You. Yeah, you. Congratulations. You’re Time magazine’s Person of the Year, 2006. Why? Because they like you — they really like you!
Well, not really. Mostly, Time is hoping that you are Narcissus, fascinated enough by your reflection on the cover to buy a copy. As Time’s managing editor Richard Stengel explained, "If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that person affected millions of people. But if you choose millions of people, you don’t have to justify it to anyone." It seems we have finally learned the identity of the man in the purple Barney costume: Stengel, who believes everybody’s special, everyone in his or her own way.
So here’s to you, Prison Pete. You are a 50-year-old former computer programmer and current inmate — and blogger — in the New York State Penitentiary. And you, my friend, are changing the world, one shanking at a time.
Here’s to you, Barbra Streisand. Your poorly written, barely edited blog, in which you sound off on politics with all the intelligence and wit of a mentally disabled hyena, is making America safe for burned-out torch singers with large gay fan bases. Cher, Bette Midler — and Time — thank you.
Congratulations, rambling drunk college girl with a Webcam. You’re changing the world with your profile on MySpace. Sure, those photos will come back to haunt you when you go job-searching, let alone when your future children Google you. But revel in the fact that you are Time’s Person of the Year.
And let’s not forget the members of the various "largest" and "biggest" Facebook groups "in the world." You are contributing to a higher good. You are bringing people together for the sole purpose of sharing in eponymous glory. Sure, you’re not as active as members of the "B—- Stole My Fish" Facebook group, let alone the "We Are Ridiculously Good-Looking" Facebook group. But if ever the world is in need of a bunch of people who sit around together for no purpose — if, say, the Daily Kos Pot-Smoking Convention is hit by an asteroid — then you are ready and willing to step up.
Let’s all raise a glass to you, various morons on YouTube. Whether you’re riding skateboards into bushes, setting yourselves on fire, singing horribly in your basements, or doing unthinkably awful imitations of Conan O’Brien, you are improving the condition of mankind. Winston Churchill won Time’s Person of the Year in 1940 and 1949. Today, you prove yourselves his equal.
Three cheers for Democratic Underground posters, shaking things up with your regular psychotic breakdowns. Without you, we’d never know about the threat of President-select Smirky Chimp Bushitler. And kudos to the folks at Huffington Post, who are always there to remind us that Republicans cause hurricanes. Oh yes, and the good people at Indymedia, as well, who won’t let us forget what a "dumb jock" Pat Tillman was.
And we would be remiss to overlook the achievements of the vast Internet porn industry, bringing smut to your nearest mis-typed web address. And all hail The Homeless Guy, who has enough time and intellectual capability to write a coherent blog, but not enough time to find a real job. He’s been homeless since 1982 — where will he store his Time trophy?
Time’s Person of the Year award used to mean something. It used to signify the importance of the recipient in changing the world, for good or ill. Time has made ridiculous picks before — Bono, Melissa and Bill Gates (2005); The Whistleblowers (2002); American Women (1975); Young Generation (1966) — but the idea that everyone on the Internet deserves to be Time’s Person of the Year is dumb on the order of banning dodgeball and tag. We’re all winners! (Well, except for you folks in China and Iran. You’re losers.)
The Internet has been a powerful force. Certain bloggers in particular deserve credit for breaking the stranglehold of the mainstream media. Certain web creators have produced ingenious websites that enrich lives. But really, now. Is everyone a Person of the Year? That angry perv who uses the library to download child porn? That ugly dude who pledges that if enough people visit his website, he’ll shave his beard? That lawyer down the hall who owns a fantasy football team called "Motion to Quash"?
In Time’s haste to please everyone, they’ve equated equal opportunity with equal performance. We’re not all equally dumb, however. Time’s editors win that prize, hands down.