Time magazine seems to be the only entity in the world that doesn't view its Person, Place or Thing of the Year award as an honor. It wants the freedom to also reward abject villainy for "making a difference" in the world.
Well, whether it be an honor or just a spotlight on impact-making, Time's choice of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as Person of the Year for 2010 is inspired and absolutely spot on.
Time admits to having considered Wikileaks founder and accused sex offender Julian Assange (see villainy, above) and the Tea Party as well -- surprising, since the conservative movement to save the country financially hasn't exactly been the darling of the liberal media, of which Time is a card-carrying member.
But while the Tea Party, the largest and most effective grassroots movement in America since the Civil Rights era, is deserving for having changed this country this year, Zuckerberg and his Facebook phenomenon have changed the world -- forever.
It's not even close.
It's a little scary, since no one, not even Zuckerberg, can say what the longterm effect of Facebook will be on humanity. But for now, it seems to have made it better -- and to have accelerated the speed with which we barrel recklessly into the 21st century.
If you don't use Facebook, you may not know what you're missing. If you use Facebook, you're in big company: Some 550 million humans have a Facebook account -- equivalent to the third-largest country in the world. That amounts to one out of every 12 people on the orb -- astonishing, considering how many people exist miles away from the nearest computer.
Slightly more people eat bread than use Facebook. It's creeping up on water-users as well.
It's amazing, and wholly unprecedented in human history -- and all the more wondrous when you consider that Zuckerberg and most of his cohorts are under 30. Perhaps LeBron James, who left high school to be a professional basketball superstar, should have been sufficient to warn us about the Attack of the 20-Somethings.
Zuckerberg is the mastermind.
The reason is, his baby is a monster prodigy: With Facebook, you can get on your computer and go straight to a virtual room to trade views or mere salutations with only people you've invited into the room. They get out of line, you hide them -- like leaving a horrid conversation at a cocktail party, except they don't even know you're leaving.
Best of all, you keep in constant contact -- as much or as little as you want -- with people you care about. You may never think enough of Bob to actually pick up a phone or write an e-mail to him -- and you may not know his number or address, for that matter. But on Facebook, all you need to know is his name or face, and he yours -- and you can have a five-second conversation every few years.
Moreover, by a never-ending succession of introductions to friends of friends, Facebook puts the network in networking.
And that high school sweetheart? Facebook acts like a free private eye to find them. You can get in touch or keep in touch with as many old or new friends as you like.
In short, it's changing the nature of friendships and empowering individuals like few things before.
And, in the end, it's those individuals who will determine whether it's for good or ill, as Time likes to say.
Mark Zuckerberg has merely started the global conversation.