So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015-03-09)

By Jon Ronson%3B

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
suranjeeta
A fun read but NO CONCLUSION. No explanation of how to deal or who the subjects have bounced back. I thought this would be a n interesting read about how modern communications have devastating effects on lives and how that can be worked out of but no. its just a depressing collection of inclosed case studies.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
darlynne
I could see myself in the self righteous prigs who shame, and the unwitting victims who posted a thoughtless tweet, and the people who are afraid of being found out. The stories are well told and the narrative arc compelling. I definitely will think thrice before piling on and look for ways to stop shaming when it is in my power.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
corey carrier
Nice to hear bullies admit that they're bullies...great book, very enlightening. Interesting how "big" lives can be ruined just like "small" ones. Just as painful, only difference is the "small" ones go unnoticed.
A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain :: Inside the Relationships of inevitable Harm With Psychopaths :: Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (2011-06-01) :: The Men Who Stare At Goats by Ronson - Jon (2012) Paperback :: A Journey Through the Madness Industry - The Psychopath Test
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
amir saharkhiz
Interesting but didn't have a good flow. Takes you all over the place. However, the author makes some great point, just forgets the main one. My at of these people shaming others in public media are basically cowards. If they came face to face with a person they wouldn't have the gonads to say 10% of what the write.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linara
This book is the kind that grabs you from the first page. I pre-ordered it after reading a preview excerpt published in The Guardian and was hooked from there. So far my best book purchase of the year! If you are like me and want to get back into their leisure reading habit and need the right book to pull you out of the rut, then this is that book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kylie
Ronson is always a good read. He's funny and finds incredible stories which are relayed to us, the readers, in both humble and entertaining tales of life on the little blue planet. I'll read everything he writes, then re-read them till the next one comes out.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kate brown
This book provides a real education on the effects of Twitter membership. It's a cautionary tale, for sure. I give it a 3 because it seems disjointed, with the somewhat snarky and immoderately gleeful rubbing-it-in about young Lehrer, who was caught self-plagiarizing and who lost his income from his creativity book to the tune of thousands of dollars per talk. As an academic who's often asked to repeat herself in various requested chapters in edited books, self-plagiarism is a real scourge, and I find myself paraphrasing myself for hours on end and referencing myself to clear the decks, so I can't blame Lehrer too much for it. He tried to write pop psychology and, unlike Gladwell, his fellow writer for The New Yorker, who is often cited as having invented the 10,000 hour rule (please! it was Ericsson, et al.!--who he cited but who were and are not given credit) Lehrer wasn't as skillful. The picture Ronson paints of Lehrer standing beneath a giant screen while giving an apology and while anonymous Twitterers rake him and take him down, is sad and a timeless image of shame. But the real heart of this book is the excruciating dig into the cavalier tweets and selfies of certain young women, who have paid for their spontaneity with their careers and their confidence in themselves. Quit Twitter. Who cares what people think moment to moment?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin pope
This should be required reading in all high schools.

Really shows you how Internet shaming/bullying and anonymous mob mentality can destroy the lives of real people.

I love Jon Ronson's Journalists stories.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cassandra smith
It's highly readable and I enjoyed the book, but ultimately Ronson is just telling a story without making any attempt at a larger analysis. He doesn't take issues of systemic racism or sexism into account when examining the reaction to people's foolish online statements, and that's a problem when women and POC are treated so differently. Why is it that a woman's gaffe leads to violent threats of death and rape? What is it about women and people of color expressing themselves online that provokes such hatred? The book's not bad, just kind of empty, and I wish I'd paid more attention to criticisms of Ronson's perspective before I spent money on it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
eric curiel
Mr. Ronson tackles an important subject and shows real empathy for people who have been on the receiving end of public humiliation. He rightly says that such humiliation is worse than corporal punishment but what he doesn't do is suggest ways to counteract or ameliorate this public castigation. What can we do? I'd be interested to hear what people have to say. But back to the book, it didn't seem to be as well organized as I would have liked and as I said before there was no conclusion. He does mention the European law that gives the right to be forgotten, which in my opinion, even with its problems is a step in the right direction. The book is worth reading to acquaint yourself with what's going on in the world (if you need reminding).
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shawnette
I read Jon Ronson's book "Men Who Stare at Goats". I thought that it was a poorly written badly researched book. The "men who stare at goats" are members of the military. Reading this book I wondered if Ronson was the victim of a the kind of practical joke that my friends in the military love.

I am the architect of the social network nderground (nderground dot net) which is a social network built for privacy. One reasons that we built nderground is to provide a safe space where users can interact with their friends without worrying that what they write will be taken out-of-context. In several cases posts taken out-of-context on social media like Twitter have resulted in people losing their jobs and seriously harming their careers.

Ronson's book "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" appears to deal with the topic of public shaming in the era of the Internet and social media. The book does have a number of chapters on Internet shaming. There is enough material here to make a long magazine article, although all of this material has been written about by other journalists in the New York Times and Wired Magazine.

Ronson seems to specialize in taking a magazine length topic and expanding it to book length by wandering through a number related issues.

The book opens with an account of how Ronson was able to use Internet shaming to get three British academics to remove a Twitter bot that was posting as Jon Ronson. What I found odd about this is that Ronson didn't contact the University department where the graduate students were enrolled. Most University departments would find the behavior described by Ronson unethical.

There is also a long account that deals with Jonah Lehrer, who wrote a book titled "Imagine: How Creativity Works" that, as the author eventually admitted, includes quote that the author made up and attributed to the musician Bob Dylan.

Made up quotes about real historical figures poison the historical record. In this case it appears that Jonah Lehrer was lazy. Rather than properly footnoting his material he wrote something that Dylan would have said, but didn't.

Reading this section I kept thinking about the fact that the research literature is full of results that cannot be reproduced. In my field, computer science, researchers often do not make public the software and data that underlie their papers, so another research group cannot easily check the results reported in the paper. The problem is even worse in biology where reproducing research results is extremely expensive. Research groups only check the most important results reported in the literature because of the time and expense.

The lifeblood of science consists of the results reported in research papers and reports. The fact that much of this science is difficult to reproduce, at best, or impossible to reproduce, at worst, seems to be a more serious problem than a made up Dylan quote.

Following the account of Jonah Lehrer's literary naughtiness, there are several chapters on Internet shaming. At this point the book starts to lose coherence. It wanders through a number of other instances of shaming, from days of the American colonies forward. Ronson includes a chapter or so on Max Mosley, the son of Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford. Oswald Mosley and his wife Diana were notorious Nazi sympathizers and were imprisoned during the Second World War.

A British tabloid published an article that claimed that Max Mosley had thrown a Nazi themed sexual spanking party. As it turned out, the Nazi part was untrue and Mosley was able to successfully sue the tabloid. This is a somewhat interesting vignette, but is completely unrelated to Internet shaming campaigns. If Mosley had been "exposed" on Twitter, his success in fighting the liable might not have been as successful.

On the basis of the two Ronson books I've read it appears that he has no idea of how to write a coherent book that closely follows a topic. This is the last Ronson grab bag of a book that I plan on reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
delia
I've often considered the effect of Internet shaming on its recipients and thought that frequently the punishment outstrips the crime. Jon Ronson's book is entertaining and thought provoking, but I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with his conclusions. Important questions are left unanswered.

One in particular struck me. Internet shamers shame with seeming impunity. Why? A woman posts a disrespectful photo of herself behaving badly at a national military cemetery and the shamers launch into attack mode referring to her as the c-word and calling for her to be raped and then murdered, or murdered and then raped. So, why does no one call out the shamers for their despicable, mysogynistic behavior? Why doesn't someone shame the shamers? In other words, wouldn't we expect that with all the shocking behavior of the shamers themselves, the shamers would turn against and ultimately devour each other?

And that leads to a few more unanswered questions: Who are the most vitriolic and violent of these shamers? Should we be concerned about them and their brand of vigilante justice? Why do they think it's okay to respond to perceived bad behavior with absolutely vile and despicable behavior of their own?

When I say I'm not satisfied with Ronson's conclusions, I mean that in a good way. I mean that his book has set me to thinking. Ronson has encouraged me to get outside myself, to want to know more about the phenomenon of Internet shaming and to become more of an active, positive participant in the virtual community. I enthusiastically recommend this book. I also liked that it was a quick read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
amber liechty
This book is ok for the price a content. Ronson has some type of female savior complex throughout, though. Either he saves and redeems every woman or she's written off, like Adria Richard's or the Texas senator's secretary. This book is pretty biased.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
dave hutchison
I read a lot, and I read a little bit of everything, I'm not sure what the purpose of this book is,To me it seems like everybody else did the work, this is just reporting on different circumstances he found interesting. (GOTCHA moments that journalists and the media might get off on)
" The truth is rarely pure and never simple"........Oscar Wilde....most people kind of get this...This is the equivalent of a recording artist putting out a Christmas CD........just MY opinion..if you want to purchase it wait for it to hit the Bargain Bin....but don't take my word on this, I'm not too bright..I bought this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
adel ibrahem
Jon Ronson’s non-fiction book, So You Have Been Publicly Shamed, does not do for me what I expected the title suggested it might do, at least in part. In light of today’s news regarding the shaming of teens by teens with criminal texting being done to shame for the fun of it, the author missed an opportunity. I’m tuned into what happens to young people and the consequences of their being publicly shamed all too often with nasty and even heart breaking consequences. So, to address the task of critiquing the book, I would say that although the title is intriguing, the author’s development of the topic lacks the immediacy of what is a serious problem at a more basic level involving our children.

Our town’s library chose So You Have Been Publicly Shamed for this year’s “One Book One Town” series. There have been excellent choices in the past, but this year’s choice is not at all what I expected. I was expecting a book on the topic of kids shaming kids and not one about adults shaming adults. The former rises more to the level of consequential than the one about adults caught in a ring of scandalous shaming like that included in the title book, in which one of the “shaming” chapters tells the story of a Kennebunk Madame whose released list of clients shames prominent and not so prominent members of the community.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jemeka edwards
I had seen good reviews, so decided this had to be a must read. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, it is a meandering, slightly connected series of stories that are not at all interesting. This book is not worth owning or reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathy speelhoffer
"So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson was a surprisingly good read that I could not put down. I guess I fall into that category of those who are fascinated by the aftermath of the shaming. With so many of us online and posting on Social Media we need to be mindful of what we tell people about our lives for fear of being called out. There are more people than I ever thought existed ready to find fault and post it with glee for all to see the error of your online ways. Sometimes you are put in the spot where you really need to stand up for yourself and other times it's better to just say nothing. But, what do you do if your job or professional reputation depends on the public view of you?

What if you did nothing wrong?

It's amazing how far down the public can take you if you dare to do wrong. Maybe what you did was misunderstood or maybe it was wrong, how far down do you have to go to learn your lesson, if you learn it at all? Is it a good idea to make a public apology? Let's ask Bill Clinton. Or better yet Monica Lewinsky who still wears the neon shame sign...who was the married one?

I had imagined I would find the book interesting but I had no idea how easy it was for this book to hook me in. It's fascinating. One thing I didn't expect was how much the majority of us are involved with online public shaming online. It gives on pause to consider their words more carefully.

A timely must read for anyone who spends time online.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara freer
I only reluctantly got a Twitter account approximately 11 months ago. I tend to avoid almost all other forms of social media. Perhaps this is a function of my being 50 years old and still being slightly afraid of all of this technology, but in any case I approach many aspects of the online world with a lot more nervousness than when my kids mess around online, heedless of the consequences.

As it turns out, perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. Jon Ronson's book, on its surface, looked to be rather entertaining, but ended up being a rather sobering examination of the devastation which can occur when collective online outrage reaches its fever pitch. The recipients of these public shamings have definitely done something which rightfully upsets other people, but the catastrophic levels of the fallout usually far exceeds whatever the original misdeed was (most of the time, showing really poor judgment and/or taste). I remember some of these episodes when they happened, but had never really thought about the long-term consequences of provoking the wrath of the Internet. It turns out, the consequences are pretty damned devastating, and scary --- and something that none of the recipients could have possibly expected.

Ronson examines not only the phenomenon of public shaming, but how some people emerge from it more or less unscathed, while others find their lives very nearly destroyed. Is there a secret to surviving this? Or perhaps there is a technique one can apply? Ronson samples some of the more peculiar & exotic approaches, and this section of the book seemed to me to be a bit askew from the rest of the book. Some of this might be due to Ronson's own dissatisfaction with them, which bleeds into the text itself. In any case, the fit is awkward. Ultimately, Ronson moves into the realm of the downright creepy --- the services which will (assuming that you possess the not inconsiderable resources to pay them) quietly go about the business of remaking the landscape of the Internet and obscuring the shameful online pasts of their clients. This is scary, possibly as scary as being destroyed by an anonymous online mob, because there actually people out there who deserve to be destroyed but are able to manipulate the Internet enough to muddy the waters and make themselves appear less loathsome than they truly are.

If nothing else, this book will make you think twice before posting something which could be construed as inflammatory or insensitive. I'm just glad that most of my more opinionated the store reviews are too long to make it on Twitter.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
maryjo
What it’s about: The title says it all. Ronson realized that social media (Twitter especially) were a vehicle for the kind of punishment that had been gone for nearly two hundred years: “We were at the start of a great renaissance of public shaming. After a lull of almost 180 years (public punishments were phased out in 1837 in the United Kingdom and in 1839 in the United States), it was back in a big way. When we deployed shame, we were utilizing an immensely powerful tool. It was coercive, borderless, and increasing in speed and influence. Hierarchies were being leveled out. The silenced were getting a voice. It was like the democratization of justice.”

With each chapter of this non-fiction book, Ronson explores a different public shaming. There are some who seem deserving of their shamings, like Jonah Lehrer, a young, successful writer who was lazy and arrogant . . . and fabricated Bob Dylan quotations for a piece he wrote. Despite the fact that many of his pieces were later found to contain shady stuff (more fake quotes, self-plagiarization, etc.), Lehrer never seemed to own his transgressions or sincerely apologize for them.

