Warning: This op-ed is extremely American-centric, since it’s where I live and what I know. I know that the Person of the Year can be from anywhere (or even a non-human), but I am focusing on America. Feel free to add comments or write your own if you can do better.
In what could be the greatest literary cop-out of this young century, TIME Magazine has surprised the world and selected YOU to be their annual Person of the Year. That’s right, they chose you.
Now, I know that 2006 has been quite a pathetic and abysmal year as far as world news goes, and the primary choices were bleak at best… but YOU? ME?!
TIME’s article is well-written, inspiring, and thought-provoking. But it’s also dead wrong. Here’s why:
Social Media – Few working for all
For starters, the report linked from this page states that only about 8% of people blog. While that’s not a bad number, but it’s certainly not enough to warrant any awards. And I seriously question the number of those blogs that are frequently updated.
If that’s not enough data, then look at this article: Top 100 Digg Users Control 56% of Digg’s Homepage Content. For those of you who don’t know, Digg.com is a community-based website that focuses primarily on technology and allows users to submit articles and digg, or vote, the popular ones to the front page.
Similarly, you can check out The Importance of 10%. This article spells out the 1:10:89 rule:
The 1% rule for social media, which says that for any group of 100 people, there will be 1 person that actually creates content, 10 people that interact with the content, and 89 that just view the content. This is also called the 1:10:89 Rule.
Those numbers might be a bit off, but you get the point: few do the work for many.The same goes for Wikipedia. See the article on Pareto Principle, and offending links therein.
And then, of course, there’s YouTube. The site whose success is almost entirely due to copyrighted Comedy Central clips and idiots setting themselves on fire and the like. How many of YOU have actually posted a video on YouTube though?
And for those of you that have posted something to YouTube, such as these girls in the hugely popular Hey Clip (which I can’t bring myself to watch more than 12 seconds of), good work – you just made someone else a boatload of money, courtesy of Google’s speculative investors. Why do you deserve an award for that?
So relatively few of you blog, submit articles to wikipedia, post videos on YouTube, or do anything collaborative on the Internet besides waste your time on MySpace (I’m not without guilt on this one). TIME has it all wrong.
I’m just getting started…
But now you got me mad, people. Not only are you undeserving of this award, you are undeserving of anything besides a slap in the face. Let’s take a look at how badly you’re screwing things up:
- You spend $1.10 for every $1.00 you make (original data here).
Is anybody aware of how freaking bad this is?!?! Do any of you realize that this is cited as one of the potential causes of the Great Depression? I’m not saying we’re heading there, but I AM saying to stop spending money you don’t have and won’t have in the near future.
- 4.7% of you are delinquent on your mortgage payments, a steadily rising number. 12.6% of subprime borrowers are not making payments.
With all the ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) out there, I have a hard time believing that there won’t be a lot of foreclosures next year. Especially now that 20% of mortgages are sub-prime, stated income mortgages are increasingly used, 60% of you sub-prime people are lying about your incomes, and many of you have negative equity in your homes.
Let me spell this out for you: STOP BUYING SHIT YOU CAN’T AFFORD. IT IS BAD FOR YOU AND BAD FOR THE ECONOMY.
- You are still building shitty automobiles, and your mistakes are beginning to take their toll.
I’m all for American-made products whenever it makes sense, but I’m sorry, never in my life would I trade my Acura in for a Ford or GM vehicle. An increasing number of Americans agree with me this past decade.
- Manufacturing might be next… ISM is under 50. Every time this happened since the 60s, we’ve gone into a recession
- In 2000, we had a glut of crappy websites, network hardware, and overpriced NASDAQ stocks. Now, we have a glut of crappy cars and homes that people can’t afford. Which bubble bursts louder?
And despite this bad news, what did you do? You ran the stock market up to an all-time high this year. Shown to the side is the Wilshire 5000 Index, an all-around market indicator. Go ahead and check out any other indicator and you’ll see the same thing – you have driven the stock market to its highest points.
Now excuse me for my bearishness, but am I the only one that doesn’t think that the US economy is at an all-time best? trade deficits are astronomical (admittedly no thanks to my Acura purchase), the dollar is steadily losing its value, inflation is NOT under control, we still have practically no control over the most important thing to our economy (oil), and everybody’s collectively in debt. In the meantime, our “conservative” government went and spent more money than any other administration in history.
I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t feel like investing at this “high” right now.
I’m not done yet…
- Nearly a quarter of you still smoke…
- 32.2% of you are obese….
- …while anywhere from 57 to 62% of you think that me and my tax money should pick up the tab when you get sick from it all
- In the meantime, over half of you STILL don’t vote… despite all of those political YouTube videos you kids watched.
There is one thing I’ll admit that I’m happy you did: enough of you showed up at the polls to neutralize the man who may end up being the single worst president of US history.
And then there’s entertainment…
- You have made Paris Hilton ridiculously famous for reasons I can’t fathom.
- You have made it impossible for me to go grocery shopping without seeing magazines that ALL feature either Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and/or Jessica Simpson on the cover
- You paid tens of billions of dollars for one of the absolute worst movie years I can remember
- 59% of you still use an inferior web browser (that number is even higher in the US) – possibly the single most exploited and costly piece of software in the history of computing.
- And, of all offenses, NICKELBACK is in the top 3 album sales of 2006. Are you people serious?
America, I really do love you. The fact that I am writing this (and that I can write this) proves that. But boy are you giving me the fits lately.
You need accountability. You need responsibility. Stop spending money that you don’t have, stop eating food you don’t need, and stop obsessing with insignificant things like gay marriage, marijuana prohibition, and Nicole Richie.
And stop pretending that you deserve to be the Person of the Year. Because you don’t.
2006 will go down as a horribly delusional year, and the only thing that’s worse is the aftermath that we’ll have to deal with in 2007.