Time magazine has released its 100 Most Influential People list for 2017, and as usual, the picks are a mix of perplexing and amazing — seriously, where else would you see Melinda Gates, Demi Lovato, and Julian Assange on the same list? This year, however, with so many famous, infamous, and fascinating members on the list, it's safe to say that the 2017 Time 100 Most Influential People list reflects our complicated times.
Firstly, how does the magazine select the 100 most influential people in the world? In 2016, Time published an article answering that exact question. In describing the parameters by which they select their picks for the Most Influential list, Time's editors said that there are "all sorts of yardsticks for measuring influence" that include Facebook likes, Google News mentions, and records broken. They then do a bit more digging into exactly how these influential people got where they are:
To capture what sets the honorees apart, we reached out to people who watched them rise, knew them when, understand firsthand the opportunities they seized and the obstacles they overcame.
The Time editors went on to say the people they choose people who all have an individual "vision" — visions for politics, athletics, technology, health and medicine, or activism. These people, the editors argue, all "embody a breakthrough" in their careers and lives.
When discussing the selection of this year's list, Time acknowledged the difference in tone of this year's list:
Some years the list has the feel of a loose, lively dinner party, people who mostly don't know one another but would get along if they did. This year is a bit more complicated. These past 12 months have sharpened our edges as political debates in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East and Asia, turned jagged and primal and seem almost perfectly designed to divide us more deeply.
They went on to recognize that there are people on the 2017 list that are "active opponents," from President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, to the Philippines' infamous President Rodrigo Duterte and his biggest opponent, Senator Leila de Lima.
This year's 100 Most Influential people is, as always, full of contradictions — there's not only the deeply divisive Trump, but also the women who organized the massive Women's March against him. Sandra Day O'Connor's posthumous addition to the list was written up by current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Jared Kushner's was written by none other than Henry Kissinger. It's perhaps the most complex and puzzling list in recent memory, but that tone is perfectly suited to these complicated and confusing times.