On the flip side, there are people like Justine Sacco, who told a really classless joke. She was getting on a plane to Africa for vacay, and, right before she turned off her phone, she jokingly tweeted to her 170 followers: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” She was in the air for eleven hours. And, when she landed and turned her phone back on, she was greeted by a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to in years: “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.” You guessed it: her tweet had been retweeted approximately one billion times. People were waiting for her at the airport to take her picture for public-shaming purposes. Long story short: she lost her job and could barely show her face in public for months. Now, her Twitter handle has been coopted and is used for “Tweets about racial, social and economic justice.” She’s turned into a cautionary tale. Ouch.

Rating: 3/5

This book isn’t going to change your life or give you any epiphanies, but it’s a fun one to pass the time. It’s basically non-fiction fluff. There are some interesting stories but not a lot of substance. Ronson’s writing is fast-paced and easy to read. Some of the stories are pretty unbelievable (FYI, crazy troll people are lurking all around you. Beware!). And there are some funny tidbits, like the stuff about Brad Blanton’s Shame-Eradication Workshop (yes, this is a real thing).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jlyons
After reading this book, I was afraid. As every high school student forced to study The Scarlet Letter knows, public shaming has always been with us. And I think many of us already understand on an intellectual level how our methods of instantaneous communication and “viral” Internet stories have changed the landscapes of our lives. However, Mr. Ronson does an excellent job of making that change visceral.

Public shaming often has purpose and can be an effective tool. Mr. Ronson describes his own use of public shaming to take down some Internet trolls who impersonated him online. But his experience seemed quite different from the situations he goes on to describe in his book. In particular, protecting his own online identity didn’t have the result of completely destroying the lives and reputations of the people who impersonated him. That is not the case in many of the stories about which Ronson writes.

Sometimes people deserve to be called out. We can debate about whether the punishment fits the crime for a wholesale plagiarizer like Jonah Lehrer but there is no doubt that he was a long-term cheater. What is scarier is the way that a quick tweet or a stupid attempt at a joke can impact the lives not only of public figures but also of unknown people who become famous with one wrong line or picture. Someone whose crassness might once have gone through a circle of acquaintances and been forgotten is now public and forever, causing lost jobs and broken families.

Even worse is the loss of privacy: having a conversation with someone that somehow gets overheard and recorded and then blasted out to the world. Everyone occasionally says something to a friend that is inappropriate for myriad reasons—in an attempt at humor, because we’re upset, because we’re trying to make a point. Taken out of context, they become humiliating. Online, they become destructive.

Yes, Mr. Ronson is a funny and entertaining writer. He also spends some time trying to show what the second act of a ruined life might look like. And yet, that doesn’t change the scariness of the destroyed lives he describes. Honestly, though I don’t find myself to be particularly controversial, I sometimes worry that a line that I’ve written in one of my many online reviews will take on a life of its own and go beyond my meaning or control. It’s made me try to be more careful about how I say something. Sometimes, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sabrina
An interesting book dealing with the phenomenon of online shaming. It brings up a number of (in)famous shamings and some others that you'd never have heard of. As usual Ronson writes in an entertaining, wry style that is easy to read. Unfortunately the topic is mostly depressing so Ronson can be as off-beat as he likes in the telling, but it's still a sad story.

If there is one thing to take out of this book: Never post anything online under your real name.

Lock down your private profile really tight on facebook, twitter and instagram and create generic accounts if you want to make any kind of online commentary.

All it takes is one stupid post and your reputation could be in ruins. Ultimately I was left a little bit depressed after reading this book. It's well written and a good warning to us all, but I don't like to read something and be depressed afterwards.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ilja
This is a book about the downside of social media: the way that people can say thoughtless and stupid but hardly criminal things and then be publicly shamed and hounded by a frenzied mass of internet users. It profiles people like Justine Sacco, who made an unthinking joke about AIDS not being a white person's disease or Lindsey Stone, who posed for a disrespectful photograph at Arlington National Ceremony. Both ended up losing their job and becoming social recluses after the Internet "turned on them".

Jon Ronson interviews a wide range of people - people who shamed, people who were shamed, people who can help shamees to be rehabilitated. It's a thought provoking and entertaining book which gets you thinking about how the anonymity of the Internet allows us to turn on others. What I found particularly disturbing is the double standard for men and for women. The criticism of women always seems to lead to comments like "hope this c*** gets raped and stabbed to death", an observation that Ronson makes but doesn't get to the bottom of.

Ultimately the book is too disjointed. It feels like Ronson took on a topic which kept offering new avenues to explore and he didn't quite know how to shape it and bring it together. There's a lot of information presented but it's weak in terms of presenting a cohesive conclusion. Nevertheless, it's a timely and fascinating read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
samonia byford
Terribly disappointing, this book is a very light, sometimes fun collection of stories about people who have had an avalanche of social media rain down on them. It's interesting in a way, as it discusses the significance and impact of this relatively new type of public shaming, but it is quite superficial and meandering, and never gets around to any real advice or insights. If you think carefully you might be able to glean some ideas on how to prevent being shamed or deal with it if you have been shamed, but good luck. There really isn't anything solid here. It feels like I've paid twelve bucks for a superficial magazine article that promised to give advice but ultimately boils down to "we shouldn't be so eager to shame people, it's bad" and "to avoid being shamed, say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing". Not exactly inspiring. I wish I could get my money back.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
crystal curry
Instead of writing out what I think of what was said and how it was presented, I'm just going to say why I love it.

Jon has made me rethink my entire online persona. For the last few years I have been mostly ignoring the Internet and social media, leaving very little impact. Especially when compared to years past.

Listening to this has shone a light on how I was and how I am now and how I want to be in the future. More importantly, it has reminded me of an important part of online behavior that I am teaching my son, and that is often ignored in favor of teaching personal safety to children (which is still incredibly important, just not the only thing to teach.) It has reminded me that I need to reinforce in him that every interaction he had with someone online is with another human, and that they not only have real feelings, but his words will always have real power. That destroying someone for having a bad day or making a bad joke is unacceptable, and that the power button is always a better response than hate filled rage.

I'm giving a copy of this book to every teacher and parent I know. As a society, especially a digital one, we need more reminder like this that we aren't faceless words on a screen. We are humans directly affecting one another in real ways. Ways that we cannot even fathom, justified by separating ourselves from the mobs we are forming simply because we are not in direct face to face proximity of.

We all need to be better humans, in every aspect of our lives. Be it in the shopping market or on the Internet. We are better than we sometimes act.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nrawr
(I read as library book, so not a "verified purchaser" here)

I never look at my twitter account, so I was unaware of the phenomenon described in this book. Other reviews have described what is going on. What struck me was the way Shaming has become an alternate "legal" system. Ronson's description of the effect on the lives of the shamees is chilling because it shows condemnation with actual effects in the real world--loss of job, death threats, psychological damage precluding being a useful member of society. Sound like prison? But this is all without the slightest reference to the rights we take for granted when we are accused of wrong doing: due process, the ability to defend your own point of view, the requirement that the wrongdoing is actually ILLEGAL or at least worthy of civil penalties. Stupidity is not yet illegal (luckily for many of the trolls described in the book) but it can be devastatingly and relentlessly punishable. For me, this was the overriding theme of the book.

Some reviewers didn't like "digressions." That is a matter of taste: I enjoyed them. (And I don't think the porno sequence was a digression: it was part of his argument that sexual transgressions are no longer the basis of most shaming). Others claim there is "nothing new" here. Possibly, if you are more au courant than I am, but for oblivious me it was an eye opener.

I do think that he downplays the issue of the behavior of crowds. The fact that Le Bon, the originator of the idea, was a racist twit and thought, apparently, that an actual virus was a cause, isn't really relevant. As a metaphor, viral is obviously a metaphor for the process, whether it be adoration of cute cats or vicious attacks on individuals. We need as a society to address this: perhaps #stopthehate?

John Oliver recently had a segment on troll attacks on women for simply speaking their minds, (and on revenge porn) and highlights the inability of our legal system to do anything about it. Legislation is being considered. That's the way ya' do it, guys. We have at least a theoretical process (shame, Congress!!) for society to decide what acts are despicable enough for criminal or civil remedy.

This is a wake-up book for anyone with any sense of either self respect or respect for others.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jackie hartzog
While the internet has made it possible for the average person to embarrass big companies into paying attention to our complaints (posting a video of the guitar the airline wrecked and won't pay for, writing a review telling of racist service at a diner), it's also made it all too easy to direct our outrage at individuals. Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed examines the phenomenon.

Ronson looks at some people who've been publicly shamed online, what sparked the attacks, the repercussions, how they dealt with it. He also puts the phenomenon in historical context, reviewing the shaming of society's transgressors in Colonial times and comparing it with modern shaming.

Several of the victims of online public shaming that Ronson profiles here were guilty only of making a stupid comment or posting a silly photo online. The responses were immediate and merciless. Like crazed anonymous mobs, people attacked the unsuspecting victims with outraged and often vile comments. It was brutal and usually led to the victims being fired from their jobs.

Sometimes the victim brings it on himself, as with Jonah Lehrer, a writer who published a couple of books in the Malcolm Gladwell tradition, semi-science-y books that were very popular. But then a journalist realized Lehrer was making up some quotations, and had written some things that couldn't be verified. It seems as if Lehrer didn't start out to be deceitful, but he got quite careless and didn't get caught. Until he did get caught. It's a bit more difficult to say he didn't deserve to lose his reputation, although the level of twitter abuse he had to endure was certainly not warranted.

Ronson investigates what may be a growing business, that of cleaning one's online profile. For hundreds of thousands of dollars, a shaming victim can hire a specialist who will create websites, facebook pages, etc., so that a person googling your name will not see the evidence of your shaming, at least not in the first page or two of results. The bad news is that it doesn't really work. Ronson set up a victim with a web-scrubber specialist who agreed to take on the client as a test case for the book. After a few months, the client's search results had gone from wall-to-wall shame to a benign internet presence. After reading the book, I googled the subject's name and although it was not wall-to-wall shame, the embarrassing photo had returned to the first page of results.

The book leaves you more aware of the effects your online comments can have on others, but there are no real solutions to the problem. It may be that we are still trying to figure this whole internet thing out and having some pretty severe learning spasms in the process.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hayley mccarron
I feel sorry for a lot of the shamed..... lives destroyed, jobs lost, sometimes year-long depressions. But not always. There was the story of the woman who went to Arlington Cemetery, saw a sign that read "Show respect", and then took a picture of herself giving the middle finger to the dead teenagers/young men lying there. She was shamed, and no I don't feel sorry for her. She's still alive saying "screw off" with her photos, while those under the ground had their lives cut short.

And then another woman at a convention overheard a Programmer (key word) say "I would fork his repository"

This is a tech idiom meaning "Make modifications to his software". The woman misunderstood this to be a sexual joke, so she shamed the programmer to her 122,000 twitter & facebook followers saying she was offended. Problem: She had several "male phallus" jokes on her twitter/facebook so clearly she didn't find the joke offensive (else she wouldn't be sharing similar jokes). TWO: She got the programmer fired for what was, basically, a misunderstanding. THREE: She still thinks she did nothing wrong.

I don't feel any empathy for her either. She deserved the shaming she eventually received.

As for the rest of the "shamed people" I think the author did a good job with his interviews, and covering their side of the story. Many of these people literally had their lives destroyed, and still have not recovered years later. It demonstrates the danger of the internet, where a poorly-worded post ("Going to Africa. Hope I don't get aids. Just kidding. I'm white.") can lead to millions of people hating you, sending you death threats, stalking you years later, and so on
.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
katia m davis
There is no question the people portrayed in this book received far more vitriol and condemnation than they deserved. But, they did behave/speak in racist, sexist, or totally inappropriate ways. To say they are only guilty of having a warped sense of humor, and that condones their behaviors, is an insult to those of us who choose to not to be racist and sexist, and strive to treat others with respect. Interesting that the author does not defend the writers who were "publicly shamed".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rita dewitt
Ronson's book--using interviews and research--analyzes "our escalating war on flaws" through online shaming. I think these two quotes capture the essence of the book:

"With social media, we've created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It's all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people.... A shaming can be like a distorting mirror at a funfair, taking human nature and making it look monstrous."

"When shamings are delivered like remotely administered drone strikes, nobody needs to think about how ferocious our collective power might be. The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche."

I read quite a bit of nonfiction, and I found this book to be intelligent, responsible, and very humane. It has proved to be one of my favorite books this year.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laynerussell
I have never read any of Jon Ronsons other books but I am apt to look them up after writing this wildly entertaining book. It made you laugh, angry and dumbfounded-sometimes all at the same time. There are so many cases of shamed people whose life's have been destroyed by public opinion and sometimes they did not do very much or anything to be "shamed". I always think of James Carville during the Clinton sexual scandals in the 1990's (and there were many) when he said about the one lady (was it Jennifer Flowers-there were so many it was hard to keep track) who accused Clinton of sexual harassment as you put a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and that is what comes up with. Of course she was telling the truth and Clinton was the liar but she is the one who got "shamed". Very fast and entertaining read that only took two days to read because the entertainment value kept you wanting more. Fascinating subject.

Never read a book quite like this one and I am glad I did. Give it a try!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lyn polk
In 1929, Thomas Wolfe published his novel Look Homeward, Angel. Everyone in his home town rushed to read it--and quickly spotted themselves in it. Portrayed in not always flattering ways. There was an uproar, a flood of hate mail and death threats, but Wolfe survived to go on writing. Would that be the case had it happened in the YouTube/Twitter age?

It occurred to me as I finished Ronson's book, that it was time for someone to bring our attention to this enormous, and alarming, change in our society. I don't think the inventors of the Net had in mind. As the possibilities for worldwide interaction rise, so do the possibilities of wrecking lives for a single thoughtless quip, or simply--as happened to Ronson--catching the attention of malevolent spambotters.

The plot thickens as Ronson introduces us to entrepreneurs who specialize in "erasing" your misstep from Internet searches. And relates the unbelievable story of Jonah Lehrer, whose falsehood was exposed by a sheer dumb-luck coincidence (What were the odds of this happening?). I see that honesty is still the best policy.

The audiobook held my attention throughout, was frequently saddening, always entertaining, made me wonder just how thin-skinned we've become and when did this chip appear on our shoulders? It also made me feel vindicated that I mostly keep social media at arm's length. I'm not on Facebook, hardly use Twitter, and rarely comment on YouTube.

