ALL ABOUT ME
On Reflection, This Timely Honour's All Mine
It came as something of a surprise being named Time's Person of the Year.
BY JAMES TARANTO
The Australian, Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'll always remember where I was when I heard the news. It was Saturday night and I was in Phoenix, Arizona, at the home of my friend David Burkhart. I was wrapping up a week's holiday and David was surfing the web. He looked up and said to me, "You're Time magazine's Person of the Year."
At first I assumed he was joking. I thought for sure it would be Barack Obama, the rising star of US politics. But it turned out he was right.
"Person of the Year: You," read the Time cover. "Yes, you. You control the information age. Welcome to yourworld."
It seemed an exaggeration, but the story described me pretty well: "Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? . . . Who has that time and that energy and that passion? The answer is, you do. And 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, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you." I was stunned.
My Best of the Web Today column (www.opinionjournal.com/best) does have a devoted and influential readership, about 150,000 people a day. But did I really have more influence in 2006 than anyone else in the world? Maybe I did. After all, who was the competition? US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I'm at least as important as they are. It all began to make sense.
True, there were some factual inaccuracies in Time's account. I don't actually work for nothing; I receive a salary and benefits. And although I have two cats, I have no pet iguana. Presumably this was a garbled reference to a column I wrote in September, in which I noted that I had bought a stuffed toy iguana for my girlfriend's nephew. But these are quibbles. The important thing is that I am deeply honoured and humbled that Time magazine has seen fit to recognise my accomplishments. My mother is very proud.
It's not the first time Time has honoured me. The issue dated January 6, 1967, named the generation "25 and under" as Man of the Year for 1966. I was born exactly a year earlier, so I made the cut. But I had to share the honours with the millions of people born in the previous 24 years. This year Time recognised me alone. It was unfortunate that I was on holiday, for Time's editors didn't bother to get a photo of me for the cover. Instead, they used a little mirror, so I could see myself in the cover. But other readers may be misled into thinking that they are the Person of the Year. I had my BlackBerry with me, and I would have sent Time a photo if only they had asked. But it was thoughtful of them to leave me alone.
Anyway, this too is a quibble. The real question is this: How much is the prize money?
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