Elizabeth Donald
6 min readDec 28, 2021


Elon Musk is a bad Person of the Year… but not for the reasons you think.

I’ve written this column before.

In fact, I think I’ve written it several times. The short version is posted on social media so often each December that I pretty much end up copy-pasting it over and over.

And here we are again, with an annual mass delusion persisting for at least 90 years: TIME’s Person of the Year is not an honor.

It was never an honor, never intended to be an honor, and if you haven’t figured that out from some of the choices over the decades, I really don’t know what to tell you.

TIME Magazine chooses the person who most influenced world events that year for Person of the Year, known as Man of the Year until 1999. Each year they pick someone, and each year people throw almighty fits because they think the person chosen is not worthy, and suggest all sorts of saints walking about in human form who would make a better Person of the Year, and we must explain again and again that being a good human doesn’t fit the designation.

It’s a difficult concept, and if you have the stomach to google the memes, you’ll see that it is repeatedly misunderstood and even used as an example of how the Evil Mainstream Media is destroying the world because we secretly love Hitler or something.

To repeat: TIME’s Person of the Year is not an honor. It is acknowledgment of influence, which does not mean that influence is for the better.

This year it’s Elon Musk, ugh, and the primary meme circulating replaces him with an image of Officer Eugene Goodman, the incredibly brave Capitol Police officer who deflected the angry mob on Jan. 6 away from the members of Congress trying to escape them.

Hitler. Mussolini. Putin. Khomeini. Stalin (twice). This is the company in which you want to put Officer Goodman? Oh, hell no. Goodman is worthy of much greater honors than TIME’s cover.

Unfortunately, it seems those with ill intent often have a greater impact on human history than those who do great good.

More recently, TIME seems to be on a tech kick. They’ve named Jeff Bezos because Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg because Facebook, and brilliantly in 2006, “you.” Yes, you have been Person of the Year. Don’t look over your shoulder. I’m talking to YOU. Because you wrote stuff on the internet. And that’s… good, or so we thought in 2006. We might be rethinking it now.



Elizabeth Donald

Journalist for more than 25 years, freelance writer, editor, photographer, and fiction author. Subscribe at patreon.com/edonald or visit donaldmedia.com.