I'm Polish, but you can be sure that if I see a thoughtless Polish joke online...I'll just ignore it. If someone's life is going to wrecked just for a statement he made, let me have no part of it.

Thank you, Mr. Ronson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brittany austin
I recall reading The Scarlet Letter in high school. It made me think about the social mores of the time that had Hester Prynne shouldering all the puritanical blame ignorantly meted out by her affair with a man of the cloth. I supposed her shaming was to go on for as long as she breathed. That red letter pinned to her chest was harsh but there was no internet in which to torture herself when she was alone in her house. At least, when she was alone she could get a break.
Today’s internet-style shaming is a cruel mutation more on a par with Cersei’s shame walk on Game of Thrones. The crowd mentality was whipped into a frenzy that morphed into something else entirely. Human forms appeared in front of her that were no more human than the animals they had become. No one could step in to offer assistance. There was nowhere to hide and even one’s home could not provide a wholly safe haven.
Our intolerance and cowardly attacks on those who dare misstep in any way have become more vicious and rabid than ever. There is no such thing anymore as a stupid, ill-conceived joke or the privacy in which to voice it. You are not permitted a mistake of any degree or the ability to apologize for lesson learned. No amount of community service will let you off the hook.
The shamings described in Ronson’s book take place on the internet and run the gamut from plagiarism to fudging factual history to flipping off a sacred veteran memorial. They are treated with a firing squad like mow-down designed to decimate. It spills over into their everyday connections with the people who know them until every line is blurred. It is an endless game of cat and mouse with no role reversal allowed. After it all dies down, it can start up again at any time because nothing is ever gone on the internet and bored people love to stir up s***. Search engine algorithm breaches are designed to mitigate the damage done and this becomes an expensive endeavor with no real guarantee of working.
What is the antidote then to shame and the ability to become shamed by complete strangers? The inability to feel shame makes someone a sociopath, does it not? Ronson seeks to answer the question but openly comes up short. There doesn’t seem to be an answer outside of someone just not caring at all and how often is that the case.
Fascinating if a bit haphazard in its organization Ronson has definitely hit upon a crucial conversation. I would love to see a follow-up that is more focused in its approach and with Dr. Brene Brown’s research on shame featured prominently.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jacob earl
As other reviewers have pointed out, this book has an interesting intro that pulls you in. However, Ronson quickly develops an affinity for uninteresting, irrelevant stories that make you think "is he ever actually going to address the promised topic?"

Unfortunately the answer is no. I feel pretty misled by the title. If you really feel compelled to read this, at least don't buy it at full price.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chronomorphosis
My five year old daughter likes to imitate my exuberant sister Jenny and stomp her foot while saying, "That's it, I've had it, I'm going to tell." Thank God there was no social media in the 80's and I get to pass these tales of our slightly crazy family down the old fashioned way. Ronson hits another home run with this cautionary tale for the digital age. I am sure the Stasi would have loved the internet and social media where people willingly announce every thought, feeling and action to the general public. People's lives and careers have been ruined from ill timed tweets and poorly delivered Facebook posts. I will definitely attempt to make my digital footprint just a little smaller and my life a tiny less transparent with less dank memes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
colin winnette
This mediation on public shaming by Jon Ronson is enjoyable, easy-to-read, thought-provoking and somewhat rambling in style. Ronson looks into questions such as these: What happens to an author after he is caught making up quotes in his new book and ridiculed online when he tries to apologize publicly? What happens to a person who gets over a million critical comments on her thoughtlessly inappropriate tweet on her twitter account and she is fired from her job as well? What happens to the woman who posts a silly picture of herself on facebook that ends up offending a large number of people in and out of the military and she is fired from her job over it?

What causes people to pile on in a rush to criticize others for their mistakes or apparently cruel, sexist or racist comments? Ronson interviews a variety of people who have done things that caused them to be publicly shamed and he investigates what happens to them. Where does the collective outrage come from and what happens to people who transgressed in the aftermath? He quotes from books and authorities and travels to talk with people to try to understand how the shaming process effects different people differently.

Jon Ronson has an easy style of writing that pulls you in and makes you want to follow him as he weaves his rambling investigation in the apparent revival of public shaming of individuals and businesses. It is a pleasure to find a writer who explores an interesting topic and takes you along for the ride in an enjoyable manner. Makes you stop and think about the topic. Makes you want to read another book by Jon Ronson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
liz reed
Perhaps some people should continue to confine their vitriolic monologues to their heads, but most people when they slip up they do so for innocent reasons. Cases in point Justine Sacco and her tasteless joke and Lindsey Stone and her thoughtless photo. Not crimes or pernicious by intent; yet these women each paid terrible psychological and financial prices for their flippant behavior. Who punished them? A modern mob of faceless internet posters. These women's fates would make anybody who cares a bit about their reputations and their livelihoods think twice about saying anything someone in a dark room might construe as offensive.

Ronson's focused, for the most part, on the act of shaming, how it damages those shamed, and how to recover from an incident. He also shows there's nothing new about public shaming; that public humiliation as a form of punishment reaches back to American colonial times. Of course now people can be shamed before the entire world to the point where they might never escape the consequences. He tosses around research during his excursion through the modern world of shaming, as well as possible remedies.

The real shame here is that a book like this is necessary. But it is, at least to raise your own personal awareness. Particularly recommended for those under the notion the internet is a playground free of bullies.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dani burhop
Social media allows and promotes shaming for a number of the social and psychological reasons Ronson explores, but what spoke to me most was a linguistic point that kind of sort of got slipped in multiple times though, if memory serves right, was never explicitly discussed at length (I remember the stories more than the other stuff). What I'm referring to has to do with how we pull meaning from statements. This is a natural phenomenon separate from social and psychological considerations.

Someone says something or writes something and we understand something. How we do that is complex though, and relies heavily on context. You can't say, "This is good" or even "This is a good book" without the context to understand what "this" is or "book" or even "good" means. We rely on our audience and the context to make that clear, some of which involves very subtle shifts in vocal tone, eye movement, body posture, and the past history of utterances and behaviors of the individual making the utterance. We don't have that with a tweet, but we still have to ascribe meaning to the utterance, so, really, we're bound to do it poorly. Understanding statements on Twitter made from someone you don't know without so much in the way of context is like hearing a robot voice from the next room say, "This is good." It can't be done at a fundamental linguistic level.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
leonard pierce
"Shame hath a bastard fame, well managed;
Ill deeds is doubled with an evil word."
W. Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors: 3.2.19-20

Jon Ronson examines and rouses alarm at the ferocious nature of the frequent Internet (mainly Twitter) public shamings, of a few unfortunate speech violators who had a joke come out badly or made a stupid mistake for laughs and the real-life aftermath of the flaming shamings for the targets (e.g., losing not only her job, but her livelihood). Ronson nicely juxtaposed these studies against an instance in which a hyper-sensitive instigator had the weight of the scorn pierce back through her as quickly as a scorpion.

"We are defining boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside of it." J. Ronson, Shamed.

SO YOU'VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED is an informal sociological study, really, of situations in which the Mob Rules and the speech police patrol the Net for the next villainous offender of any sensibilities, real or imagined.

Ronson first looked at Jonah Lehrer, who wrote a bestseller on creativity in which he created quotes that were never made by Bob Dylan. Ronson talks then to the guy who discovered Lehrer's (the author's) Greatest Sin (dishonesty).

He then reviewed the case of Justine Sacco who made a stupid joke before the final leg of her trip to South Africa that she hoped she didn't get AIDS but "I'm white!" she tweeted, 11 hours after which she landed to find out twitter had exploded into making her the momentary "#1 worldwide trend." She lost her job and pretty much everything else.

There's also the case of Lindsey Stone who posted a pic of herself in front of a veteran's monument flipping the bird and making a face; also lost her job and fears the results of Google searches. The latter of which Ronson also speaks with an outfit that guarantees fixing your negative google results.

The most interesting story to me was that of the overly sensitive Adria Richards who took an iphone pic of two guys at a nerdy computer conference who were making like the imbecilic Beavis and Butthead joking about the computer terms "dongles" and "forking." She immediately ran home to call these guys out in hopes they'd get fired. What happened next was unbelievable and eerie. The net and its collective darklords unleashed wave after wave of scorn upon her. The two guys were fired, but ended up getting better jobs as a result. Richards, on the other hand, also lost her job and, as of the time JR interviewed her, hadn't been able to land fully back on her feet.

"...with social media, we've created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It's all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people." J. Ronson, Shamed.

Ronson covered a few more case studies, but I won't overly expand this review. For those who don't know him, Ronson's a Welsh muckraker, a sort of Gonzo journalist who actively participates and becomes a part of the story he's covering like tales of extremists and psychopaths. He has an enjoyable, personable writing style, always focusing on intriguing and timely topics.

He's set off the siren for me on the dangerous path we're going in this great nation, a country that was founded, in part, on the principle that the freedom of speech is invaluable and the right thereto inviolable:

"We're creating a culture where people feel constantly surveilled, where people are afraid to be themselves." J. Ronson, Shamed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
katie davis
I actually liked Ronson's "You've Been Publicly Shamed" which goes through the narratives of those who have fallen from public grace, and how shame can be used as a mechanism to ensure social mores. My favorite part of the book involved Jonah Lehrer, author of "Imagine" who was what I considered a great writer, before his fall from grace after he faked the Dylan quotes. Ronson tells both sides, including Michael C. Moynihan's (the man who uncovered Lehrer's side). The public shame from being outed as faking the Dylan quotes ruined Lehrer's career. At first, I felt sorry for him for being humiliated in that way. Who wouldn't. At the same time, I was a disappointed. Although Lehrer said he was sorry, he still twisted his own inner narrative in a way that absolved himself of responsibility. We all do it, I guess..but I was disappointed with that. I still like Lehrer, but I agreed with Ronson's belief that the only way someone can be absolved of committing a wrong is to take responsibility and be honest, since most Americans are forgiving. Moynihan believes that Lehrer has/had sinister intentions, but I just think he was upset he got caught.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and was grateful for the behind the scenes interview with both men.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah eisenstein
The above sentence has to be one of the most perfect cappers to a longer narrative, fiction or non-, that I've ever read. I hope that's not considered a "spoiler" for this book. (And if it is, here's another: Darth is Luke's FATHER.) In any case, I immediately had to Google and Yahoo search and Dogpile the sentence to see if the author wrote it himself or possibly cribbed it from someone else as a hook for his sequel book on this subject. He didn't, but this is a highly personal work and one that tears down the fourth wall - to use a theatrical metaphor - between investigative journalist and reader. By that standard, the author himself becomes fair game.

It's humorous to me that so many readers are disappointed that more of Ronson's accounts aren't of well-known politicians or celebrities, the sort that rise to "Enquirer" or "TMZ" noteworthiness. Instead, the author starts literally in his own back yard with a tale of a journalist's fall from grace, from there moving organically out into the wider world as shame or the lack thereof is examined, interspersed with considerable personal involvement and reflections. It would come across as egotistical and tedious but for the author's considerable charm in the telling, making more traditional, invisible-narrator accounts look obstructive and artificial by comparison. The subtext of this book, after all, is the online world's collective judgment and expectations, which aren't met by traditional forms of journalism. Even Malcolm Gladwell, for whom the author apparently has some significant regard, isn't spared a certain amount of evisceration for his comparatively glib, old school/commercial, carefully packaged collections of facts, history and theory. What's to be found here...is messier. Meandering. And very much of our interactive era. (Do we have to deconstruct everything these days? It's almost like a tic.)

I'm not getting heavy into the details here beyond divulging The Last Sentence of the Book, because spoilers. You already know how celebs react to shaming. (Sobbing all the way to the bank.) It's different for some self-described "shlub" who finds his or her life and livelihood reduced to rubble in a moment, thanks to one ill-conceived action together with the brutal efficiency of social media. If you've ever participated in the shaming of a celebrity or a corporation on Facebook or Twitter, satisfied that you were acting on the side of the angels, this book just might challenge your beliefs, even needle your conscience.

Or not. Some people just can't be shamed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
neelz
Interesting and thought provoking, Ronson takes us through the history of social shaming. The internet has become judge and jury to the unfortunate few who have dared to trod outside the lines of social mores. No one is safe and we all partake of the "judgment" buffet. It's made me afraid of expressing my true feelings in any form other than likes and a comment here or there on Facebook and Twitter. Gone are the days of free expression without instant repercussion. I was drawn to this post after a tweet I wrote in favor of an article I had read about the evolution of the word "feminism" and how different generations are interpreting its meaning. I thought the article was really well done and shared it on Twitter. Not one minute later a complete stranger reposted my tweet to a men's rights group whose rhetoric proposing violence against women was truly disturbing to me. It took one minute and I'm just a normal person tweeting. No affiliations, no renown of any kind. I watched it in real time and deleted the tweet as quickly as I could in fear that someone from the men's rights group would reply. Paranoid much? You bet. We've all seen the repercussions of an innocent tweet gone array and I was not anxious to get into a shouting match online. Who needs that kind of stress? Just the other day a woman was bombarded on Twitter for commenting on a campaign sticker for Hillary Clinton. The woman tweeted that she liked the sticker idea- that was it. Simply that she liked it and clicking on the tweet itself I saw, not unsurprisingly, that another user had within minutes replied to her tweet and lambasted her for supporting Clinton. The woman engaged with the other user for a few replies but then asked to be left alone. She had done nothing wrong, she only said she liked the sticker. Big deal right? Well, the other user continued to reply, the messages getting nastier and ended with a disturbing comment I won't repeat here. The tweets did not go viral (this type of thing happens all the time) and I'm probably one of the few who read the whole exchange but it prompted me to recognize within myself a fear of being judged. I have been subconsciously tailoring my tweets and facebook posts for years now. I realized I was afraid of making a mistake, causing unintentional offense with a joke or a comment that could result in negative feedback from strangers online and that is just what Jon Ronson chronicles in "So You've Been Publicly Shamed." He interviews those who the internet judged unworthy and shows the other side of shame, what happens to the people who have been publicly ridiculed on social media and how we can learn to look past the sneering comments that condemned them and see the world from their perspective. The author obviously did his research and the book is well worth a read. I do wish Ronson had tackled some more high profile cases though, Monica Lewinsky comes to mind. I hope he does a follow up book to check back on those he interviewed to see if they were able to get their lives back together and to revisit this subject in a few years. Alternatively, it would be interesting to read about the perceptive of those online who feel compelled to judge and troll other people's accounts as sport. Ronson briefly touches on this subject in the book but I think there's a larger issue there worth looking into.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
esin
It used to be that our justice system included as punishment a public shaming of miscreants. Seeing naughty persons led to the gallows and dropped was a public entertainment. We might tar and feather someone who had the wrong political views or make adulterers wear a scarlet letter. We used to whip such people publicly, or put them into the pillory so that their fellow citizens might express communal censure. We do not mete out official justice in these manners anymore, and the reason we do not is alarming. In _So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed_ (Riverhead Books), Jon Ronson finds that in America where public punishments were abandoned in 1839, the abandonment was not, as is the usual explanation, because in the nineteenth century people were shifting from villages to cities, cities in which those shamed could enter anonymity within the crowds after the punishment was done. It was not because shaming had been ineffective. Ronson found documentation that showed that judges would continue, say, to condemn criminals to whippings, but would not condone whipping in public. Shaming was simply too brutal, and it was legislated away, never to be used as part of the legal system again. But the purpose of Ronson’s entertaining and distressing book is to show that public shaming is back.

