Book Club: So You've Been Publicly Shamed

Jon Ronson has got to be one of my favorite reporters turned authors ever. His books are fascinatingly weird and funny while being incredibly insightful, well-written and entertaining - once I start, I don't stop reading his books until I'm done. Therefore it was with great excitement that  I reached for his book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

Related post: Book Club: The Psychopath Test

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Goodreads Synopsis: 

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.
 A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

My Review

After reading this book, I discovered a newfound fear - I'm afraid that some dumb joke I tweet will go viral and millions of people all over the world will hate me, I'll lose my job, and my life will never be the same. "Well don't say anything dumb, no need to fear," you may say. That's the thing about this book, though, something so innocent and trivial that may seem like an obvious joke to you, may not land when you tweet it out or write it in a Facebook post, and suddenly, your name will become synonymous with stupidity, racism, hate, or worse.  

Ronson goes and interviews many people who have been, for lack of better term, publicly shamed. He talks about the aftermath of the woman who tweeted a thoughtless joke about AIDS and how her life was completely ruined. While it definitely makes me think twice before I tweet things out, it also makes me question how we as a society has democratized justice. Do the people on the receiving end of our anger really deserve to lose their jobs because of something careless they said? In other words, does the punishment fit the crime?

In some cases, I do think so - I'm more inclined to look at a person's intent. I follow Jon Ronson's twitter account and during the protest in Charlottesville earlier this year he tweeted about the value of shaming the men who came to spew out hate. In this case, yes, I happen to think that because they came out so publicly with their opinion, they can, and should, be able to handle a social justice mob. People who are otherwise good but made one off-color joke that just didn't land may understandably receive some backlash but I don't always think the first place to go after them is their job or their families. Like I said, it depends on their intent. 

In any case, I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who are looking for something entertaining and thought-provoking. 

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  1. This book sounds so interesting! I'm definitely going to look for it at the library :)


  2. This sounds fascinating! Someone that worked for my office previously had a similar situation happen to them and it definitely makes you think about the heaviness of social media!

  3. It is truly terrifying to think people can take an innocent comment one makes on the internet and it turn into something horrible. I think it's smart to always be careful, but also to be true to one's beliefs and stand strong when ridiculed.

  4. Sounds super interesting. I will have to give it a good.

  5. This sounds so interesting! I definitely need to check it out!

    The Blush Blonde

  6. This book does sound really interesting! I'll have to take a closer look at it!

  7. I have been seeing this book all over my Goodreads! It sounds so interesting!

  8. This sounds like a great book. Public shaming is so bad these days. I saw one post on FB about this woman who put a baby down on the floor at an airport. So many of my friends were just posting some horrible things not even knowing the background of what actually was taking place in the picture.

  9. I heard about this book on NPR a year ago or so and they interviewed the author about the book and it sounded great. I'll have to give this one shot.

  10. That book sounds both super interesting but also slightly terrifying! The idea of public shaming is just so scary to me.

  11. Sounds like a book I need to check out! very cool!

  12. I've never heard of this book, but as a professional digital marketer and someone who cares deeply about self-esteem online, this sounds like a must-read!
    Tori || Victori Media

  13. Never heard of this book before, but I will def have to check it out!

  14. It's pretty crazy to think that one tweet or mistake can change your whole world. It makes you really think about what you're putting out into the world. This book sounds so interesting, I really want to read it!


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