So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson - Book Review

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson - Book Review

The latest magnum opus from journalist and notes documentarian Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, published in 2015, provides the prescient and witty analysis we have come to expect from the talented writer.

A scathing critique of our contemporary “cancel” culture that is sometimes too quick to pull the trigger. The book offers a series of salient essays about seemingly despicable people and ends up providing a trenchant analysis of shame and its meaning in our current reality.

Shaming others who move beyond the confines of the social order is a time-honored tradition, especially given America’s puritanical roots. However, Ronson argues that we may have gone too far, and the shaming efforts have been ramped up to a ridiculous degree given how quickly social media platforms spread information without proper context. 

Ronson begins the book with a personal anecdote of his own, exploring how he took part in the shaming of groups of people who were spamming Twitter feeds. His campaign worked, and he got plenty of people online to side with him.

This led the author on a quest to inhabit the shoes of someone who has been publicly shamed, and to explore the ramifications of such actions inspired by something that looks an awful lot like what is known as a“herd mentality.” 

So, Ronson finds himself going down a rabbit hole with people who have said or done reprehensible things, and his findings are rather illuminating. He reaches out to a woman who made a tasteless and inexplicably racist joke on her way to Africa, only to find upon landing in that country that now, not only has she lost her job, but she is subjected to violent cyber attacks.

While her firing was certainly deserved, Ronson also makes us question the perverse pleasure we, as a society, take to shame those whom we feel have wronged, and how genuine such efforts are.

Now, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not an attempt to let anyone off the hook. But rather, it is an unexpected - and entertaining look - at the cost-benefit of shaming someone via online platforms, rather than searching for a true sense of justice.

It is also a call for our society to be more empathetic, kind, and not so quick to judge - a lesson that five years after publication, we could all stand to learn.

Book Details

Title: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
Format: Paperback
Author: Jon Ronson
Language : English
Publisher : Riverhead Books
ISBN: 1594634017

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