This has been a tough year for reason and rhyme. First, Britain tossed its prosperous future in the path of an oncoming lorry just to see what would happen – and we lost virtually every celebrity worth losing. But you can't deny all of that ended up paling in comparison to that seedy orange man from The Apprentice being named the next President of the United States.

It's been a month, but most of us are still desperately trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how the hell it could have possibly come to this. Donald Trump is just weeks away from being named the most powerful leader on the planet – and how did he get there? By losing the popular vote, insulting every American ally he came into contact with, picking fights with beauty queens, hiding his tax returns, mocking the disabled and bragging about how he likes to grab women "by the pussy".

Trump has stained the very fabric of American society with a fiery new brand of racism and vitriol that will linger for decades. For many of us, it's going to be a huge struggle just to find enough strength to band together to ensure Trump and his basket of deplorables aren't able to teleport us quietly back into the Stone Age over the course of the next four years.

Make no mistake: when the history books are written, academics will enthusiastically describe the months and years to come as a dark and depressing chapter in our collective human history. And bearing that in mind, it's not difficult to understand why some people might be angry to see Donald Trump's smug orange face plastered right on the cover of Time's Person of the Year issue. Talk about adding insult to injury.

As always, it's not that black and white. But that doesn't make it okay.

You don't need to flip back too many years to get the feeling that Time's coveted Person of the Year award doesn't always go to mankind's brightest stars. Vladimir Putin, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler have all already enjoyed the very same honour upon which America's next president has just been bestowed.

Infer what you will.

Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump addresses an audience at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 6 December Getty Images

But at the end of the day, the award simply goes to "the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year". Trump certainly fits the bill there.

But dig a little deeper, and Trump's media "win" sends a worryingly ambiguous message to the world. After all, previous winners have included genuine role models. More often than not, you can bet your bottom dollar Time will choose a Person of the Year that parents will want their children to emulate in some way. And so by tossing Trump and his poisonous political upset in with a pool that includes dozens of world-renowned scientists, inspiring entrepreneurs and multiple Popes – and refusing to appropriately frame that appointment – we're starting to sail into dangerous waters.

Think about it: those who already look up to The Donald as their "God Emperor" will inevitably tally up his freshly-glided Person of the Year status as a mainstream validation of their own disgusting ideas about hatred, racism, sexism and the way the world should work. This is exactly the sort of thing that goes on to spearhead warped rationales for violence and discrimination across the globe. It will invigorate hideous far-right movements across the globe, and push us all further still into this odd Twilight Zone of sociological regression.

It might sound melodramatic, but this is really how it starts. And if we've got any hope of surviving Trump and the trials and tribulations his premiership will bring, we simply cannot afford to send ambiguous signals about this man and what he represents.

So take this all with a pinch of salt if you must – but you've also got to keep your eyes open, stay engaged and shut down misogyny or racism wherever you encounter it. If 2016 has been the year we were all introduced to Trump and his disgusting vision for the future, 2017 has got to be the year that we introduce Trump to the real world and the half-decent people who inhabit it.

Nash Riggins is an American journalist and political commentator based in Scotland.