Public shaming is now not done by the legal system, but in a more ideally democratic way courtesy of that great leveler, the internet. Social media, particularly Twitter, have turned out to be reputation-smashing machines of enormous power. Sometimes such shaming has been merited, and sometimes it is more-or-less random. One case in Ronson’s book that of Lindsey Stone, a woman who had a good career of caring for adults with learning difficulties. She had a theme on her Facebook page; she and a friend would take stupid or tasteless photos of themselves mocking what was in the background. She would smoke in front of a “No Smoking” sign, for instance, or mimic the pose of a venerable statue. When they went to Arlington Cemetery, Stone got her picture taken in front of a sign that urged “Silence and Respect,” and she was depicted giving a middle finger salute and cupping her mouth as if she were yelling. She admittedly had little understanding of Facebook privacy settings, but soon people were sending her photo around the world, along with obscene wishes that she would be raped and murdered. She lost her job and fell into a depression, and didn’t leave her house for months. It is interesting that Ronson’s interviews with her led him to hook her up as a pro bono case with a firm that specializes in rehabilitating virtual images. The whole purpose is to get other stuff online, like Stone’s love of cats and pop music, and try to anticipate Google’s algorithms so that those other interests, not the photo or the furor, show up on the first page of Google results. The web strategist explains that this is because the first page determines what people are going to think of you. “As a writer and journalist,” writes Ronson, “as well as a father and human being - this struck me as a really horrifying way of knowing the world.”

The service to rehabilitate a previously shamed online presence is expensive, and will not be available to all who need it. Ronson says that the “great renaissance of public shaming” has turned into a gleeful witch-hunt, with a mob piling on with happy malevolence and sadism. Around the cases of the shamed people he has interviewed, he weaves in historical and psychological research. Ronson admits that he had himself taken part in public shamings, but vows he never will again. Don’t blame the internet; people have acted this way forever. They merely have new e-means of shaming, and it is a powerful means indeed. Ronson has again written a provocative book of intelligence and good humor, but in his stories of rampant vigilantism, he once again illuminates a darker side of human nature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kristy behrs
If you've seen Jon Ronson's 2015 Ted Talk on online shaming, you've already gotten the gist and most of the highlights of So You've Been Publicly Shamed. Ronson, after inadvertently setting off the online shaming of the creators of a spambot which had been imitating him on Twitter, becomes fascinated with the way society has transitioned to using a virtual pillory to punish perceived transgressors and begins investigating recent (in)famous shamings: Jonah Lehrer, Justine Sacco, Adria Richards. His interviews with the victims of these shamings - and sometimes with the people who triggered them - are like watching behind the scenes footage of a trainwreck, horrifying and impossible to look away from. As his exploration continues, Ronson finds himself more and more mortified by his own past participation in online shamings, and explores the some of the possible psychology behind what drives us to it and the technological lengths one must go to in order to erase the evidence of an online shaming and move on with life.

Ronson frames his narrative as a sort of personal journey that seems a bit facile - is anyone who's used the internet for more than five minutes in the last twenty years really surprised by acts of trollish vitriol? - but that doesn't detract from the tragedy of the stories he's telling, or from the the conclusion that perhaps the real shame lies with all of us for being so quick to pass judgment in 140 characters or less.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sally
There are some parts of this book that really stand out. The author clearly put a lot of work into finding cases studies and constructing stories of many cases of public shaming. And they're all very interesting stories!

There are a couple things the book misses:

- The author repeatedly states that public persecution ended in the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s. This is a very White Person's version of history and completely disregards the all-too-common practice of lynchings that took place in the United States for almost an additional century.

- Of course, this book brought up Adria Richards and "Donglegate". How could a book about social media and public attacks not? But it's almost as if it was only included out of obligation. The author never made it clear who he thought was the victim in this story--the men in Adria Richards' photo, or Adria Richards herself. He also makes no attempt to "differentiate public" shaming from "violent and sadistic threats".

Overall, I found the book interesting. But I wish the author had tossed in a bit more nuance. There was some organic nuance in his interview style of "she said" and "I responded" but I never got the feeling that the author had any really overarching point in writing about these case studies.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tolani
This is a fun, entertaining, serious and interesting read. Jon Ronson does a good job of deeply diving into an issue that is becoming more and more important in our world. The act of publicly shaming people is actually an accent one, used throughout history all over the world. The way it is used today is very different though, and Ronson explains this complicated behavior very well. What seems like something that is rather simple (people teaming up against someone in an act of revenge or punishment) is actually much more than that. Reading this book opened my eyes to a few areas of this issue that I was completely unaware of. It also made me see aspects of shaming differently than I previous had.
All in all, this is a great book that is fun to read. I found myself looking forward to reading it and couldn't put it down when I had time to read. The stories in this book are explained well and, in my opinion, fairly. Ronson is not an unbiased writer though, and I think you get a good idea of this in the book, so it doesn't take away from the book overall. I would recommend reading this even if you think you wouldn't be interested in the modern/tech aspect of this issue.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
asli espin
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself! What you did was shameful! I am ashamed of you. You have shamed the entire family!"

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" - never has a more false proverb been more convincingly uttered. The power of words has been underestimated; severely, grossly, terribly, massively underestimated. If you don't believe me, ask James Gilligan, described as "about the world's best chronicler of what a shaming can do to our inner lives." In the 1970s, he was a "young psychiatrist at the Harvard Medical School", and was "invited to lead" a group of a "team of investigative psychiatrists" ordered by a US District Court judge to "make sense of the chaos" that were Massachusetts prisons and mental hospitals. What was the scene like?

"Inmates were swallowing razor blades and blinding and castrating themselves and each other. ... Prisoners were getting killed, officers were getting killed, visitors were getting killed."

Such were the inmates that James Gilligan worked with and interviewed. What did he observe and what were his findings?
"Gilligan filled notepads with observations from his interviews with the men.
He wrote, ‘Some have told me that they feel like robots or zombies, that their bodies are empty or filled with straw, not flesh and blood, that instead of having veins and nerves they have ropes or cords. One inmate told me he feels like “food that is decomposing”. These men’s souls did not just die. They have dead souls because their souls were murdered. How did it happen? How were they murdered?’ This was, he felt, the mystery he’d been invited inside Massachusetts’ prisons and mental hospitals to solve. And one day it hit him. ‘Universal among the violent criminals was the fact that they were keeping a secret,’ Gilligan wrote. ‘A central secret. And that secret was that they felt ashamed - deeply ashamed, chronically ashamed, acutely ashamed.’ It was shame, every time. ‘I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed or humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed. As children these men were shot, axed, scalded, beaten, strangled, tortured, drugged, starved, suffocated, set on fire, thrown out of the window, raped, or prostituted by mothers who were their pimps. For others words alone shamed and rejected, insulted and humiliated, dishonoured and disgraced, tore down their self-esteem, and murdered their soul.’ For each of them the shaming ‘occurred on a scale so extreme, so bizarre, and so frequent that one cannot fail to see that the men who occupy the extreme end of the continuum of violent behaviour in adulthood occupied an equally extreme end of the continuum of violent child abuse earlier in life.’" [pg 235, paperback]

Is it any wonder that shaming is such a powerful weapon in the hands of the individual and the mob alike? Is it any wonder also that shaming has become so endemic in the world of the tubes - the Internet? Shaming is, in a lot of was, an act of assault and robbery. It robs the victim of something he had held private, and makes it public. This loss of a private memory, experience, can be dehumanizing at times. This is what makes it so attractive and irresistible as a weapon in the hands of the individual or the mob, and what arouses the most violent of passions and feelings of retribution in the victim. Jon Ronson's book, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed", is in his inimitable style, a quick, breezy look at some recent public shamings and an attempt to understand the why.

Remember Jonah Lehrer, the once-bestselling author of pop-science books and a Malcolm Gladwell in the making (in whatever way you choose to see Gladwell notwithstanding)? He was exposed as a serial plagiarizer and then saw his attempt at a public apology go up in smoke in front of his eyes, in real-time - you see, the organizers, Knight Frank, had helpfully arranged for one "giant-screen live Twitter feed behind his head" and a "second screen .. positioned within his eyeline" even as he read his prepared speech-apology.

Lehrer's case is at least understandable. Justine Sacco's case was less of a public shaming - though that it certainly also was - as much as a cyber-lynching. In case you are looking for a tale to complete the circle here, then the case of "Hank" and Adria Richards is the one for you. A public shaming via Twitter was followed by an even more vicious retributive cyber-lynching orchestrated by and on 4chan. The author's conversation with "twenty-one-year-old 4chan denizen, Mercedes Haefer" sheds light, though not a whole lot though, on the psychology of shaming. Throw in your prejudices, pre-conceived notions, stereotypes, then add in a dash of the spice of technology, and you get the perfect recipe for shamings in the modern era:
"She paused. ‘But 4chan aims to degrade the target, right? And one of the highest degradations for women in our culture is r*pe. We don’t talk about r*pe of men, so I think it doesn’t occur to most people as a male degradation. With men they talk about getting them fired. In our society men are supposed to be employed."
Shaming is a form of control, an assertion of power over the victim, a no-hods barred degradation of the victim - where physical violence is not possible or not practical.

Reading through the book, I felt it hit a high somewhere around the chapter on 4chan and the lynching-counter-lynching episodes. But it seemed to drift for a chapter or two after that. Reading chapter 9 I started to think, "Is this going someplace?" Perhaps there was a glimmer of light I could see, but where would it lead to? Perhaps it is the inevitable moment of reader-fatigue that one experiences when reading a book where the urge to abandon a book seems to exert an inexorable pull. "But this is a short book. I can finish this. Onward!" I said to myself. And turned the page. The book did pick up. The chapters got shorter, or at least it seemed that way. This however is not a book on cyber-bullying. Emily Bazelon wrote a book on that topic. This is not even a book on how the Internet enables cyber-bullying. Nor is it about hate crimes in cyberwar- there is an eponymous book on that by Danielle Keats Citron.

What "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" is, at the end of the day, a short, breezy look at a few aspects of shaming, with a little bit of history, a dash of personal anecdotes, some curative as well as palliative ruminations, and the trademark (surely by now) Jon Ronson wry humour. Does this book provide any hope, any solution to the malaise of this relentless form of mob frenzy of shaming? Yes, and no.

The weirdest line I can recall reading in a book - actually "incongruous" is a better phrase than "weirdest" - would be this: "Porn professionals were being so nice and considerate towards me it was almost as if I was the person about to have their g**itals electrocuted." I suppose one could call this one of the occasional perks of being a writer, eh Mr Ronson?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kojo
For millennia, man has put his foot in his mouth. Twitter didn't invent the inappropriate joke and employees have ranted about their bosses long before Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook.

Nearly two centuries ago, public shaming (at least in the way of physical punishment) went the way of the Dodo. That's not to say that one's ill-advised private remarks wouldn't occasionally find much larger audiences and bite one in the ass. They would. Networks like TMZ and E! are relatively new advents, but they don't represent fundamentally new trends. The press have long covered salacious and newsworthy events related to existing celebrities, athletes, politicians, and their ilk. However, a poorly-worded wisecrack probably wouldn't get Joan Q. Public fired from her job and mar her public reputation for the rest of life.

Of course, this is changing. Such is the premise behind the new book from Jon Ronson, So You've Been Publicly Shamed. As the recent cases of Lindsay Stone, Justine Sacco, "Dongle Joke" Guy, and others manifest, public shaming is back in a big way, although not the physical kind. And we had better pay attention. After all, a failed attempt at humor might result in our receiving thousands of death threats.

Thanks to social media, Google's excellent memory, the Internet, and smartphones, lapses in judgment and overshares from anonymous folks can quickly unleash the power and vitriol of social-media mobs. Today, technology and new cultural mores have removed much of the friction associated with saying or doing something stupid, ethically questionable, or downright offensive. Tweet whatever you like, but understand that there may be consequences. Dire ones.

I've enjoyed a few of Ronson's other texts, but his latest struck a particular nerve with me. I've long been fascinated with how the lines between work and leisure have blurred over the last decade or so.

His is no anti-technology screed. With a introspective and often funny lens, he tracks down those whose blunders have exploded in the public eye. Ronson finds the humanity in oft-criticized examples of what not to do without letting them off the hook. His interview with admitted plagiarist Jonah Lehrer is particularly insightful.

Ronson doesn't take the high road. He cops to mistakes of his own. Nor is he afraid to question the veracity of his interviewers' claims. So You've Been Publicly Shamed is insightful, well-researched, and important text about how we react to others' poor decisions. Our reactions don't just say something about them. They say something about us.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nancy schroeder
I want to give a low score to this book because it put me in such a foul mood, but can't bring myself to do so. Truth is, I work on social media and have witnessed several of the events discussed by Ronson as just one of the faces in the digital crowd. We're one of the first generations that graduated from college with a social science degree and we have done a terrible job at justifying our obscene levels of education by waging wars about everything and nothing and ganging up on scapegoats in the name of integrity.

