Wednesday, January 10, 2018

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I’ve heard of it. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is an exploration of a (not so) modern phenomenon - public shaming. By talking to many people who have been shamed one way or the other and how they’ve adapted to it, Jon Ronson tries to understand the issue.

People interviewed in this book included Justine Stacco (of the misguided tweet), Mike Daisy (of This American Life’s Apple factory episode infamy), Lindsey Stone (of the disrespectful photo) and many more. Along the way, Jon Ronson also explores the idea of the mob mentality, the radical honesty movement, and if our google search results are forever.

By the end of the book, Jon Ronson reaches the conclusion that “we see ourselves as nonconformist, but I think all of this is creating a more conformist, conservative age [...] We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside it.”

I agree with this observations, but I’m in two minds about whether it’s good or bad. On one hand, we should allow people to have a diverse range of opinions. On the other hand, we shouldn’t condone hate speech against other races, religions, or people advising others to do unethical or illegal things. So where do we draw the line? Can we draw a line?

What I liked about this book was the portrayal of the various people interviewed. Some of them were exposed for things I would personally find repugnant, but I found empathy for all of them. The only one I didn’t like was Adria Richards, because she was an unrepentant hypocrite (although no one should ever have to go through what she has). On the other hand, the man she (wrongly) shamed was a lot more likeable and sympathetic.

In conclusion, if you’re interested in exploring the issue of modern public shaming and how people react to it, you should give this book a go. Just a word of caution: some of the chapters involve a discussion of things like BDSM so I wouldn’t recommend this to younger teens.


  1. I think this is something I would really like to read. I am of a mixed mind on this topic too, but it is one that really interests me. I am adding this to my wish list.

    1. It's a really fascinating book. Hope you get to read it soon!


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