Time has named Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year for supposedly making the world a more open and better place. But wait — isn’t that what Julian Assange just did?
Time Magazine has named Mark Zuckerberg Time Person of the Year 2010. Zuckerberg’s Facebook climbed past 500 million users in 2010, while Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of the company’s beginnings in “The Social Network” captured our imaginations with modest box office numbers and tons of press. 2010 was indeed the year of Zuckerberg, especially after the 26-year-old genius announced he would be giving away billions of dollars to philanthropic initiatives.
Yet his mission to make the world a more open and better place seems far from realization. Facebook is a great way to keep up with people you normally wouldn’t keep up with while being bombarded by advertising. Malcolm Gladwell challenged its social utility in an engrossing essay, reducing Facebook to a weak-tie time waste. NY Times tech writer Nick Bilton this morning questioned whether we’ve hit social media overload, and if our romance with Twitter and Facebook is not unlike a summer tryst: intense but short-lived.
Julian Assange, however, actually has made the world a more open place. He masterfully pulled back the curtain on high-level democratic discourse, which, as it turns out, involves as much teenage backbiting and shit-talking as a John Hughes film. Assange is the Toto to our Dorothy, the one brave enough to pull back the curtain and show the world the wizard isn’t there.
For his efforts, we’ve awarded Assange with an international arrest warrant, public disgrace, humiliation, and a pending indictment for the United States Department of Justice. We’ve awarded Zuckerberg with billions of dollars and a hall pass to raid our privacy. What a world — especially to be in Person of the Year in.