I hate to be that guy bringing up Judeo-Christian value again, but if SO YOU'VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED made me realize one thing, it's that we're doomed if we let ideas win over human beings. If you decide to shame someone on the internet, whether it's Kanye West or a defenseless person, you're part of the problem. It doesn't matter if you're right or not, because pointing fingers and criticizing will only lead to more pointing fingers and criticizing and that nothing is every going to change if you don't take interest in people.

Terrible, a little padded, yet unfortunately necessary.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
philissa
This is an exceptional narrative on the effects of shaming. Ronson gives real life examples of public shaming through stories of real people who have made seemingly trivial mistakes. Before the internet and social media, these very mistakes should have been minor. Now, with the advent of social media and a virtual connection to millions, each small insignificant nugget turns into the whole galaxy.

How have we turned so negative? Why are we so mean to each other? What is the purpose? What are we proving by calling each other out in the most disgustingly vile ways, and mostly anonymously? Ronson explores these very questions in So You've Been Publicly Shamed. And he makes us ponder what gross, uncivilized human beings we have become. We should be using social media to share information with each other. But it has turned us against each other.

Ronson makes us think of how we would feel and react if we were these publicly shamed individuals. If he could somehow market this book to teens, would it make growing up during that ruthless period better or worse? To see the results of public shaming, thereby creating empathy, would that make each and every one of us think twice about posting that joke?

Ronson leaves the book with some possible reasons why we are so vile to each other and why we pile onto others’ bad circumstances. One reason, according to one of Ronson’s sources, could be “… a person’s attempt to replace shame with self-esteem.” This seems like an accurate explanation. Someone lacking in self-esteem feels ashamed of something in their lives which gives them the ammunition to tear the other person apart.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed reads like a stimulating conversation with an old friend. His writing style is easy and inspiring albeit with an awkward subject.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amanda stoddard rowan
Jon Ronson (not Ron Jonson) has a gift for journalistic narrative--and the amount of work he puts into his stories is astounding. He is a true journalist in a time when being a real journalist does not seem to pay. The amount of traveling he does to interview people who have been publicly shamed, tracking leads, calling, emailing, setting up interviews, is to be commended, and how he weaves all this into a story about how shaming functions in our society is seamless.

Ronson does a great job evaluating why it is we shame, whether or not its useful, and most interesting of all he humanizes the figures at the center of public shaming controversies. Showing that these people are suffering at the hands of shaming, at the horrible things levied at them, the jobs lost, and in fact, showing that often a lot of these people are unable to get second chances in life (the internet does not forget), allows us to evaluate the use of shaming. Will Justine Sacco make inappropriate twitter jokes ever again? Probably not. But I wonder if destroying the life she had was the only way to accomplish that, and celebrating the demise of her professional life as Ronson walks us through her specific fiasco is gut wrenching. More often than not women seemed to end up worse off than men, and the cruelty of the shaming rarely felt proportionate to the perceived sin.

Ronson is an excellent writer, and he is not preachy. He often remains objective, but if he decides to point out bad behavior he points out that he was often leading the public shaming charge before writing this book. His writing is often funny too, and I never put the book down feeling bad about things.

I recommend this book to everyone. Anyone who has taken part in public shaming, anyone who uses social media. This world is a risky, dangerous place where seemingly small things can change your life forever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dyah wijayanti
After reading this book, I am pretty certain I will not publicly shame someone on the internet. Ronson personally interviews several people whose public shamings have led to very bad repercussions in real life. The most common situation involves a stupid tweet, and then public shaming so bad that the tweeter loses their job and can't show their face in public. Each of the interview subjects tells their story of the stupid tweet, the public backlash, the firing, and then an effort to rebuild their lives. In one case, the public shaming was so bad that the shamee killed himself

One can debate how much stupidity when into the actions of the shamees. In many cases, their words were taken out of context, and they were fired, or suffered so other form of public humiliation.

We get a writer who threw some quotes from Bob Dylan in a book he was writing. Someone researched those quotes and they were shown to be fabrications. As a writer, this man's life is completely altered because of this. Many people don't believe he ever honestly apologized for what he did.

Next, we get a racial tweet that was meant to be taken sarcastically, but it was taken literally. The writer spends 11 hours on a plane with no internet, so knows nothing about the firestorm that is there when she lands. She lost her job.

Another women went to Arlington and appeared to disrespect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She was fired.

These three stories dominate the book, but smaller anecdotal stories are told as well.

The idea is that a person will publicly shame another publicly because they think they are doing something good. Ironically, neither the shamed nor the shamer understand the consequences of their actions. Many shamers are not prepared for the potent attacks the shamed get, as a result of the shamer shaming. Even the shamer, many times, would not have shamed had he/she known the suffering of the shamed.

All of the stories are very interesting and I couldn't put the book down. It's very well-written and it's easy to read. The author makes several points that thought should precede action - before you leave that offended comment, you should first think what this could do to the shamed. Perhaps a private conversation is more in order.

Another point the author makes is that our society might not be interested in making things better, but instead, we are more interested in punishing people. I visited a facebook page listed in this book and, four years after the incident, there are people who still don't think the shamed is sorry enough yet - this shamed person has to somehow appease these shamers, but on the shamers' terms. For some, the shamed will never, ever again be given any forgiveness.

The shamer/shamed relationship is heavily explored in this book. I loved the writing, and I felt the author committed a lot of time to this project. I recommend this book to anyone who uses the internet.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
naomi
Shame seems to be a buzz word in the last few years, maybe stemming from Brene Brown's popularity? This is another perspective into the world of shame, centering around social media shamings. So often there are disclaimers on social media posts, "No judgement, please!" etc. because it is unusual at this point to see comments that don't judge or even outright insult even the most benign posts. Ronson tells the story of several people who were publicly shamed via social media, mostly Twitter, and how they dealt with the aftermath. This is a great read to better understand intellectual property and also the mindset that allows us to say things 'anonymously' on the internet that we would *never* say in a face-to-face encounter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mahmoud
This is a book whose time has definitely come. Public shaming is now, sorrowfully, the norm, whether it's actually called that or not. This book examines that phenomenon, and as I far as I know, there aren't many books, if at all, available on this topic. The author examines people who have been shamed, analyzes what contributed to the attacks, and the unfortunate domino effect that transpires. He also examines the history of "shaming" and all the other related topics that go along with this disgusting social condition. I remember the days when news was just the news (check out PBS Newshour for a refreshing break from the snide news comments which is the new normal), and reporters didn't have to add their own personal commentary to make a public tell-all of just plain facts even worse. This is an excellent book on the topic, and I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shoma narayanan
As usual, Ronson manages to deliver the news without injecting too many of his personal opinions. I really admire this about him: he can give you the facts and let you make up your own mind without tainting the copy with his own editorial version of events. Kudos, Mr. Ronson! That is a rare gift in an age where personal opinions make their way into virtually everything. Which, to come full circle here, is also one of the main points of this book. I am glad that someone as unbiased as Jon Ronson is out there pointing out the fact that the general public has a voice now. A voice that can speak rather loudly, and does not hesitate to do so on every occasion possible. One can go on the internet this very moment and find someone else's opinion about virtually anything. The power that we now wield to make or break absolutely everything is also a very dangerous power, and we need to think before mindlessly shaming someone we don't know for events that we know nothing about. Learning to reign in that power will be a long and heartbreaking road for many. It may not even be possible. Peace!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natasya dotulong
This very much left me thinking about many things. I'm also one of those people who live on the Internet so I at times found myself viewing all of these stories much like Ronson does throughout the book.

I'm not sure those who are not part of an "audiences" aka "community" on the Internet will get some of the points that this book makes - but in truth the book never spells out any points - It's more of a journey of Ronson himself looking in the mirror and trying to understand why he himself behaved in a certain way. In turn this was reflected in myself - In a way getting to the end of the book was about looking in my own mirror of sorts and then looking at the bigger picture around me.

If I'm making no sense - it again it might be - you've missed the social justice that occurs on a daily basis - hundreds of times a day both small and large... Youtube - Twitter - Facebook - Forums etc... So many trying to do the "right thing"
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carolyn jane
Jon Ronson explores the causes and effects of public shaming. In many ways it was a sad and painful book to read, seeing how some foolish comment or professional mistake can lead to ruin. It is also an important book to read. As wonderful as the internet is, the mob mentality it is capable of engendering is frightening. In a heartbeat we can lose our vocation because things we say or do might be recorded and posted online for everyone to see--to see us at our worst, to see a moment of sarcasm or a private joke gone awry, out of context, offensive but with no ill-intent behind it. That's a hard thing to stomach. Shouldn't outrage be reserved for true crimes? Crimes that involve victims, unspeakable acts? Are we living in a surveillance state where we have more to fear from those around us than we do from government agencies like the NSA? These are just a few of the questions Ronson explores. Serious stuff, but he also has an eye for the absurd and the tone is very much in line with his previous works--some moments of levity, like the opening pages recounting the Jon Ronson spambot. We are enamored with our technology but I don't know that we're aware of the changes it has wrought in our lives. This book is a must-read if you, like me, are interested in trying to make sense of the changes that are taking place around us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ann chao
Ronson interviews people who have been subject to the wrath of the anonymous 'people' that inhabit the internet. One of the more famous discussed was a well-known author. He was caught plagiarizing and re-cycling his own materials as well as creating false stories for his books. His career ended and he suffered greatly for it when he was exposed by a fellow journalist. The offending author tried to make a public apology but that made things worse and he endured a second round of mass attack on the internet. Others in the book included a woman who tweeted a sexist joke told behind her by one man to another. The woman was hounded out of job and city.

The other reviewers are correct in warning readers about posting messages online without thinking through. But the importance of Ronson's book lies in its examination of crowd behaviour, especially of the anonymous variety, and the possibility of the inherent schadenfreude in us. It is just as important for us to measure our response to things written and posted in the internet. As Ronson says in his book, 'It's not them. It's us.'
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mab300
This is a fascinating exploration of public shaming in an age of social media (and before), with some really compelling case studies. It's both serious in its intent and really entertaining. I laughed out loud at some wonderful sentences, like "It seemed appropriate that we were hiking in a desert canyon, because his punishment felt quite biblical, a public shaming followed by a casting out into the wilderness, although that analogy only went so far because biblical wildernesses tend not to be filled with extremely beautiful movie stars and models walking their dogs." Also: "For the first hundred years, as far as I could tell, all that happened in America was that various people named Nathaniel had purchased land near rivers." Ha! Read it in a matter of hours, too. I got it to do some research, but it was a real delight.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oawd
This work is a couple of years old, but it’s more relevant now than it was even two years ago. If you’ve ever thought about the consequences of a life spent on social media, read it. If you’ve ever participated in piling up on somebody because of a stupid mistake, read it. If you’ve ever voted for a “law and order” candidate, read it. If you’ve ever shared a news story just to upset people in your life who have a different political persuasion, read it.

It’s one of the first books to tackle psychology in the Information Age that’s not about sales or marketing, but how it’s affecting our mental health.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
korie brown
"You combine insecurity and ambition, and you get an inability to say no to things."

This book is an interesting look at shame.

Focusing closely on a handful of people who've experienced shame at the hands of the internet we hear about what happened in their own words. I think I was expecting something that focused more on the mob-mentality of Twitter and other sights and was a little surprised that this book doesn't have a full linear narrative that ties everything together. We get some of the history of public shaming, we get the Stanford prison experiment, we get a look at people who use shame, but the stories don't all link together clearly.

It's a good read that has some great ideas but I wasn't blown away by it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
claudio arena
Highly readable, this book examines the troubling phenomena of shaming. Convicted in the fickle public forum without the benefit of trial, the targets' punishments don't always fit the perceived crime. In a country once known for freedom of speech, it appears that the thought police have seriously curtailed anything other than politically correct prattle. The internet is not, apparently, a place for open discussion and the exchange of different ideas. The author portrays it as the home of the mean, where the unwitting post at their peril. Obviously disagreeing with the content of speech but defending the person's right to speak freely is outdated.

That is not to say that the targets highlighted are sympathetic. Indeed,if anything they seem deserving of the negative publicity and condemnation they elicited. There are journalists who plagiarize and falsify and then are astounded by the outrage their actions engender. A publicist is foolish enough to tweet offensive jokes and a teen posts a picture of her grinning while making an obscene gesture at a veterans cemetery. Then there is the woman who exposes two men for telling an offensive joke. Even though it is a private conversation that had nothing to do with her she is shocked by the repercussions when one of the men loses his job. She is confounded when she loses her job, blaming racism and sexism. It seems that there are different rules for different people.If you fall in a class that is assumed privileged you are, truth notwithstanding, deserving of the most vitriol. If you are male, sex scandals, at least those involving consenting adults, are no cause for concern. The whole phenomena has spawned lukewarm apologies by the semi penitent and massive over reactions by corporate entities concerned about the bottom line.

But while the author presents the problem he has few solutions. Of course there are services that will help restore a target's reputation by littering cyberspace with bland and inoffensive posts. The first amendment plays no part in this book and I found the hand wringing over ruining someone's life tiresome, especially when that someone knowingly falsified information for public consumption. Frankly I was bewildered by the velvet glove handling he gave a certain former NJ Governor , someone who betrayed his family, his office and his constituents and found the shame as an excuse for criminality discussion disingenuous. Thought provoking, it is an easy if somewhat superficial read. Caution should be exercised by the most casual of posters and while everyone is entitled to express an opinion, only those without fault should be casting stones.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trey
Jon Ronson never fails to grab my attention. "The Psychopath Test" was phenomenally entertaining, and informative, and made me a fan of Mr Ronson immediately. I was a bit skeptical that this book would be as gripping, but am happy to say that I couldn't put this book down, either. I started it late last night, picked it back up first thing this morning, and finished it well before lunchtime.

His descriptions of what public shaming are capable of doing to its victims is terrifying, and have given me a new appreciation of what the anonymity of the Internet can mean, and the ramifications it can have for people, and their everyday lives.

