When Facebook first launched on college campuses in late 2004, students were hesitant to sign up for fear of sharing too much about their personal lives with classmates that they barely knew. Six years later, nearly one third of the entire world population has shrugged off these concerns entirely, adopting the use of Facebook, as-is, and as much a part of their daily routine as brushing teeth.
The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was named TIME Magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year on Wednesday. As all achievements by People of the Year do, Zuckerberg’s development of Facebook has dramatically affected global society. But it is this dramatic shift in not only how we act – but how, as a global population – we justify how we act – that is the real highlight of Zuckerberg’s award. While, at several points throughout the span of Facebook, society has resisted to changes in Facebook design, privacy controls, and use of advertisements, Facebook’s users have acquiesced and continued to use Facebook – all the while, Zuckerberg and team standing firm ground. In the past six or so years, Facebook users have adapted to Facebook’s limited privacy theories – and in only six years, the 2 billion Facebook users have become so familiar with these policies, they may actually think its the only way to regulate.
This is the true impact of Zuckerberg, and perhaps really why he deserves to be named Person of the Year for 2010. Not because Facebook acheived some monumental mark in 2010, but because we may have seen the biggest shift in how Facebook affected society this past year. In 2010, we may have seen the full impact of Facebook affecting how society thinks as a group – because people can communicate with each other much more easily, and more quickly, than any other medium. If a Facebook user wants to create a new meme or a new game on Facebook, such as the “I Like It” status update game or the meme to change one’s user profile picture to a cartoon, the ideas spread like wildfire. However, this same “group think” has seeped beyond the walls of Facebook, and affected our real selves. As society has adjusted to Facebook’s resistance to restrict privacy to our original desires, a large segement of society appears to have justified reduced privacy in “real” life – as witnessed with the new TSA screenings at airports. Some question if generations prior to Facebook would have stood for the same.
Zuckerberg, as all Persons of the Year, is an influencer that has profoundly changed society – be it in a positive, or negative, way. While “social media” may not quite have been a buzz word in the early 2000’s, he wasn’t the first to create a social network – but Zuckerberg’s Facebook undoubtedly influenced society in such a way that changed not only how we act online, but in our real lives. It changed how we justify our thoughts, those actions around us that affect us, and now, many Facebook users have to complete the circular argument and justify using Facebook. (TIME noted that there is research into a psychological diagnosis for those with true addiction to Facebook.) It’s really about time that Zuckerberg’s development of Facebook – an application that virtully everyone uses – acheive formal recognition. What is truly profound is, like all Persons of the Year, what impact Zuckerberg and his Facebook truly has made on society.
Do you think Mark Zuckerberg deserves Person of the Year 2010? Who, or what, would you have chosen instead?