On Wednesday, Time Magazine named ‘The Protestor’ The Person of the Year for 2011. Person of the Year is the person, group, or idea that Time believes has had the most influence on the culture and the news during the past year — for better or for worse.
Time chose ‘The Protestor’ based on the worldwide protests throughout 2011. From Tunisia and Egypt to Mexico and the United States, 2011 has been marked by public displays of discontent.
“No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain,” the magazine says in their introduction to the story. “Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.”
‘The Protestor’ was selected over runners-up William McRaven, the admiral who commanded the SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden after a 10-year manhunt; Ai Weiwei, an artistic consultant detained in Beijing while trying to catch a flight to Hong Kong; Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman; and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Among those named “People Who Mattered” were Casey Anthony, Hillary Clinton, Troy Davis, and Kim Kardashian.
The late Steve Jobs was given a “Fond Farewell,” although he ranked fifth for the people’s choice of who should be named Person of the Year.
Each year, this decision is met with criticism and controversy. This year, many were surprised that Steve Jobs was not selected, especially after Barbara Walters named Jobs as The Most Fascinating Person of the Year on Wednesday. However, to many college students, The Protestor was the right choice.
“Twenty years from now, the protestors will be what was remembered from this year,” said Julie Siegler, a freshman at the University of Michigan. “They’ve made the greatest impact on the way the world works. When the Middle East is a fully democratic region, we will remember the Arab Spring as the time of influential change when the landscape of the world completely changed.”
Emory University junior Evan Mah agrees.
“I think Time made the right move by making the protestors ‘Person of the Year,’” Mah said. “As I think about the kind of courage it takes to stand up to oppression, it’s inspiring to know that people around the world can stand together in the face of danger.”
Alissa Scarafile, an Emory University senior, thinks The Protestor was a good choice. However, she’s not sure it was the best choice. To Scarafile, Jobs was the Person of the Year, influencing herself and those around her in a myriad of ways.
“Maybe I’m biased because I own too many Apple products, but I liken Apple products effect on communication to Gutenberg’s printing press,” Scarafile said. “He totally revolutionized the way we communicate, buy music, movies, books, the way we learn, etc. It’s amazing that someone can tell what people are going to want to use in the future and then make it. Steve Jobs knew what people were going to need before they themselves did.”
Mah expressed similar sentiments.
“Steve Jobs changed the world in the most profound way,” Mah said. “I can’t think of another person who had such an impact on movies, music, cell phones, computers and television. He was an iconic inventor who paved the way to the future.”
Jobs wasn’t selected because “It’s not a lifetime achievement award,” Rick Stengel, Time’s managing editor, told The Today Show. “Steve is someone I venerate, but it wasn’t really a year where he transformed anything.”
Stengel explained that his staff chose to honor protestors because they will continue to have an impact on the world. “These are folks who are changing history already and who will change history in the future,” Stengel said.