited websites in the world.
Having one of the most visited website throughout the entire Internet, becoming the world’s youngest billionaire, and having, quite possibly, the largest following of digital “friends” is impressive enough; however, all of that alone isn’t why Zuckerberg was worthy of an award. See, Zuckerberg had claims to this award in particular because of what Facebook has accomplished for the modern world.
Facebook could be considered the most prolific communication platform on the Web today. It is your your online identity, your business card, your school yearbook, your digital locker, your address book, your instant messenger, your photo album, and your place to share thoughts and memories with those you care about. Put simply: it’s an integral part of many people’s lives in today’s world.
For all of the aforementioned reasons and more, Mark Zuckerberg does, in fact, have a legitimate claim for Time‘s Person of the Year award.
Why Zuck Wins
Sure, he didn’t expose governments for the lies and evils they do on a regular basis. He hasn’t directly had political influences around the world — although, arguably, his service has helped others organize in ways never before seen. And he isn’t the first person on the list of people who I would consider that is doing it all for the greater good. But all of those things have very little impact to each individual person.
(I’m not saying that what Julian Assange has done isn’t significant — it is significant in many ways. However, if I’m going to organize a nationwide protest for all of the horrible things that has happened with our government, I bet Facebook is one of the primary places I’d organize such a thing. Journalism and people who have been brave enough to leak all of these documents are who have ultimately lead to a majority of Assange’s success.)
Facebook has a significant impact on every person that uses it. It impacts their lives dramatically by introducing them to new friends, old friends, long-lost friends, and more. But it also keeps those friends connected with information about each other that was previously shared before. In a sense, we are all sharing our life story with others on Facebook — it is almost like a journal of your own life that everyone can read, interact with, and critique.
This is why Zuckerberg deserved the title that was bestowed upon him. He created something special, which no one else had managed to accomplish. The whole premise of Facebook was to connect people — not only did he manage to do that, but he also managed to connect us to a new world of communication on the Internet. Furthermore, it is now an essential piece of the Internet that intertwines us all.
If all of that isn’t worthy of the title of Person of the Year, then I don’t know what is.