Every year Time magazine selects a Person of the Year” who has made the greatest impact (good or bad) for shaping our world in the prior twelve months. The winner this time was 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Over the holiday season, his face has stared from the cover of Time in newsstands around the world.
The Time cover story is fascinating, well worth tracking down and reading. Zuckerberg was chosen “for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping social relations among them (something that has never been done before), for creating a new system of exchanging information that has become indispensable and sometimes a little scary; and for changing how we all live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic.”
Perhaps the Time editor is correct in stating that “all social media involve a mixture of narcissism and voyeurism.” But the Facebook creators seem shaped more by the belief that transparency and sharing can be for the common good. “Why wouldn’t you want to share?” Zuckerberg asks. “Why wouldn’t you want to be open unless you’ve got something to hide? Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” But is there no place for secrets? Is there danger in the fact that Facebook has a richer, more intimate hoard of information about its followers than any nation has ever had? And consider this from the magazine writer: “Relationships on Facebook have a seductive, addictive quality that can erode and even replace real-world relationships. Friendships multiply with gratifying speed, and the emotional stakes stay soothingly low; where there isn’t much privacy, there can’t be much intimacy either.”
If that is not thought provoking enough, consider how the article ends. Zuckerberg describes conversations in college where everyone agreed that eventually the world would become open like it is now. “Why were we the people make this happen?” he asks. “That’s crazy.” Then he paused and added “I guess what it probably turns out is, other people didn’t care as much as we did.” Ponder that.
Please share your comments on the above or on the Time article.