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On Being Named Person of the Year

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It never crossed my mind that when I was finally named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, which I seem to have been, I would find it out by reading the morning newspaper on the actual day Time Magazine appeared. It never occurred to me that they would be able to assemble an entire article about me without even calling. I was busy this week, it's true, I had a lot of Christmas shopping, but I could have squeezed them in. But I realize now that this was just part of how brilliant it all is on the part of Time, how fantastically cutting-edge and New Media! Do an article about someone and don't even call them! It's so now! It's so bloggy! Ontology recapitulates phylogeny! If you know what I mean!

Still, I can't quite believe it. I'm easy to reach. I so have things to say about being Person of the Year. Time might want to know how I manage to Do It All, which I do. They might want my favorite new recipe, for leek bread pudding (although they could copy it out of the December Martha Stewart, where I got it). They might want to know about my favorite new ice cream flavor (Haagen-Dazs caramel cone), although I already mentioned it in a recent blog, God forbid there should be any fact about me that isn't known to just about everyone. I mean, that's how it is here in the new digital democracy, we tell everyone everything.

But as I said, they did it without me. The Person of the Year is me. Of course the person of the year is also you. Actually the person of the year is "You," as in YouTube and MySpace, as in the World Wide Web - "for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game." Don't you love it? I especially love the part about "working for nothing," I especially love the condescension in that phrase, the dead giveaway about how Time Magazine really feels about the giant collective unwashed, unpaid You Out Here that is nonetheless making life a misery for Them In There -- for the Old Media scrambling to figure out What It Means for things like the future of print, the paper business, network television, privacy, and their jobs, for which (it goes without saying) they are paid.

I feel happy of course to be the Person of the Year, and at some point I will celebrate by doing what I always do on Sunday morning. I will make breakfast (What to cook? Biscuits? Waffles? Eggs?) and watch the morning talk shows. The morning talk shows will remind me (not that I need to be reminded), that the world is currently in the midst of a total meltdown, that we have the worst president in current history, that the elation of the recent election has passed to a numbing foreboding that nothing is going to change and that innocent people will continue to die in this hateful, violent episode we've unleashed. Less than two weeks ago, the long-awaited Baker Commission Report was issued, and it died faster than Snakes on a Plane.

But I am not going to focus on any of these things, because I am the Person of the Year. It's me, me, me - or, as Time Magazine insists on putting it, you, you, you. Last year, Time's Person of the Year was actually three people - Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono. I thought they were a brilliant choice, and the selection had a way of focusing the year and making me view the world in a different way, as smart, brave, editorial selections sometimes do. "You," Time tells us, beat out Iran's President Ahmandinejad, China's President Hu Jintao, North Korean's Kim Jon Il, and my own candidates -- the Fab Four, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.

I'm proud of me. I'm proud of "You." I'm proud of us. But like all people who stand before you holding a trophy, I feel compelled to say that I can't help thinking a mistake has been made, and unlike most of the people who utter those bromidic words, I actually believe them.

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