So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Author: Jon Ronson
Publisher: Picador, 2016

Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed establishes as its thesis that shaming is more prevalent than ever in the modern world through the advent of social media. Ronson follows the stories of those who have been shamed, those who have done the shaming and the consequences for both.

He comes to the conclusion that basically everyone is on the side of the stone throwers, but some unfortunately experience the full and even catastrophic ramifications of being publicly shamed.

Beginning with a story of his own identify theft at the hands of a spambot, created by a group of academics trying to prove a point, Ronson explains how the shaming of the individuals responsible through social media helped to restore his identity.

Further, he explores how shaming the powerful in response to their misdemeanours has resulted in significant changes to policy and the retraction of damaging opinions.

However, he also tells the story of Jonah Lehrer, who is disproportionately publicly shamed for creatively embellishing a biographical text and the sad story of Justine Sacco, who writes a questionable twitter post that goes viral, and ends up losing her job and her reputation.

Along with recounting the stories of individuals whose lives have been irretrievably affected by social media trolling, Ronson tells stories about those who work to restore the online stature to those affected and those who see shaming as a form of justice for crimes committed.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a fascinating, insightful and well-researched book about the prevalence of public shaming practices in the digital age.

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