Now a New York Times bestseller and from the author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame.
'It's about the terror, isn't it?'
'The terror of what?' I said.
'The terror of being found out.'
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws - and the very scary part we all play in it.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Have you ever done something you’ve later regretted? If you’re human, the answer is “yes.” For most of us, profound regret is punishment enough—but for an unlucky few, a single mistake (and the social media fallout) can derail an entire life. In this incisive, expansive, and unendingly fascinating treatise on modern shaming, Jon Ronson deconstructs a handful of recent and very public humiliations. We were riveted by his explorations of the questions, why do we judge so quickly and who do we judge most harshly?
Bestselling author Ronson (The Psychopath Test) ruminates on high-profile shaming in the social-media age in this witty work. He interviews disgraced pop-science author Jonah Lehrer, fresh off a hellish apology tour, and the remorseful journalist who outed Lehrer as a plagiarist. PR executive Justine Sacco reflects on her own life, left in ruins after a single ill-conceived tweet, and elsewhere Ronson recounts how an inappropriate comment at a tech convention devolved into bedlam, with online threats of rape and death. For historical perspective, Ronson goes into 19th-century stockades, public whippings, and the theory of "group madness" popularized by Gustave LeBon, inspiration for the controversial Stanford Prison Experiments, in which ordinary students were transformed into sadistic guards. Ronson's explorations also take him to an S&M sex club, a ridiculous "shame-eradication workshop," and a therapy program for incarcerated women run by former New Jersey governor James McGreevey. Ronson is self-reflective and honest about his own complicity in the cultural piling-on he observes, recalling a spite-fueled campaign he orchestrated via Twitter against a journalist. Clever and thought-provoking, this book has the potential to open an important dialogue about faux moral posturing online and its potentially disastrous consequences.
Quick, humbling and enjoying read
I was unfamiliar with Jon Ronson, but can’t wait to read his other works now. My friend recommended this book to me and I’m so glad she did! I couldn’t put it down! There’s a perfect marriage between statistics, history and pop culture references. I think we can all relate to some aspect or to a ‘side’ of this new-age public shaming universe. Great read. Will definitely recommend!
Anyone who uses social media (especially Twitter) should read this book. It breaks down exactly how and why internet outrage happens, and what the consequences are for the people on the receiving end. It's pop psychology for sure, but there is a ton of genuine insight to be found here.
A great book and a wonderful cautionary tale
Thanks to Jon for writing another thought provoking exploration of a modern truth.
The book should be required reading for anyone with a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Account.