Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011

Down with People!

TIME is totally obsessed with people: Person of the Year, the 100 Most Influential People in the World, article after article about things people did, filled with what people said. It's junior-high pathetic, all this trying to be liked by talking about other people, as desperate as inviting tons of people you don't know to a very expensive party to make yourself feel special.

So while I will go to the TIME 100 gala and drink the free champagne, I will enjoy it with nostalgia. Time is an 88-year-old magazine living in the past, back when people were important. What TIME doesn't realize is that the era of people is over. So I have started the 100 Most Influential Things list (, which tells the real story of the forces that change the world. It's so much smarter than the list in this magazine that in the Most Influential Lists List (patent pending), it ranks way above the TIME 100, just below the Fortune 500 and tied with E!'s 25 Most Memorable Swimsuit Moments, which I happened to be a commenter on.

Compared side by side, the TIME 100 Things list beats the TIME 100 every time. Yes, Blake Lively is hot, but is she 5,000° hot, like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's reactor core (No. 2)? Is Justin Bieber nearly as influential as Justin Bieber's hair clippings (No. 29)? Are people actually interested in Kate Middleton or just in that blue Issa dress (No. 70) she wore for her engagement announcement?

The TIME 100 Things is also far more honest about influence. Novelist Jennifer Egan is on the TIME 100, but the TIME 100 Things didn't even consider including her novel. The TIME 100 pretends Charlie Sheen doesn't exist, but the TIME 100 Things proudly includes a drug called Charlie Sheen (No. 13). Newark Mayor Cory Booker makes the TIME 100 even though he is mayor of Newark (No. nothing). And while it's nice to think that Felisa Wolfe-Simon, discoverer of arsenic-eating bacteria, is wildly influential, she is no Korean taco (No. 68).

Even the influential people on this year's TIME 100 would have to admit that my list is superior, since their world has undoubtedly been less influenced by Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton than by the Verizon iPhone (No. 10). Amy Chua, the Yale law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, resisted my idea at first, until I forced her to pick two things from her life that she couldn't part with. "This is ironic for a person who supposedly burned my daughters' stuffed animals," she said before telling me all about Donkey and Doggy, whom she's had since she was born and keeps in a box. I am already pitching a Mommie Dearest-meets-Citizen Kane film version of Tiger Mother.

Jonathan Franzen, another novelist on the TIME 100 — which somehow restrained itself from picking any opera-set designers — agrees with the superiority of my list. "For several hundred years, other people were very interesting," says Franzen, who recently published a novel with a bunch of people in it. "But when the most salient fact about everyone is that they're spending a lot of time surfing the Web and being entertained, that's not so interesting. They're all doing the same thing you are," he says. The things that are most important to Franzen are "a couple of friends' paintings" and "good bird-watching optics," both of which would have made the TIME 100 Things list if it were 1889.

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who studies language in bonobos (Seriously, TIME 100? Do you think all this intellectual posturing is going to get you into People's Most Beautiful People's pants?), doesn't care about things because she doesn't own much, which is probably a good call when you live with apes. But Teco, the 10-month-old bonobo, is totally with me on the things thing. He used to be really into this little red ball, but now he's all about apps on his iPad (No. 58). "He can activate them by sitting on it or using his lips or his hands or his feet," she says. No matter how much she tries to convince you, do not let Savage-Rumbaugh trick you into smelling her iPad.

By the time he turns 2, Teco will be the Foursquare mayor of some fruit tree, while Time and its nonagenarian buddies will be sitting around reading big-print novels and having endless meetings to make lists of tycoons, politicians and whatever it is that Rain does, which I'm pretty sure is hitting the refresh button on the TIME 100 online-voting page. Meanwhile, me and my TIME 100 Things list will be at home downing black-market Four Lokos (No. 50) and bacon (No. 43), sexting our cloud girlfriends (No. 95) and Auto-Tuning our next YouTube song, "Groupon Supermoon" (No. 69, No. 81). And I bet I can get TIME's events department to pay for it.