I know that I’m supposed to be all flattered by Time magazine’s naming of me as their Person of the Year but the award is diluted slightly by the fact that it also awarded all of you the same honor.
That award is supposed to mark something truly special; it’s supposed to commemorate someone who made a lasting impact on their world. By naming “You” (or, I guess, “Us”) Time really copped out. I can’t decide if the editors who made this decision were lazy, trying to blatantly generate link-bait for the online world or just didn’t want to talk about those messy things (genocide, civil war, nuclear proliferation, etc) happening in non-U.S. parts of the world because it would make people feel bad.
Even worse, though, their profile of the citizen journalists included almost solely A-list bloggers and corporate executives like the founders of YouTube. To many people on the web those people, because of their incredible popularity and/or financial success are still “them” and not “us.”
This choice by Time is basically an attempt to play to the cheap seats. It’s a power chord in a stadium-ready anthem. It’s a chase scene. It’s a flatulence joke. It’s meant to make as many people as possible feel as good as possible as opposed to actually showing them what’s important.
We’re important not because Time has told us we are. The online community is important – and will continue to grow in importance – because we’ve used the power of self-publishing to fill in the gaps and pick up the slack left by the mainstream media. We talk about the things they’re not talking about. We connect with other people because doing so is easy in the online world. We create content because we can and no one else is.
The awarding of the Person of the Year to Us is an attempt by the mainstream media to bestow legitimacy on us lowly bloggers and podcasters that we don’t need. The producers of good content earn that legitimacy on their own and fight for it against the perceptions of others every day. It’s the MSM that needs to work on proving its relevance to the people and not the other way around.
So while some people are applauding this decision I’m not going to join them. I’ll continue to work hard to use the tools that allow for self-publishing to engage with an audience that finds what I write of interest. Everyone should do the same.