Dear Time Magazine,
The last two weeks of the year is an introspective time for many of us, that often means, at least for me, scrolling through Facebook in a bathtub wondering what I should do with my life.
I noticed a video you published came up on my feed more than once, and is well liked and shared by many of my friends, it stirred up a few thoughts and I hope you would consider my humble opinion in this open letter.
I think it is safe to say that, for most people, for one’s passing to be commemorated by Time’s “People we lost this year”, it would be considered an honour and an infallible indicator of a life well lived.
While your editorial team may have regretted publishing the video just a tad early to have missed the two other icons you would have clearly included, Carrie Fisher and George Michael, who sadly departed from us in the final two weeks of the year unexpectedly, I can’t help but feel nervous that something is deeply wrong and vulgar about the selection.
While no doubt the icons you have selected have achieved greatness in each of their fields, each deserving to be immortalised and remembered, there seem to be one common criteria connecting all of them – fame, that may have also been a factor in you excluding many deserving to be mentioned.
My instinctive reaction was that there must be important people we lost who had made great contribution to the world who are probably a lot less famous. As I could personally think of a few in the field of computing where I work – so I thought I’ll ask around and sure enough there were some really great examples.
Here are at least 10 more people I believe have had as much impact on the world, even if not as famous.
Andy Grove – Founder and CEO, Intel
A key figure responsible for the immense progress of the entire computing industry and the world, Intel’s impact to humanity cannot be overstated (he was once “Man of Year” of Time Magazine in the 90s).
Roger Tsien – Nobel Laureate, Chemistry
Developed the green fluorescent protein, an important technology used in detecting and tracking cancer.
Henry Heimlich – Creator, Heimlich Maneuver and Heimlich Valve
Created the famous manoeuvre to save a choking person (and a favourite plot device in Hollywood) and the less famous device that drains lungs of fluids and re-inflate them. Saved scores of lives.
An important figure in the development of Game Theory and a great influence on how the Cold War played out (with in not destroying the world).
Ali Javan – Inventor, Gas Laser
Ranked Number 12 on The Daily Telegraph’s list of the “Top 100 Living Geniuses”, he made fibre optics technology possible, on which the foundation of the internet is laid.
Vera Caslavska – 7 Olympic Gold Medals, Peaceful Protester
Besides being one of the highest achieving athlete in history, Vera iconically and peacefully protested the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia by looking down while the Soviet anthem was being played during the 1968 Olympics.
Artur Fischer – Prolific Inventor (most famous for the expanding wall plug)
Screwing things into the wall would be so much harder without him. He also invented flashlight for photography, and has more patents (over 1100) than Thomas Edison (1093 patents).
Known as the Iron Lady, she was chief minister of Tamil Nadu, a state in India with almost 80M population (that’s more people than UK, France or Italy), for over 14 years.
Ray Tomlinson – Inventor, Email (and the “@” sign)
Invented the first email system on ARPANET in 70s and changed electronic communication forever.
Jim Delligatti – Inventor, Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Hotcakes
Once again – Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Hotcake, this man deserves a place in the hall of the greats methinks.
This is but a list that I have gathered based on my limited knowledge and life experience. I am sure the list of people that ought to be included is much greater than this.
My daughter is 10 months old, and when I think about what I would want her to aspire to be, I feel nervous that she would grow up in a world where 5 minutes of internet fame is more cherished than being able to impact 5 million lives.
You are still The Time Magazine to me, because you are still the respected institution I grew up knowing and loving – the iconic red borders around the ever so slightly crumpled cover page, illuminating the most important people and events of our Time.
And I hope my daughter would grow up in a world, where institutions we look up to and rely on would continue to serve as a guiding light, a magnifying glass on the matters that are of importance and impact, and not merely of fame.
I hope you would reconsider your selection criteria in the years to come.
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