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About the Author
An Amazon Best Book of April 2015: Author Jon Ronson knows a thing or two about public shaming. When a trio of "academics" hijacked his persona for an infomorph—basically an automated Twitter feed that spewed inane comments about food in his name—he took the fight to the internet, where the virtual, virulent hordes soon compelled the spambot authors to cease and desist. The experience hatched a thought: Once upon a time, if you wanted to participate in a good, old-fashioned public humiliation, you actually had to show up. But as with most everything else, the internet has made condemnation an exercise in crowdsourcing, with today’s angry mobs trading stockades and scarlet As for social media and its inherent anonymity.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Ronson's tour through a not-necessarily-brave new world where faceless commenters wield the power to destroy lives and careers, where the punishments often outweigh the crimes, and where there is no self-control and (ironically) no consequences. On one hand, part of what makes this book (again, ironically) so fun to read is a certain schadenfreude; it’s fun to read about others' misfortunes, especially if we think they "had it coming." Jonah Lehrer, whose admitted plagiarism and falsifications probably earned him his fall, stalks these pages. But so does Justine Sacco, whose ill-conceived tweet probably didn’t merit hers; as it turns out, the internet doesn’t always differentiate the misdemeanors from the felonies. But the best reason to read this is Ronson's style, which is funny and brisk, yet informative and never condescending. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not a scholarly book, nor is it a workbook about navigating ignominy. It's an entertaining investigation into a growing--and often disturbing--demimonde of uncharitable impulses run amok. --Jon Foro--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00L9B7IRC
- Publisher : Riverhead Books (March 31, 2015)
- Publication date : March 31, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 4336 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 306 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #71,349 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Mr. Ronson writes in an accessible and breezy style, which has its merits, and he seems a bit more thoughtful than your average pop sociologist, and he's a bit more rigorous with his questions than your average journalist. Still, having read the book, it felt light on substance, more like a think piece in a magazine or maybe a 10,000 word long-form article in "The Atlantic."
I admire Mr. Ronson for wanting to constantly check his own assumptions and question his motives, but this desire for honesty with himself sometimes shades into solipsism. Too often in this book, it seemed that Ronson was more apt to concern himself with how things made him feel rather than what he thought. And each time he overturned some stone whose underbelly seemed worth exploring, he quickly moved on. Everything he does alright reminds me of works by someone else on the same subject done much better. The sort of Stasi-Big Brother-Panopticon concept of a society where we all police ourselves, and our thoughts, and try to police those of our neighbors, reminded me very much of Timur Kuran's "Public Lies, Public Truths," and Ronson's book regrettably suffered each time the comparison made its way to the fore during the course of the book.
His recognition that our current mavens of propriety have their origin in English and New England Puritanism is also true, but David Hacker Fischer and Colin Woodard both figured this out well before Ronson, and considering Ronson's an Englishman, his inability to expound upon what he sees as the neo-Puritanism of progressives is frustrating, but, at the same time understandable. To probe too deeply into this area would be to risk alienating a large segment of potential readers, who might take it as an insult if Ronson were to link their social justice crusade with previous moral crusades (there seems to be an overlap between social justice types and atheists, so the last thing you want to do is point out to these people that they're basically religious fanatics).
Still this is a decent, timely, and even-handed treatment of the virtues and dangers of social sanction, applied now to the virtual commons rather than the "meatspace" of the city square or the agora.
Overall, the anecdotes about people who have been publicly shamed are interesting, but the book seems kind of aimless at times. It also only explores the subject matter at a superficial level, not delving too deeply into causes or consequences of this new trend in social media justice.
It was fast read, and Ronson's style is agreeable and easy. I'm just not sure the actual content was fleshed out enough to warrant the price of a book.
I'd been thinking about this topic quite a bit before I saw this book had been written, because there have been several examples recently of massive, scorched earth web campaigns against things that I thought was fairly innocuous. It seemed like yet another example of how quickly seemingly civilized people can turn into a vicious pack of animals, and it's frightening, even in the service of a "good" cause.
The web can be a powerful tool for justice when other avenues have failed, for example, when an individual is fighting a powerful company. On the other hand, sometimes the punishment can vastly outweigh the crime, and peoples' lives end up ruined for one tasteless joke on Twitter, or even a complete misunderstanding.
Ronson goes through numerous examples, some of which I'd heard of and some of which I hadn't. He then connects internet shaming to historical public shaming, and explores other sorts of shaming, going so far as to visit the filming of an S&M movie.
