Book Review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Topic: History (Americas)

The power of social media. It can connect us, help us, advance us, and very much hurt us. That fact has never been more apparent as we funnel ourselves into a new age and a new brand of public shaming – the main topic of Jon Ronson’s book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”.

Jon Ronson is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who is also well-known for his 2012 bestselling book “The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry.” In “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”, Ronson explores a taboo topic that has only grown more prevalent as its methods have evolved over time: shame. He does this by interviewing notable and notorious recipients of Twitter and headline floggings from all around the globe. Often overtaken by a maelstrom of outrage and wrath, these individuals are frequently dehumanized to make public shaming a more digestible mob action led by those who were once voiceless in a world filled with unrighteousness. The act of shaming has become a weapon we can wield to maintain a sense of control over culture and social normality.

Ronson has a knack for being both humorous and disarming in his honesty as he weaves these stories into the pages of a book that had to be thrust in our faces. While many have the best of intentions, this book poses the question: is mob mentality really the most effective method of creating widespread and lasting change? Or… is wounding those who you disagree with only festering the dislike and inability to compromise?

Are we only widening the gap in humanity?

“The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.” 

Jon Ronson – “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”

While reading this book, I thought of the whirlwind of public shaming I’ve both witnessed and admittedly participated in over the past decade. Have I ever stopped to consider where that person is today? Is it no big deal? Am I complicit in ruining another person’s life because of an ill-timed joke or a thoughtless comment in an interview?

It’s a difficult subject to muse on because keeping emotional reactions in check is often easier said than done. A book on this topic could be 10x the length, but if you are someone who wants to further consider this interesting conundrum in today’s day and age, I recommend picking this one up.

You can watch Jon Ronson’s 2016 TED Talk in London about this book here.

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