TIME is a Documentation of History
Updated: Feb 27
Over the past decade, TIME.com has been known to name a person that they felt made the biggest impact in that year. While there have been some disputes from readers over if their choice was correct, the chosen personnel have made history. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was chosen, and many would know of him from his creation of Facebook. As a 19-year-old college sophomore at Harvard, he created thefacebook.com to connect students that go to college all over the country. Within the 7-year span of its creation, Facebook lost the “the” and gained 550 million users globally. He was deemed “The Connecter” and was named the person of the year.
Protesters have been changing the world and influencing politics for decades. The protester Mohamed Bouazizi was selling produce in the streets of Tunisia located in Northern Africa, even though through the years there have been countless fines against him and his family. On December 10th of 2010 a police officer slapped him and stole his scale. When he walked to the capitol building to complain and received no response, he then drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match. “In Tunisia, dignity is more important than bread,” his 16-year-old sister reported to TIME. This incident shed light on the differences citizens of the middle east are subject to when it comes to protesting and speaking out against government. Evidently he was named the 2011 Person of the Year.
2012 marked the reelection of America's first African American president, Barack Obama. Obama made historic strides. Getting elected in 2008 and being re-elected in 2012 continually reflected the people that America serve. Out of 43 presidents, all of them were white and Obama broke that chain, making a slightly more diverse spread of presidents.
Pope Francis is the first Pope in 1,500 years to not be of European decent. He is a former literature teacher and continues to live humbly in a two-bedroom apartment, instead of the usual lavish Vatican lifestyle. He has helped bring the majority of the church together to rally around what is really important: honoring God. He has spoken out against sexual assaults, said “who am I to judge” in reference to homosexuality and has unmistakably made history in the name of the Catholic church. This strides got him named as 2013’s Person of the Year.
If 2014 brings back any memories, the Ebola Virus might be one of the more prominent ones. While the virus itself has existed for many years, it became an epidemic and reached US soil in 2014. Many doctors and nurses working to contain the virus and treat those suffering from it have also endured its excruciating pain. “It hurts like they are busting your head with an ax,” nurse assistant Salome Karwah, employed though Doctors Without Borders said when referencing her experience with the virus. Those on the front lines worked to provide peace to those suffering and are deserving of the “Person of the Year” title.
In 2015, Europe was faced with many challenges including terrorists striking cities, Greeks blaming Germany for their debt and refugees flooding into the country. Many did not believe that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would survive much longer in the world of politics, due to her becoming “too soft”. Through the terrorist attacks throughout the year she still was persistent in being compassionate and inclusive to all people. She didn’t take what many would call the “easy road”, but she was fighting for what she believed was the right thing to do, by standing by those who need help. This got her named 2015’s Person of the Year.
Donald Trump became the president of the United States and was named person of the year in 2016. If looking at the trends of TIME’s choice for person of the year, every four years it seems to be the elected president. The TIMEs even writes, “this is the 90th time we have named the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. So, which is it this year: Better or worse? The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer.” The editors choose the person of the year based on the person who had the most influence of the year, and looking at it that way, Donald Trump is an obvious contender.
#Metoo sparked a movement of breaking the silence of sexual assault. This group - The Silence Breakers of 2017 - shed light onto the abuser Harvey Weinstein. Ashley Judd was one of the first to open up about Weinstein, with many others following in her path. Other survivors of assault hid in silence in fear of what would happen to them or the people that they loved if they spoke out. As more told their stories, the #Metoo movement spread and sexual abuse was being talked about as a serious issue. Their actions caused a huge ripple that has changed society.
Those seeking the truth and reporting it are called the people of the year for 2018. Some such as Jamal Khashoggi have paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to get information reported. In many countries across the world there isn’t freedom of press like there is in the United States, so it can be very dangerous for those journalists who are working to get the truth out to their public. The Guardians, journalists, are protecting the public's right to know and have made an impact around the world, well deserving the title of the Person of the Year.
Unsurprisingly, this year, TIME named 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year, who has sparked a global movement. She first noticed the plant was dying when in middle school teacher showed a video about the polar bears. She fell into a deep depression and as a result her family made lifestyle changes, including eating fewer animal products and giving up flying. Although her mental health improved, she was not satisfied and was furious that government officials weren't doing anything to help the dying earth. She started to strike outside of the Swedish Parliament and after a week decided she would continue doing this every Friday. The “Fridays are for Future” campaign is a global movement led by the youth. “Greta Thunberg has proven that age doesn't have to be a barrier when it comes to making a difference. A lot of young people feel like there's nothing they can do to fix issues in the world, but Thunberg has proved them all wrong,” Melina Nguyen (11) said.
As this decade comes to an end, it is important to reflect on those who have made it what it is. Without every one of these people, our world as we know it would be very different. Let’s see what the next decade has in store.