If you have enjoyed any of Mr. Ronson's previous works, I recommend this one as well. If you've never read any of his works I envy you for your upcoming discovery of a great voice, who takes a critical look at seemingly normal behaviors in our society, like shaming people online.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melissa goodyer
I'm kicking myself for not finding out about this guy a decade ago. Grabbed this one based on a couple of online reviews I saw and it definitely did not let me down. Interesting, informative, and more entertaining than it had any right to be, So You've Been Publicly Shamed takes a look at a number of different shamed individuals and tries to find the tie that binds them all together. Why does the shaming seems to stick in some cases, while it's forgotten in others? Who decides the shaming and how does it takes shape?

Ronson's writing is clear, purposeful, and uncluttered. Unlike many nonfiction writers, any time he inserts himself into the story, he does it with a distinct sense of purpose. He keeps the story on the subject and not himself.

I'd like to write more on this one, but I'm off to read a half-dozen or so books he's already put out. I've read over 30 books in the first 5 months of 2015. This is possibly the best.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
vilma
I thought from the title, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" that this book would be about readers' experiences with being shammed, the consequences of their being shamed and some advice or solutions from author. Instead, Jon Ronson writes that the book's journey began with his own identity being hijacked by a spambot and a group using his twitter name.

This is a book about others being shamed. All were `outed' and shamed for different reasons, like the writer who made up quotes for a magazine article, or for the simple (only human type) stupidly like a thoughtless joke on twitter or a thoughtless picture on Facebook.

I was disappointed. And also, around halfway through the book, I was bored. The book seemed directionless, and left me wondering what the point was.

But I was amused at the beginning. Some paragraphs were kind of funny.

Ronson tells us all the places he went to interview people. He tells us how he found these people and how he got some of them to talk. Those he writes about include a disgraced former governor, a writer who lied about the research he supposedly conducted, and a man accused of engaging in a "sick Nazi orgy."

He writes about attending a porn scene being filmed and participating in a group called "Radical Honesty" which helps clients eradicate feelings of being exposed or judged as not being good enough.

I shamefully admit that I'd never heard of most of the people in Ronson's book. There were no Stars of Shame like Monica Lewinsky or the Clintons or Martha Stewart or James Frey or Jayson Blair (New York Times), or Janet Cooke (Washington Post).

This is a fun book and a book about nasty people who destroy other people's livelihoods and lives, (some do it to themselves) and a book where we see people suffer and read of some of them committing suicide and a book about "society's intensifying eagerness to publicly shame people..." And it doesn't gel with the author's lighthearted humor and fun.

This was a superficial treatment of a serious problem.

Ronson "gets it." He ends the book with the line, "We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside of it."

I wish he'd started the book with this line and written with more depth about consequences of being shamed, and not just for the characters he writes about, but for the rest of us. One careless twitter comment or Facebook faux pas and we're all at risk.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
thadus
I'm very glad that I borrowed this from the library. I got about halfway through and returned it. It wasn't what I expected at all. The title led me to believe it would offer stories from the point of view of people who'd been, well, publicly shamed, with perhaps tips on how to get your reputation back on track. But it rambled terribly, leaving me wondering at the bottom of every page what the point was. I eventually closed it, tossed it on the floor, and returned it at my next opportunity.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
denise huffman
While the internet has made it possible for the average person to embarrass big companies into paying attention to our complaints (posting a video of the guitar the airline wrecked and won't pay for, writing a review telling of racist service at a diner), it's also made it all too easy to direct our outrage at individuals. Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed examines the phenomenon.

Ronson looks at some people who've been publicly shamed online, what sparked the attacks, the repercussions, how they dealt with it. He also puts the phenomenon in historical context, reviewing the shaming of society's transgressors in Colonial times and comparing it with modern shaming.

Several of the victims of online public shaming that Ronson profiles here were guilty only of making a stupid comment or posting a silly photo online. The responses were immediate and merciless. Like crazed anonymous mobs, people attacked the unsuspecting victims with outraged and often vile comments. It was brutal and usually led to the victims being fired from their jobs.

Sometimes the victim brings it on himself, as with Jonah Lehrer, a writer who published a couple of books in the Malcolm Gladwell tradition, semi-science-y books that were very popular. But then a journalist realized Lehrer was making up some quotations, and had written some things that couldn't be verified. It seems as if Lehrer didn't start out to be deceitful, but he got quite careless and didn't get caught. Until he did get caught. It's a bit more difficult to say he didn't deserve to lose his reputation, although the level of twitter abuse he had to endure was certainly not warranted.

Ronson investigates what may be a growing business, that of cleaning one's online profile. For hundreds of thousands of dollars, a shaming victim can hire a specialist who will create websites, facebook pages, etc., so that a person googling your name will not see the evidence of your shaming, at least not in the first page or two of results. The bad news is that it doesn't really work. Ronson set up a victim with a web-scrubber specialist who agreed to take on the client as a test case for the book. After a few months, the client's search results had gone from wall-to-wall shame to a benign internet presence. After reading the book, I googled the subject's name and although it was not wall-to-wall shame, the embarrassing photo had returned to the first page of results.

The book leaves you more aware of the effects your online comments can have on others, but there are no real solutions to the problem. It may be that we are still trying to figure this whole internet thing out and having some pretty severe learning spasms in the process.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pinc roq
Jon Ronson's writing is so accessible, so enjoyable that even when he researches quite sinister or dry topics (such as the manipulation of internet data), I can not put the book down. I vaguely remembered the tweet by Justine Sacco with the unfortunate joke about not catching AIDS in Africa if you're white and the way it went viral within no time at all. What I hadn't realised was the impact this had had on her life ever since; fired from the job, shunned by the entire internet and even ostracised by family who did not want to be associated with her or the ignominy she suffered as a result of that unfunny joke. Her life, as she'd known it, was over and from what I understand she is only just starting to rebuild her career and personal life, and this is years after the event. Meanwhile, everyone who was part of her public shaming has moved on. As Ronson says:
"With social media we've created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or sickening villain."
because
"On the Internet we have power in situations where we would otherwise be powerless." , and more specifically on Twitter:
"The people who mattered were the people on Twitter. On Twitter we make our own decisions about who deserves obliteration. We form our own consensus, and we aren't being influenced by the criminal justice system or the media. This makes us formidable."

What Ronson investigates in this book is how the shaming escalates and how the "shamees" have different coping strategies. Some are broken, driven to distraction with their personal and professional lives left in ruins, and a few others come out the other side unscathed. Secondly, what is it that the public reacts to most strongly, ie. what is considered shameful behaviour on the internet, and what seems to be more easily forgiven. Thirdly, he shows the reader what people do to survive a social media flogging (I wondered why Justine Sacco and Lindsey Stone didn't change their names by deed poll in order to move on with their lives) and how to avoid it altogether.
"We were creating a world where the smartest way to survive is to be bland."
Finally, Ronson touches on the ugly truth that companies like Google actually benefit from these outrageous public shamings as illustrated by the search stats pertaining to Justine Sacco in December 2012 (Google earned a minimum of "$120'000 from the destruction of Justine Sacco.") despite their motto of "Don't be evil".

It certainly makes me not want to use their search engine anymore knowing that every time I enter a search term they earn as much as $0.38, and often it's more than that.

The book is an eye-opener, and it's very thought provoking considering how each and every one of us has a responsibility on the internet, especially when it comes to sharing bad news or retweeting offensive material.

We don't feel accountable during a shaming because "a snowflake never feels responsible for the avalanche". As Ronson's research and interview subjects can demonstrate, the snowflakes among us must start to exercise more caution and be less judgmental.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
carolime
Like others have pointed out, this book is just stories (sometimes too verbose for my taste). It's largely unreflected.

Ronson avoids most of the interesting questions: Why did people get fired? Isn't this overreacting? How do employers reach such a conclusion? Is crime and punishment out of proportion if someone loses his job over a silly remark made in their free time? What is the legal impact of the flaw and the responses (shaming)? How can you defend yourself or your company if this happens? Any lawsuits on this, besides Mosley's and the FBI's raid against some script kiddies who ran a DDOS attack? What would happen in such a lawsuit? Ronson spends a whole chapter on companies that try to cover up and restore your online reputation and the European right to be forgotten, but (like most in the book) this is not substantial enough.

I liked the Max Mosley quote that the shaming is over "as soon as the victim steps out of it". Probably the most insightful sentence in the whole book. Still hard enough to pull off.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pam hollern
At first glance this is a very contemporary book fitting only for the second decade of the new millennium; 20 years ago it would have made little sense. Ronson sets out to investigate the phenomenon of on-line shaming – a by-product of the era when everyone thinks they have something important to say in a global show-and-tell free for all. For the misguided, naïve or just plain unlucky social media exposé can have life shattering implications. Ronson starts by unpicking some of the more notorious incidents and meeting with and interviewing some of the victims – no small feat. For someone like me who has neither a Facebook nor Twitter account this is a window on another world. But for all the topicality this is a far deeper and cleverer book than just “prurient curiosity” (his words). Ronson explores deep and age old concepts of guilt, shame and punishment and asks some profound questions along the way. What is shame? What are the reasons behind mass persecution? Why do we join in? Is it possible to recover from guilt? How does a punishment fit a crime? Drawing on material as diverse as a French philosopher, the Stasi, the Stanford psychological experiments and a shaming judge (to mention just a few) he attempts to find some answers.
This is a brilliantly written book; thought provoking, brimming with intelligent ideas and insights as well as some fascinating interviews. Whilst he is also a witty chronicler of the absurd I disagree with the critics on the dust jacket who describe the book as “hilarious” and Ronson as a comic writer. This is a serious book which deserves to be widely read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mardha tilla septiani
This book forces you to look for answers about yourself. Did I participate in bullying that lead to a self imposed exile or worse a suicide? Can I so easily be lead to join an online, faceless mob to takedown down a target for a perceived wrong. If so, is it because I am to scared to face the real enemies, the real challenges, or the real barriers that one must overcome to lead a happy, productive life? If said takedown is accomplished and the person rightfully accepts their proper shaming, did I really participate in making the world a better place or did I just participate? Why wont everybody who is branded with that letter "A" just wear it like they are supposed to and accept the fact that the world will be better when they leave it? The real challenges, the real obstacles; "Screw that, someone just disrespected the troops!" "Honey come to bed, f*** you this woman was giving a bj to her brother-in-law while her child was in the back seat." "Dinners ready, in a second this man did not punish his child properly for stealing a candy bar."

This book is really good but if you have any semblance of being self aware, it will be kind of a bummer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
harj
This is a book that should be required reading for everyone who uses a computer. Even if you think you are aware of the broad scope of social media and the impact it can have on the lives of individuals, Ronson puts this all in a global perspective that is informative even to the most tech savvy person. This is a compelling read on every level. Ronson is exceptional in his ability to be objective, compassionate and honest in his reporting of the individual cases. I had read most of the accounts in the news at some point but was stunned by how far the public shaming went for individuals whose lives were ultimately ruined.

Jon Ronson reads the audio book which makes for a great listen.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lalita
"I suppose that when shamings are delivered like remotely administered drone strikes nobody needs to think about how ferocious our collective power might be. The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche."

Ronson is adept at journalism much in the same way that Louis Theroux is; they appear non-threatening in all kinds of ways, and then nestle themselves into their interview subject, and manage to extract answers by being quite direct. That, and the fact that they're both quote good writing, are key in their results, which are good.

In this book, Ronson delves into shaming and hate, two major factors on the Internet. Nowadays, people get shamed because of all kinds of things, including inadvertent posts. Some of the questions he answers are: why do people team up to shame people online? Why are are the most acrimonious persons online anonymous? And considering that some of those whose crimes (and non-crimes) have been shared, duplicated, laughed at and re-posted a billion times: is it possible to "delete" those public search results when somebody searches for your name?

There are even named shaming and bully groups on the Internet, e.g. Anonymous, who may even do some good, despite all of the problems they create.

Ronson even examines shaming as justice for people who have been sentenced by the law, i.e. where Ted Poe, Texan judge, is concerned, and makes it problematic (which is good):

"Ted Poe’s punishments were sometimes zany - ordering petty criminals to shovel manure, etc. - and sometimes as ingenious as a Goya painting. Like the one he handed down to a Houston teenager, Mike Hubacek. In 1996 Hubacek had been driving drunk at 100 mph with no headlights. He crashed into a van carrying a married couple and their nanny. The husband and the nanny were killed. Poe sentenced Hubacek to 110 days of boot camp, and to carry a sign once a month for ten years in front of high schools and bars that read, I KILLED TWO PEOPLE WHILE DRIVING DRUNK, and to erect a cross and a Star of David at the scene of the crash and to keep it maintained, and to keep photographs of the victims in his wallet for ten years, and to send $10 every week for ten years to a memorial fund in the names of the victims, and to observe the autopsy of a person killed in a drink-driving accident. Punishments like these had proved too psychologically torturous for other people.

A seventeen-year-old boy called Kevin Tunell had in 1982 killed a girl, Susan Herzog, while drink-driving near Washington DC. Her parents sued him, and were awarded $1.5 million in damages. But they offered the boy a deal. They would reduce the fine to just $936 if he’d mail them a cheque for $1, made out in Susan’s name, every Friday for eighteen years. He gratefully accepted their offer. Years later the boy began missing payments, and when Susan’s parents took him to court he broke down. Every time he filled in her name, he said, the guilt would tear him apart: ‘It hurts too much,’ he said. He tried to give the Herzogs two boxes of pre-written cheques, dated one per week until the end of 2001, a year longer than was required. But they refused to take them.

Judge Ted Poe’s critics - like the civil rights group the ACLU - argued to him the dangers of these ostentatious punishments, especially those that were carried out in public. They said it was no coincidence that public shaming had enjoyed such a renaissance in Mao’s China and Hitler’s Germany and the Ku Klux Klan’s America: it destroys souls, brutalizing everyone, the onlookers included, dehumanizing them as much as the person who was being shamed. How could Poe take someone with such low self-esteem that they needed to, say, rob a store, and then hold them up to officially sanctioned public ridicule?"

Also, it's interesting to think of what pops up when you search for your own name on the Internet:

"I kept remembering something Michael Fertik had said to me at the Village Pub in Woodside. ‘The biggest lie,’ he said, ‘is “The Internet is about you.” We like to think of ourselves as people who have choice and taste and personalized content. But the Internet isn’t about us. It’s about the companies that dominate the data flows of the Internet.’"

