First World Problems
Kate Middleton beaten for Time magazine's Person of the Year by "icky"protestors
Since 1927, as each year comes to an end, the editors of Time magazine select "the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year."
Notable politicians and social leaders have been designated Person of the Year over the past eight decades. Middle Americans made the glossy cover in 1969, the computer in 1982 and You in 2006. On Wednesday, Time released its pick for 2011: The Protester.
All one has to do is look at a Facebook news feed to see how ubiquitous — and oftentimes divisive — the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements are. The same can't be said for Person of the Year runner-ups Kate Middleton (despite her high-profile wedding to Prince William and the rampant pregnancy rumors), Representative and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, or Admiral William McRaven. Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei (another runner-up) could be considered something of a protestor himself.
A collective ire of oppression and corruption took hold, and a contagious dissent spread across seas and over continents.
Though some are enraged by Time's choice (ironic, you see, because by engaging in the act of protesting they become a protester), there is really no contesting the indelible marks that the year's widespread protests have made upon our global society.
According to Kurt Andersen, author of the cover story, the past two decades were filled with relative affluence, until suddenly, around this time last year, general contentment reached a tipping point.
A collective ire of oppression and corruption took hold, and a contagious dissent spread across seas and over continents, from a political statement in Tunisia, to unrest throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and more, to Spain and Russia, Greece and Germany, India and Israel, to Wall Street and beyond in the United States.
The circumstances, the tactics and the stakes differ from country to country, but the Arab Spring and Occupy movement have used their voices (and social media) to incite change. As Andersen puts it, "This year, instead of plugging in the headphones, entering an Internet-induced fugue state and quietly giving in to hopelessness, [protesters] used the Internet to find one another and take to the streets to insist on fairness and (in the Arab world) freedom."
Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown. Hosni Mubarak was deposed. Muammar Gaddafi was assassinated. The Occupy movement has engaged American people from every walk of life, and protesters shut down the Port of Oakland earlier this week, causing up to $8 million worth of damage.
You don't have to agree with Time's choice, but don't say the protester hasn't made a difference.