Elon Musk’s Time … for what?

It may have come to your attention that Time magazine’s choice for the Person of the Year was revealed at the beginning of this week. And as some of you may also know, they chose Elon Musk to carry this title. This caused a lot of uproar, and many disagree. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, richest man alive, and now Person of 2021… but why? 

The title “Person of the Year” is given away yearly by the Time magazine, and they have done this since 1927 (then of course still named “Man of the Year”). It is tradition, and after Greta Thunberg in 2019, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris last year, now Elon Musk may do the honour and follow in their footsteps. Reading the explanation of the magazine, Musk is almost described as a real-life Iron Man, saying that:

“​​He tosses satellites into orbit and harnesses the sun; he drives a car he created that uses no gas and barely needs a driver. With a flick of his finger, the stock market soars or swoons. […] He dreams of Mars as he bestrides Earth, square-jawed and indomitable. Lately, Elon Musk also likes to live-tweet his poops.” 

Although he may be described as a superhero, the internet considers him more as a villain, with many stating all the reasons why Musk shouldn’t be Person of the Year and coming up with better alternatives. It was mentioned that Musk hindered employees from unionizing, illegally threatening them to take away stock options if they did. His company has had 43 workers’ rights violations filed against it since 2010. On Twitter, it was mentioned over and over again how someone could be Person of the Year when he doesn’t even pay (his fair share of) taxes, reminding us that Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018, and that his average effective tax rate is 3.27%. Instead, many wanted Officer Goodman to be Person of the Year, for representing all the Capitol Police Officers who defended the Capitol from Donald Trump’s violent supporters. Other many mentioned names were Stacey Abrams, who is a political minority leader, voting rights activist, author, and lawyer; the developers of the mRNA vaccines, which saved millions of lives; Brittney Spears, who made headlines throughout the year while reclaiming her identity; Deb Haaland who is the first Native Interior Secretary in U.S. history; or Dolly Parton, who donated 1 million dollars to the development of COVID vaccine Moderna. Time may call Musk a “genius”, and a “visionary”, he still has questionable views on taxation and opposes unions and vaccine mandates. He also got $240 billion richer during the pandemic. 

Altogether, the decision by Time magazine for such a controversial person is debatable in and of itself. It is definitely a change after Greta Thunberg and Joe Biden/Kamala Harris, who can be considered quite woke, unlike Musk. Nonetheless, it is important to point out what it means to be Person of the Year. Time magazine bases their choice on the influence a person had on the course of the year, or who represented the year the best. This influence, however, does not necessarily have to be positive. For example, Hitler was Person of the Year in 1938, and Stalin even got the title twice (1939 and 1942). Musk’s influence is undeniable, on earth and possibly also on extraterrestrial life, making Time magazine choose him to represent this year. 

Whether you agree or disagree with Time’s decision to crown Elon Musk Person of the Year, I will leave up to you, but his rockets, cars, and tweets are undeniably playing a part in our lives. On paper, he already is the richest private citizen ever to exist, and from this week onwards he has a new title that can be added to his collection: Person of the Year. 

Time’s explanation can be found here: https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2021-elon-musk/

And to take part in the discussion, go to Twitter. 

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