Of course, does this mean that Internet disasters that bode an Internet destruction for some may earn some companies money?

"Now, I suddenly wondered. Did Google make money from the destruction of Justine Sacco? Could a figure be calculated? And so I joined forces with a number-crunching researcher, Solvej Krause, and began writing to economists and analysts and online ad revenue people. Some things were known. In December 2013, the month of Justine’s annihilation, 12.2 billion Google searches took place - a figure that made me feel less worried about the possibility that people were sitting inside Google headquarters personally judging me. Google’s ad revenue for that month was $4.69 billion. Which meant they made an average of $0.38 for every search query. Every time we typed anything into Google: 38 cents to Google. Of those 12.2 billion searches that December, 1.2 million were people searching the name Justine Sacco. And so, if you average it out, Justine’s catastrophe instantaneously made Google $456,000.

But he thought it would be appropriately conservative - maybe a little too conservative - to estimate Justine’s worth, being a ‘low-value query’, at a quarter of the average. Which, if true, means Google made $120,000 from the destruction of Justine Sacco.

Maybe that’s an accurate figure. Maybe Google made more, or possibly less. But one thing’s certain. Those of us who did the actual annihilating? We got nothing."

In other words, yes, Google and Twitter and other companies that you use to search for data make money off not handling public shamings. These companies can bow down to organisations, companies and governments that want data on individuals, but they won't remove it even though it's the demise of that person. And persons.

All in all, Ronson goes through a bunch of interesting cases where people have been shamed, how they've handled it and he also tries to delve into his own shaming, both shamings of himself and how he's shamed others. It's a quite interesting book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eleny
This is a remarkable book because its author has managed to base a compelling, coherent narrative around something that is very hard to think about, let alone write about. As Jon Ronson notes in the acknowledgments section, one of his interviewees told him that shame is "an incredibly inarticulate emotion. It's something you bathe in, it's not something you wax eloquent about. It's such a deep, dark, ugly thing there are very few words for it."

For this reason, it is essential reading, because Ronson had the brilliant foresight several years ago to place a microphone on a subject which continues to echo loudly today, as I write this in early 2017. His premise is that social media allows people to make snap judgments and form online mobs in order to gang up on individuals who have done something wrong, in the eyes of the many. The goal is to humiliate, shame and silence these people, so that they are punished for their transgressions. Here, Ronson records several significant stories in this vein, and speaks to the 'shamees', so that we might learn from their experience of what it is like to go through this kind of public humiliation. As he also notes in the acknowledgments, this book marked the first time that many of these people had spoken to a journalist about what had happened to them, so Ronson deserves full credit for positioning himself as the person to tell this complex story, and earning their trust.

I had heard Jon Ronson doing the press and podcast rounds when this book was published in 2015, and so prior to reading it, I had a general sense of its themes and many of the stories contained within. But one of its strengths is in the empathy of its telling, and fittingly, it begins with Ronson leading an online mob to tear down some academics who had created a Twitter "infomorph" based on his name and identity. His ego had been hurt, and he wanted to feel better about the situation, so he called on his fans. This begins a personal transformation: the infomorph episode leads Ronson to dig deeper into this phenomenon of technology-enabled pile-ons than anyone before him. He does not end on a hopeful note, either: the book's final sentence reads, "We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside of it."

He notes that with social media, we have created "a stage for constant artificial high dramas. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain." Again, the echoes are deafening: this still happens practically every week in the Australian media, at least, and one can only look on with a sense of helplessness at the machinery's gnawing teeth, led by the public's apparently incessant need to sink its boot into someone for doing something that's perceived to be wrong. (The villains seem to be reported on with much more vigour than the heroes, sadly, perhaps because of the higher emotional valence.) Ronson is self-aware about this, too: halfway through, he notes, "Shame can factor large in the life of a journalist – the personal avoidance of it and the professional bestowing of it upon others." This is Jon Ronson's most ambitious book, and his best yet. It's a must-read because it is a highly original work that strikes at the core of human nature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
karen hogan
I love Jon Ronson's work: meandering, quirky, funny and insightful. Whenever I need cheering up, or distracting with something interesting, I reach for one of his books. In 'So...' Ronson dives into the murky world of Internet shaming, and asks some pertinent questions of all of us who live virtual lives in the glowing screen. Great stuff.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nidhi chanani
This book is fascinating in the same respect that a train wreck is fascinating. Mr. Ronson's real subject is the promiscuous use of internet social media (especially Twitter) to launch massive anonymous attacks on individuals. The ability of the medium to destroy lives is an important phenomena of our times and deserves serious consideration. The book starts off well and then falls into a rambling discussion that is often interesting but doesn't add much to the topic. Instead of serious consideration the book provides a few anecdotes involving victims of this process, most of whom were guilty mostly of bad taste and poor judgement. For instance the person that had themselves photographed making an obscene gesture toward the graves at Arlington. Then put it on the net. Unfortunately this seems presented as an interesting story (and it is) without seriously considering any of the issues (e.g. what kind of mindset considers that funny?). Another point not acknowledged is that for the most part this is a product of the explosion of social media - individuals who do not participate in Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or the like would have no idea it was even happening.

Trivia: Police have been known to riot, the case example is probably Chicago 1968.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
katelyn
As someone who has grown to prominence in the health sphere online in the past decade, this book intrigued me greatly. As a blogger, podcaster and author, I have quite literally heard it all from people about my weight, my state of health, how insignificant I am, how unworthy I am to even be allowed to speak about health, and worse. Public shaming online takes on a life of its own when a certain meme gets out there and then it parroted by others who seek to tear down and destroy individuals and entities without regard to verifying whether the information they are sharing is valid or not. Jon Ronson has encapsulated this phenomenon better than any other book I have seen out there.

We've seen famous people like Paula Deen, Tiger Woods, Martha Stewart, and even Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder all get publicly humiliated and shamed for one mistake that cost them their prominence in the limelight (although several of these examples have managed to make a comeback despite their moment of defeat). Not all shaming is bad, per se, or unwarranted. But from what I've seen especially on the Internet, most of the time it's more a personal vendetta than any particular vigilante justice being done.

I am ever-mindful of this in my own work and strive to live my life with integrity in every action that I do. While I can't control what others will do to try to bring me down (three entire blogs are dedicated to doing just that), I can control what I write, say and do in my life to let people make up their own minds about who and what I am. That's what Ronson is attempting to communicate through his book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
leah sutton
Jon Ronson's writing is so accessible, so enjoyable that even when he researches quite sinister or dry topics (such as the manipulation of internet data), I can not put the book down. I vaguely remembered the tweet by Justine Sacco with the unfortunate joke about not catching AIDS in Africa if you're white and the way it went viral within no time at all. What I hadn't realised was the impact this had had on her life ever since; fired from the job, shunned by the entire internet and even ostracised by family who did not want to be associated with her or the ignominy she suffered as a result of that unfunny joke. Her life, as she'd known it, was over and from what I understand she is only just starting to rebuild her career and personal life, and this is years after the event. Meanwhile, everyone who was part of her public shaming has moved on. As Ronson says:
"With social media we've created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or sickening villain."
because
"On the Internet we have power in situations where we would otherwise be powerless." , and more specifically on Twitter:
"The people who mattered were the people on Twitter. On Twitter we make our own decisions about who deserves obliteration. We form our own consensus, and we aren't being influenced by the criminal justice system or the media. This makes us formidable."

What Ronson investigates in this book is how the shaming escalates and how the "shamees" have different coping strategies. Some are broken, driven to distraction with their personal and professional lives left in ruins, and a few others come out the other side unscathed. Secondly, what is it that the public reacts to most strongly, ie. what is considered shameful behaviour on the internet, and what seems to be more easily forgiven. Thirdly, he shows the reader what people do to survive a social media flogging (I wondered why Justine Sacco and Lindsey Stone didn't change their names by deed poll in order to move on with their lives) and how to avoid it altogether.
"We were creating a world where the smartest way to survive is to be bland."
Finally, Ronson touches on the ugly truth that companies like Google actually benefit from these outrageous public shamings as illustrated by the search stats pertaining to Justine Sacco in December 2012 (Google earned a minimum of "$120'000 from the destruction of Justine Sacco.") despite their motto of "Don't be evil".

It certainly makes me not want to use their search engine anymore knowing that every time I enter a search term they earn as much as $0.38, and often it's more than that.

The book is an eye-opener, and it's very thought provoking considering how each and every one of us has a responsibility on the internet, especially when it comes to sharing bad news or retweeting offensive material.

We don't feel accountable during a shaming because "a snowflake never feels responsible for the avalanche". As Ronson's research and interview subjects can demonstrate, the snowflakes among us must start to exercise more caution and be less judgmental.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
paul moffett
Like others have pointed out, this book is just stories (sometimes too verbose for my taste). It's largely unreflected.

Ronson avoids most of the interesting questions: Why did people get fired? Isn't this overreacting? How do employers reach such a conclusion? Is crime and punishment out of proportion if someone loses his job over a silly remark made in their free time? What is the legal impact of the flaw and the responses (shaming)? How can you defend yourself or your company if this happens? Any lawsuits on this, besides Mosley's and the FBI's raid against some script kiddies who ran a DDOS attack? What would happen in such a lawsuit? Ronson spends a whole chapter on companies that try to cover up and restore your online reputation and the European right to be forgotten, but (like most in the book) this is not substantial enough.

I liked the Max Mosley quote that the shaming is over "as soon as the victim steps out of it". Probably the most insightful sentence in the whole book. Still hard enough to pull off.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hitesh
At first glance this is a very contemporary book fitting only for the second decade of the new millennium; 20 years ago it would have made little sense. Ronson sets out to investigate the phenomenon of on-line shaming – a by-product of the era when everyone thinks they have something important to say in a global show-and-tell free for all. For the misguided, naïve or just plain unlucky social media exposé can have life shattering implications. Ronson starts by unpicking some of the more notorious incidents and meeting with and interviewing some of the victims – no small feat. For someone like me who has neither a Facebook nor Twitter account this is a window on another world. But for all the topicality this is a far deeper and cleverer book than just “prurient curiosity” (his words). Ronson explores deep and age old concepts of guilt, shame and punishment and asks some profound questions along the way. What is shame? What are the reasons behind mass persecution? Why do we join in? Is it possible to recover from guilt? How does a punishment fit a crime? Drawing on material as diverse as a French philosopher, the Stasi, the Stanford psychological experiments and a shaming judge (to mention just a few) he attempts to find some answers.
This is a brilliantly written book; thought provoking, brimming with intelligent ideas and insights as well as some fascinating interviews. Whilst he is also a witty chronicler of the absurd I disagree with the critics on the dust jacket who describe the book as “hilarious” and Ronson as a comic writer. This is a serious book which deserves to be widely read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katybeth
This book forces you to look for answers about yourself. Did I participate in bullying that lead to a self imposed exile or worse a suicide? Can I so easily be lead to join an online, faceless mob to takedown down a target for a perceived wrong. If so, is it because I am to scared to face the real enemies, the real challenges, or the real barriers that one must overcome to lead a happy, productive life? If said takedown is accomplished and the person rightfully accepts their proper shaming, did I really participate in making the world a better place or did I just participate? Why wont everybody who is branded with that letter "A" just wear it like they are supposed to and accept the fact that the world will be better when they leave it? The real challenges, the real obstacles; "Screw that, someone just disrespected the troops!" "Honey come to bed, f*** you this woman was giving a bj to her brother-in-law while her child was in the back seat." "Dinners ready, in a second this man did not punish his child properly for stealing a candy bar."

This book is really good but if you have any semblance of being self aware, it will be kind of a bummer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeri hirshman
This is a book that should be required reading for everyone who uses a computer. Even if you think you are aware of the broad scope of social media and the impact it can have on the lives of individuals, Ronson puts this all in a global perspective that is informative even to the most tech savvy person. This is a compelling read on every level. Ronson is exceptional in his ability to be objective, compassionate and honest in his reporting of the individual cases. I had read most of the accounts in the news at some point but was stunned by how far the public shaming went for individuals whose lives were ultimately ruined.

Jon Ronson reads the audio book which makes for a great listen.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
stacy frank
"I suppose that when shamings are delivered like remotely administered drone strikes nobody needs to think about how ferocious our collective power might be. The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche."

Ronson is adept at journalism much in the same way that Louis Theroux is; they appear non-threatening in all kinds of ways, and then nestle themselves into their interview subject, and manage to extract answers by being quite direct. That, and the fact that they're both quote good writing, are key in their results, which are good.

In this book, Ronson delves into shaming and hate, two major factors on the Internet. Nowadays, people get shamed because of all kinds of things, including inadvertent posts. Some of the questions he answers are: why do people team up to shame people online? Why are are the most acrimonious persons online anonymous? And considering that some of those whose crimes (and non-crimes) have been shared, duplicated, laughed at and re-posted a billion times: is it possible to "delete" those public search results when somebody searches for your name?

There are even named shaming and bully groups on the Internet, e.g. Anonymous, who may even do some good, despite all of the problems they create.

Ronson even examines shaming as justice for people who have been sentenced by the law, i.e. where Ted Poe, Texan judge, is concerned, and makes it problematic (which is good):

"Ted Poe’s punishments were sometimes zany - ordering petty criminals to shovel manure, etc. - and sometimes as ingenious as a Goya painting. Like the one he handed down to a Houston teenager, Mike Hubacek. In 1996 Hubacek had been driving drunk at 100 mph with no headlights. He crashed into a van carrying a married couple and their nanny. The husband and the nanny were killed. Poe sentenced Hubacek to 110 days of boot camp, and to carry a sign once a month for ten years in front of high schools and bars that read, I KILLED TWO PEOPLE WHILE DRIVING DRUNK, and to erect a cross and a Star of David at the scene of the crash and to keep it maintained, and to keep photographs of the victims in his wallet for ten years, and to send $10 every week for ten years to a memorial fund in the names of the victims, and to observe the autopsy of a person killed in a drink-driving accident. Punishments like these had proved too psychologically torturous for other people.

