Facebook's CEO had a huge year, what with the Hollywood blockbuster about him and the explosive growth of his social network. Now, as if to confirm the culture's Facebook obsession, Time has named Mark Zuckerberg "Person of the Year."
The article accompanying Zuckerberg's cover is a lengthy exploration of the phenomenon of Facebook, including how it has become a borderline medical compulsion for many users; how it is corroding traditional ideas about privacy and interpersonal relations; how it undermines some government; and how it potentially spreads narcissism in a very clinical sense.
It's also, inevitably, a study in Zuckerberg. The 26-year-old CEO comes across well on balance, but Time also makes sure the question "Isn't that guy a little freakish?" question is answered with a resounding "yes:"
His most notable physical feature is his chin, which he holds at a slightly elevated angle... like he's standing on his tiptoes, trying to see over something...
He approaches conversation as a way of exchanging data as rapidly and efficiently as possible, rather than as a recreational activity undertaken for its own sake. He is formidably quick and talks rapidly and precisely, and if he has no data to transmit, he abruptly falls silent. ("I usually don't like things that are too much about me" was how he began our first interview.) He cannot be relied on to throw the ball back or give you encouraging facial cues. His default expression is a direct and slightly wide-eyed stare that makes you wonder if you've got a spider on your forehead.
Most alarmingly, if your signal-to-noise ratio drops below a critical threshold, Zuckerberg will turn his head and look off to one side as if he's hearing noises offstage, presenting you with his Roman-emperor profile. "If you're not making compelling points, he kind of just tunes out," Bosworth says. "He's not trying to be rude. He's just like, 'O.K., you're not the best use of this time anymore.'"
The article goes on to add, insistently, that Zuckerberg is " a warm presence, not a cold one," with a "quick smile" and exuding "not anger or social anxiety but a weird calm." Got that? Even when Zuck is warm and calm, he's "weird." Can't the world's youngest billionaire ever catch a break, in the press?