If you had to pick the year Time magazine’s “person of the year” jumped the shark, you’d probably start with 2006. That was when Time looked at the rise of open-publishing platforms like Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook, and decided the most influential person was the collective “you.” It was cheesy, trite, and had the exact effect Time wanted: everybody talked about it.
Time’s annual “person of the year” designation has always been a gimmick, going all the way back to Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Time was once a scrappy upstart, but for decades it was a very serious must-read magazine. Now that the heyday of newsmagazines has receded, the spectrum of people who have ever held a physical copy of Time