It's interesting and entertaining from beginning to end. I was particularly fascinated to learn that there are now companies who (for a very large fee) will "obscure" your internet presence, so embarrassing things won't be quite so prominent.
My heart gave it five stars because it was fun to read. My head might ding it one, because it never really comes together with a coherent theme. Much as he did in The Men Who Stare at Goats, he tells a lot of very entertaining stories, and then tries to tie it together by connecting dots that don't really connect. A lot of things - like the trip the the S&M club - are just enjoyable non-sequiturs. It seems like he's trying to overthink something that's not really that complicated - just a natural extension of human nature into the digital age.
There's no great epiphany, and it's not clear anything can be "done" about the situation. Still, the book is very entertaining, and serves as a good cautionary tale, both for our own behavior, and for our reactions to the behavior of others. Highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
The books shows us how a thoughtless sentence, a careless statement or a moment of just not thinking before you hit the keyboard can lead to both famous and unknown people getting ripped apart online. It also offers us 'real world' cases of attempted shaming that didn't go as expected such as Max Mosley taking a national newspaper to court for claiming his sadomasochistic sex session with 3 sex workers in uniforms was a 'Nazi' reenactment - Mosley didn't care who knew about his sex life but refused (due to his infamous father Oswald Mosley) to have any association with the Nazis.
There's a lot to think about in here. Several times the author suggests that the only way to survive in the modern world is to be totally bland and unnoticeable. At a time when the so-called 'Leader of the Free World' takes to Twitter like a scorned teenager with no behavioural 'filters', this book shows us the importance now, more than ever, of thinking before we speak/tweet/write, and of our responsibility to manage our online and real world reputations.
In this very readable book, Jon Ronson interviews people who have been publicly shamed or, in the case of a teenaged girl who committed suicide, a close relative.
Not all public shaming takes place online. The girl just mentioned felt very humiliated during the trial of the boy who raped her. (I remember reading about this at the time.)
In fact, although the book is readable, it is also very uncomfortable to read. And what makes it even more uncomfortable is the realisation that when you 'call someone out' online as the current jargon has it, you could be the instigator, or one of the participants of, a process in which someone is tried and found guilty by 'the mob' -- sometimes without their even being aware of it at the time. You may object to being labelled as one of a mob, especially if you have only three followers on Twitter. But as Ronson says: "The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche".
Ronson is a very good writer, in that he brings some humour and humility to the subject matter. He also manages to end each chapter on a cliffhanger -- which is quite annoying if you need to get other things done!
There is just one area in which I think Ronson is not forceful enough. He says:
"unpleasant as it will surely be for you, when you see an unfair or an ambiguous shaming unfold, speak up on behalf of the shamed person. A babble of opposing voices – that’s democracy."
It's a natural human instinct, I think, to wish to 'stand up for' someone, but there are two other considerations as well. In my opinion, standing by while someone is accused, tried, found guilty and punished sullies the online community. I know of a couple of online forums in which people are pounced upon for no other reason than expressing a contrary view to the majority. It's impossible to have an intellectual or even a merely intelligent discussion in such a negatively febrile atmosphere.
But even if one were to be completely self-centred in such matters, if you don't support some hapless victim, who do you think will support you when it's your turn? And have no doubt: probably one day it WILL be your turn.
On another note, the way you structured this book, and the way you handled these sometimes quite sensitive topics alongside funny, witty commentary was so engaging and made for a really enjoyable read. Will definitely recommend, and hope people start changing soon. I'm getting really sick of the poison that is social media.
I remember feeling compelled to buy #soyouvebeenpubliclyshamed as I listened.
Well, it took some time but I finally got around to reading it.
I *love* Ronson’s fantastically engaging writing, he draws you into the stories, you hear his voice in his words and you feel what he feels as you read.
That is incredibly important when it comes to this book. If you’ve ever said something on social media and been leapt on by the screaming masses or been one of the faceless shamers hidden by anonymity or for anyone that has ever been on social media; READ THIS BOOK!!
It has been invaluable in many discussions I’ve been having on social media and I have been referencing it weekly if not daily! Even on LinkedIn the bad faith detractors will pick the slightest hole in a comment or a post and come for you with sharpened knives baying for blood.
This is not a guide to save you but will allow you to bring some rationality to the whole thing.
10/10 and all the stars from me