Time and Its “Person of the Year”

Once again Time Magazine has overlooked us in choosing its “Person of the Year.” Instead they went with Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who has be become an international celebrity as an anti-climate change activist, and we rather begrudgingly accept the slight.
With all due respect to the formidable young Thunberg, however, we don’t think she was the year’s “most influential person” that the title is supposed to recognize. She got a lot of attention and adoration over the past year, but the climate continues to change, and even such an obviously bright 16-year-old isn’t likely to influence that. Most of the world will continue to emit greenhouse gases, lest their economies crash and there’s no money left to deal with the rising tides and other coming calamities, and even in the unlikely event the whole world agrees to give up airplanes and automobiles and air-conditioning and other modern amenities to go back to the grinding poverty and stifling heat of the pre-industrial world the climate would probably keep on changing.
The “most influential person” of any given year isn’t necessarily a positive influence on the world, and Time Magazine is old enough to have bestowed its “Person of the Year” title on Adolf Hitler and various other influential villains of history, so we can think of several people who are more, well, we hate to say to “deserving,” but at least more eligible for the title. President Donald Trump tells exaggerated boasts about his Time Magazine covers — President Richard Nixon still holds the record — and for a while he hung a fabricated Time Magazine cover with his picture at his golf resorts, so we’re sure he resents being slighted for a hot and saintly 16-year-old Swede even more than more than we do.
Time Magazine goes back to the pre-Hitler days and is still somehow on sale at neighborhood grocery store, and we still mention on our resume that we had several credit lines in the venerable publication, but these days Trump and the rest of us shouldn’t be much concerned with its “Person of the Year.” The magazine is mostly read in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting room these days, and along with the rest of the venerable print media its influence is waning in this post-Gutenberg age. Our guess is that Greta Thunberg will be soon forgotten, and Trump will be long remembered, fondly or not.

— Bud Norman

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