Anyone who is a regular to this blog knows that I am a massive fan of Jon Ronson. After reading ‘The Psychopath Test’ (the detailed and enthusiastic review for that is here) I went and bought all of his books and downloaded his podcasts. My next book of choice was ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. Again, a similar thing happened when I started reading this book, I realised it sounded familiar. “Oh yes!” I thought, “I have already seen him do a Ted Talk on this topic.” The TedTalk also stuck in my mind, and so I will link to it below:
Although he explores many medias, Ronson mainly focuses his attention on online shaming- in particular Twitter. How people can tweet a misworded joke and end up being hated by the entire world. Death threats and rape threats thrown at them, and real-life ramifications such as being fired. Online shaming and exposure is even more relevant now than it was in 2015 when this novel was published as people like beauty-guru Laura Lee, director of Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn, and more recently even beloved comedy-actor Kevin Hart have been under fire as people have dug up offensive tweets from years ago. It has started a debate around how long can someone have a dodgy tweet held against them? Should someone be fired for saying something offensive years ago, or do we forgive them? Who even deserves forgiveness? Is a racist tweet worse than a homophobic/sexist tweet? Ronson touches on these issues and more in his book. He also looks to empathise with the shamed. He gives context to their misworded tweets and gives advice on how to ride the shaming train and come out unscathed. He looks into the mob-mentality of public shaming and the psychology of being embarrassed. He researches cases where people have felt so ashamed for their acts that they have committed suicide (for example, Ashley-Madison is a site for people looking to start an affair. It was hacked and the names and details of thousands of users were leaked).
I recommend this book to anyone else who is as aware of the rise in online scandals and shaming and wants to explore the debates surrounding it. I would love to hear of your thoughts down below!
Love from, Evie x