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So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon…
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So You've Been Publicly Shamed (original 2015; edition 2015)

by Jon Ronson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1315511,612 (3.85)78
"This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter--a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun to feel weird and empty when there isn't anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn't cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What's it doing to them? What's it doing to us?"--… (more)
Member:amandafrench
Title:So You've Been Publicly Shamed
Authors:Jon Ronson
Info:Riverhead Books (2015), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Currently reading
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So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015)

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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
"Sometimes it seems like we'd rather people commit suicide than go through a boring day on social media." (pg. 291)

An inquiring, if surface-level, piece of pop-journalism on the modern social media phenomenon of public shaming. Jon Ronson's style of light bewilderment lends itself well to the rapid, vapid and venomous world of the Twitter rabble, allowing for a readable inroad into the sanctimonious mind-death of this milieu, whilst sparing us its logical end: despair at this malicious moral void which ordinary people so readily indulge.

A telling passage comes on page 274, when Ronson returns to the case of Justine Sacco, whose overnight flight was tracked live by people on social media (pg. 66) as they giddily waited for her to land and learn she had been sacked for a supposedly racist joke she had tweeted. Ronson points out that the "clunky wording" in her tweet had been seen as a "clue to her secret inner evil" of racism at the time, legitimising (in the eyes of the mob) the attempts to ruin her life. A year later, people were saying the whole affair was 'no big deal' and to 'give them a break' because she rebuilt her life. Ronson notes the hypocrisy of this warped logic: "the fact that she'd doggedly pulled things back together after a year was now being used as evidence that the shaming had been no big deal from the start."

Ronson's overall analysis is surface-level (in my review of The Psychopath Test, I described his style as more hamburger than steak) but it is good to know that a book like this exists, that there are a few people in the public sphere willing to criticise this everyday depravity. Ronson, perhaps fearing a backlash, is rather more circumspect than he ought to be, and in my view is too keen to give these anonymous shamers the benefit of the doubt. He sees it as necessary social policing gone awry, whereas the truth is that most people are nothing. Good requires an active element, like evil does, whether that is proactive or reactive. Most people are non-active. The shameless get away with appalling deeds because they brazen it out (Ronson provides some effective examples), they grin and slap you on the back, whilst the innocent get shafted because they're actually trying to make an effort. And the great non-active mass doesn't care; they only care about their own gratification or status, not right or wrong or proportion. It's much easier for them to indulge and just avoid making eye contact when people get swamped, and then tell lies to themselves when those people have gone. Out of sight, out of mind – while others have their eyes put out. ( )
  Mike_F | Feb 9, 2020 |
Great short read

A well researched and well written book with great insights into our current world that is inundated with the influence of social media ( )
  mahammaus | Sep 28, 2019 |
Let me just say that if I were in charge of designing any kind of middle /higher education curriculum, I'd suggest this book as compulsory reading. It's a lot about shame, but also about how and why it might be used as a tool, as a weapon, as punishment. It's about how *we* behave before something *we* don't like our approve. It's about how we see ourselves and others, and how social media has marked a before and after in that regard. Seriously, go read it. Fully digest it. I'm sure we all can find something of value here. ( )
  andycyca | Aug 6, 2019 |
This is a light book, it's not scientific research, I had heard a lot of bad things about this book and I think it was from people that didn't get that (though of course you can just simply not like it or have other complaints), I would have been interested in something a little more substantial but still the interviews, the life stories, were great and interesting, I do think I learned a lot about human experience by reading this book.

There is no exact conclusion in the book, and honestly there is no conclusion in my mind neither, it's such a wide topic, would a society with no shamings at all be better? Would it even be possible? I don't think so, the problem mostly is that people get too carried away online, nobody tries to understand, it dehumanises people, nobody thinks about the consequences of what they say online whether they are victim or attacker.

But what if nobody "shamed" anyone? Would that be a solution? Or people (at least some) would start taking that as permission to do whatever? Shaming is good in some grade, at certain extent, in certain situations, like the drunken driver on the book that was ordered by Judge Poe to wear a sign saying "I drive drunk and killed two persons" (or something like that) in front of cafes, he said that saved his life, he realised through that experience that he had to change and that he could, but was it the shame that did it? Or was the kind words of some passerbys? Would the effect had been the same if he had received abuse?

When people feel that they are forever tainted it's difficult for them to muster the energy to make a change, and in many cases they just simply become convinced that change is impossible, that nothing good can come from them, forever tainted.

Even though shame can be good sometimes I still prefer honesty and kindness, I would like to say shame should be totally eradicated, the truth is I don't like the idea of shaming people, I don't like making people feel bad, but what if I'm wrong and it does work in some point? Would the kindness of strangers per se been enough to make that man realise his potential? If he wasn't ashamed of his actions it probably wouldn't have worked, at least not as well.

Shame can destroy a person, and in most of the cases of the book the reaction was way overboard, but it's also letting out the messages that being offensive to others is not okay, that we have to mind our words more, problem is it isn't working, no matter how much the public lashes out to the shamed it isn't having much effect, people keep commenting stupid things online and keep paying the consequences, how can we change that? How can we stop the violence AND make people more considerate at the same time? Isn't that much violence just another symptom of the fact that people just don't consider other people human online? So how can we change that? Will it occur naturally with time?




There are of course other cases, like Lehrar, he did something wrong, he can't keep being s journalist after what he did, making facts up is in news is not a crime that can be ignored, he should have been fined for that, a few months of jail wouldn't be extreme neither, but he didn't deserve to have his life destroyed like that, he should be able to have a second chance, at least in another profession, he shouldn't be made to feel that way, no human being deserves that, the brutal amount of violent that people can spew through a screen is horrifying, why aren't they ashamed of themselves? ( )
  Rose999 | Jun 28, 2019 |
I struggled with this book. The topic is an interesting one, and we ought to be having more conversations about the role shame plays in our culture. Unfortunately, I don’t think this author was the right person to start that discussion. For one, he’s Welsh and while it seems like he’s worked for some time in the U.S., there’s a lot about our culture (particularly with regard to race, class, and social media use) that’s nuanced and likely quite different from his home culture. For two, this book was more about telling stories and less about the analysis of them that could have provided use with useful data and better directions to move in. For three, he seems to object to the very idea of social control, which is a little absurd. The social contract and the mechanisms we have for enforcing it is what prevents our society from running off the rails. I think he needed a grounding in social science before attempting to write this book of these type.

And lastly, we have to consider the roles power and privilege play. Microaggressions are real and they play a significant role in people’s frustration tolerance. When people are consistently dealing with small indignities they have much less tolerance for larger indignities, and that contributes to the way some of these situations spiraled into a significant event. Contrary to the author’s portrayal, we’re not actually circling sharks waiting for the next drop blood in the water. No, public shaming is a symptom of what’s wrong with our society as a whole rather than the effect of a society gone wrong. The distinction may be small, but it’s crucial. ( )
  mediumofballpoint | Mar 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
"[T]he choice of subject for “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” turns out to be gutsy and smart. Without losing any of the clever agility that makes his books so winning, he has taken on truly consequential material and risen to the challenge."
added by lquilter | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Mar 30, 2015)
 
This terrifying study of social media fury is another superb product from brand Ronson, humorous journalist and moralist par excellence
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Mar 5, 2015)
 
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This story begins in early January 2012 when I noticed that another Jon Ronson had started posting on Twitter.
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The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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