A seventeen-year-old boy called Kevin Tunell had in 1982 killed a girl, Susan Herzog, while drink-driving near Washington DC. Her parents sued him, and were awarded $1.5 million in damages. But they offered the boy a deal. They would reduce the fine to just $936 if he’d mail them a cheque for $1, made out in Susan’s name, every Friday for eighteen years. He gratefully accepted their offer. Years later the boy began missing payments, and when Susan’s parents took him to court he broke down. Every time he filled in her name, he said, the guilt would tear him apart: ‘It hurts too much,’ he said. He tried to give the Herzogs two boxes of pre-written cheques, dated one per week until the end of 2001, a year longer than was required. But they refused to take them.

Judge Ted Poe’s critics - like the civil rights group the ACLU - argued to him the dangers of these ostentatious punishments, especially those that were carried out in public. They said it was no coincidence that public shaming had enjoyed such a renaissance in Mao’s China and Hitler’s Germany and the Ku Klux Klan’s America: it destroys souls, brutalizing everyone, the onlookers included, dehumanizing them as much as the person who was being shamed. How could Poe take someone with such low self-esteem that they needed to, say, rob a store, and then hold them up to officially sanctioned public ridicule?"

Also, it's interesting to think of what pops up when you search for your own name on the Internet:

"I kept remembering something Michael Fertik had said to me at the Village Pub in Woodside. ‘The biggest lie,’ he said, ‘is “The Internet is about you.” We like to think of ourselves as people who have choice and taste and personalized content. But the Internet isn’t about us. It’s about the companies that dominate the data flows of the Internet.’"

Of course, does this mean that Internet disasters that bode an Internet destruction for some may earn some companies money?

"Now, I suddenly wondered. Did Google make money from the destruction of Justine Sacco? Could a figure be calculated? And so I joined forces with a number-crunching researcher, Solvej Krause, and began writing to economists and analysts and online ad revenue people. Some things were known. In December 2013, the month of Justine’s annihilation, 12.2 billion Google searches took place - a figure that made me feel less worried about the possibility that people were sitting inside Google headquarters personally judging me. Google’s ad revenue for that month was $4.69 billion. Which meant they made an average of $0.38 for every search query. Every time we typed anything into Google: 38 cents to Google. Of those 12.2 billion searches that December, 1.2 million were people searching the name Justine Sacco. And so, if you average it out, Justine’s catastrophe instantaneously made Google $456,000.

But he thought it would be appropriately conservative - maybe a little too conservative - to estimate Justine’s worth, being a ‘low-value query’, at a quarter of the average. Which, if true, means Google made $120,000 from the destruction of Justine Sacco.

Maybe that’s an accurate figure. Maybe Google made more, or possibly less. But one thing’s certain. Those of us who did the actual annihilating? We got nothing."

In other words, yes, Google and Twitter and other companies that you use to search for data make money off not handling public shamings. These companies can bow down to organisations, companies and governments that want data on individuals, but they won't remove it even though it's the demise of that person. And persons.

All in all, Ronson goes through a bunch of interesting cases where people have been shamed, how they've handled it and he also tries to delve into his own shaming, both shamings of himself and how he's shamed others. It's a quite interesting book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tracy templeton
This is a remarkable book because its author has managed to base a compelling, coherent narrative around something that is very hard to think about, let alone write about. As Jon Ronson notes in the acknowledgments section, one of his interviewees told him that shame is "an incredibly inarticulate emotion. It's something you bathe in, it's not something you wax eloquent about. It's such a deep, dark, ugly thing there are very few words for it."

For this reason, it is essential reading, because Ronson had the brilliant foresight several years ago to place a microphone on a subject which continues to echo loudly today, as I write this in early 2017. His premise is that social media allows people to make snap judgments and form online mobs in order to gang up on individuals who have done something wrong, in the eyes of the many. The goal is to humiliate, shame and silence these people, so that they are punished for their transgressions. Here, Ronson records several significant stories in this vein, and speaks to the 'shamees', so that we might learn from their experience of what it is like to go through this kind of public humiliation. As he also notes in the acknowledgments, this book marked the first time that many of these people had spoken to a journalist about what had happened to them, so Ronson deserves full credit for positioning himself as the person to tell this complex story, and earning their trust.

I had heard Jon Ronson doing the press and podcast rounds when this book was published in 2015, and so prior to reading it, I had a general sense of its themes and many of the stories contained within. But one of its strengths is in the empathy of its telling, and fittingly, it begins with Ronson leading an online mob to tear down some academics who had created a Twitter "infomorph" based on his name and identity. His ego had been hurt, and he wanted to feel better about the situation, so he called on his fans. This begins a personal transformation: the infomorph episode leads Ronson to dig deeper into this phenomenon of technology-enabled pile-ons than anyone before him. He does not end on a hopeful note, either: the book's final sentence reads, "We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside of it."

He notes that with social media, we have created "a stage for constant artificial high dramas. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain." Again, the echoes are deafening: this still happens practically every week in the Australian media, at least, and one can only look on with a sense of helplessness at the machinery's gnawing teeth, led by the public's apparently incessant need to sink its boot into someone for doing something that's perceived to be wrong. (The villains seem to be reported on with much more vigour than the heroes, sadly, perhaps because of the higher emotional valence.) Ronson is self-aware about this, too: halfway through, he notes, "Shame can factor large in the life of a journalist – the personal avoidance of it and the professional bestowing of it upon others." This is Jon Ronson's most ambitious book, and his best yet. It's a must-read because it is a highly original work that strikes at the core of human nature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny nielsen
I love Jon Ronson's work: meandering, quirky, funny and insightful. Whenever I need cheering up, or distracting with something interesting, I reach for one of his books. In 'So...' Ronson dives into the murky world of Internet shaming, and asks some pertinent questions of all of us who live virtual lives in the glowing screen. Great stuff.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
arden
This book is fascinating in the same respect that a train wreck is fascinating. Mr. Ronson's real subject is the promiscuous use of internet social media (especially Twitter) to launch massive anonymous attacks on individuals. The ability of the medium to destroy lives is an important phenomena of our times and deserves serious consideration. The book starts off well and then falls into a rambling discussion that is often interesting but doesn't add much to the topic. Instead of serious consideration the book provides a few anecdotes involving victims of this process, most of whom were guilty mostly of bad taste and poor judgement. For instance the person that had themselves photographed making an obscene gesture toward the graves at Arlington. Then put it on the net. Unfortunately this seems presented as an interesting story (and it is) without seriously considering any of the issues (e.g. what kind of mindset considers that funny?). Another point not acknowledged is that for the most part this is a product of the explosion of social media - individuals who do not participate in Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or the like would have no idea it was even happening.

Trivia: Police have been known to riot, the case example is probably Chicago 1968.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maxine bruce
As someone who has grown to prominence in the health sphere online in the past decade, this book intrigued me greatly. As a blogger, podcaster and author, I have quite literally heard it all from people about my weight, my state of health, how insignificant I am, how unworthy I am to even be allowed to speak about health, and worse. Public shaming online takes on a life of its own when a certain meme gets out there and then it parroted by others who seek to tear down and destroy individuals and entities without regard to verifying whether the information they are sharing is valid or not. Jon Ronson has encapsulated this phenomenon better than any other book I have seen out there.

We've seen famous people like Paula Deen, Tiger Woods, Martha Stewart, and even Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder all get publicly humiliated and shamed for one mistake that cost them their prominence in the limelight (although several of these examples have managed to make a comeback despite their moment of defeat). Not all shaming is bad, per se, or unwarranted. But from what I've seen especially on the Internet, most of the time it's more a personal vendetta than any particular vigilante justice being done.

I am ever-mindful of this in my own work and strive to live my life with integrity in every action that I do. While I can't control what others will do to try to bring me down (three entire blogs are dedicated to doing just that), I can control what I write, say and do in my life to let people make up their own minds about who and what I am. That's what Ronson is attempting to communicate through his book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
peder
It felt like there was a lot of overlap in research between this and Psychopath Test towards the end, which felt lazy, but Jon's accent is delightful and he does a great job postulating and inserting research into his narratives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rebecca b
Equal parts entertaining and terrifying. Ronson lets us walk a mile in the shoes of people who inadvertently become the target of the angry mob, and it's a long, hard march. Each day it seems some unsuspecting individual is thrown into the crucible of public scorn and ridicule that only the internet can provide. Some deservedly so, but often the hateful response grossly overshadows the transgression that triggered it. This book should be required reading for all high school kids before they are allowed to engage in social media.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
garrett bridges
Jon Ronson is an amazing writer. He makes non-fiction a compelling page turner with humorous overtones.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed underscores the afterlife of the mistakes one might make online.
Before the internet, a few friends might remember when you were a jerk, now the whole world will never allow you to forget.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
j jorge
Ronson raises an important issue, with some fascinating examples, but doesn’t go nearly far enough. Why doesn’t he discuss the reason why so many cowards enjoy screaming digital obscenities and threats, from the safety of their own anonymity, at people who haven’t harmed them? Why doesn’t he address the issue of whether or not an employer should promptly fire an employee just for being the victim of tweeted rape threats?

Perhaps the accused and his or her employer could address the situation calmly, with explanations and apologies if appropriate, and perhaps, some form of compensation or other action. This might allow some sort of learning to take place, and the threatening tweeters would be depressed, since there would be less drama and self-righteousness.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amanda boyd
Jon Ronson is a wonderful author, he tackles topics dealing with today's culture in a way few are able to do, with much insight and great storytelling skills. This was a fascinating read, the psychology of mob justice in the digital age, this is something that should be of concern to everyone with a keyboard, words are the new weapons of the modern age and they hurt, badly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alida
A candid look into the ruthlessness of humans hiding behind a screen. A worthwhile consideration in to how we value ourselves, others & the world we live in. If nothing else, a plea for grace and mercy to reign over guilt and shame. Bottom line in my own words? This world needs less of us, and more of Jesus.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
james gentry
Ronson's trademark humor is on-point in this book. Although I did not enjoy it as much as his previous fare, it definitely elicited a few laughs from me. I was, however, confused by some of the incidents within the book, which doesn't seem to meld well with the point of the story.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jason saldanha
This should have never been a book - it's a long essay that was stretched way too thin in order to make a book. The case studies are moderately interesting, but this would have worked better with more (in)famous subjects of shaming.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
burgundy
A quick read and quite enlightening. Makes me want to read some of Ronson's other books Alas, I think this form of shaming will be with us for quite some time, barring massive solar flares, EMPs, or the onset of a MAD MAX-style dystopian future in which the InterWebs no longer exist.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vera holenstein
This is essentially just a collection of anecdotes, although the stories are very well told. But the plural of anecdote is not data, and I would have liked a better attempt to integrate the personal into a more coherent view of what this really means for our society, and particularly for government policy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elynor
He layers his own experience researching the subject in with the story of that person he is writing about. He points the camera at himself as an example of how society acts in situations rather than commenting from an ivory tower. He has no agenda other than the truth. This could be a review for any of his books.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
karina
This is a strange book -- aside from the many odd sidetracks the author takes (are there no editors anymore?), the author from the start makes it clear he's one who has joyfully engaged in shaming and destroying so many people publicly on Twitter that he no longer has a clue how many of them he's left in his wake or what their names are. Which is not the perspective at all I was expecting going into this thing. So don't be surprised when you get a look at the reporters' gleeful side of the story of taking down someone and their reputation and livelihood. There are interesting bits here and there, but honestly, it's almost like the author has ADD, it can be extremely hard to follow when he's flitting from one person and place and story to another almost from paragraph to paragraph by the end. I was expecting something very different I guess.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shjadow
Simply amazing. I've heard bits of almost all of the stories in the book, but not the whole story put together the way Ronson does. His ideas put a pit in my stomach; he creates a tension between the consequences of having an opinion and voice versus the importance of having an opinion and voice. It makes me wonder, should I review this book online?

Should be a must read for those new to the internet.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
selby
This was a fascinating book from start to finish. I can't believe how gripping and thought provoking I found it. It is one of those books that has made me really rethink life, especially internet life. Highly recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark louie parcasio
As our climate of shaming reaches a feverish, choir-like pitch, it is heartening to know that someone is making an effort to investigate our revived pastime of destroying our neighbors. The abstract fear of Big Brother coming to oppress us has been replaced by our very real selves. It's truly an insane development, and it makes me want to throw out my computer. Hats off to Jon Ronson for his brave, critical, and empathetic book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lisa roll
This is an interesting--and disturbing--look at call-out culture, and how its targets aren't always well chosen and the justice it metes out is usually anything but just. At times I shivered and at other times my blood boiled, which are signs that Ronson's point was well made. Give it a read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
talitha
‘So You've Been Publicly Shamed’ has been such a compelling read that I want to read other books by Jon Ronson. Favorite reading subjects of mine include technology and psychology so this was clearly a no brainer. It’s an insightful book on social media and the individual as well as how people deal with shame both publicly and privately.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kimberly pollard crump
Contrary to some "professional" reviews, such as Daniel Engber's on slate.com, Ronson never lets himself look for easy resolutions or simple interpretations of events and behaviours. This book about who, how, and why we shame (among other topics) is fascinating and complex, and adds to Ronson's canon of books of hilarious and original thought. I love this author!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer baker
I've been interested in this topic lately, and Ronson did a great job laying out various threads and tying them together into a compelling story about the gross ways we are relishing in turning people into caricatures of villains and heroes so that we can derive a cheap thrill into vilifying them. Also, I loved his writing style--sometimes pleading
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
virgiliu
What a great read!
Not only great insights into social media, but lots of very interesting stories from all over the place. He writes and investigates as a journalist and balances the facts and backstory with his commentary perfectly. This book is thought provoking, enjoyable, educational, and captivating. I just finished it today but I have already recommended it to several people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
redar ismail
This book discusses a number of people who have been publicly shamed, mostly on social media though in a couple of cases in more traditional ways. A few had their lives destroyed by the process, others sauntered through with little ill effect. Ronson discusses their cases (all of which were, surprisingly, familiar to me), and tries to understand how the mob chooses whom to target, and how these people deal with the pressure of the attacks. He feels sympathy for almost all these people, the possible exception being the dishonest science journalist, Jonah Lehrer.

The book is quite readable, but in the end it feels slight. Even Ronson struggles to extract a lesson from these cases. Some deserved it, some don't. Shaming can be brutal, but it's not always. It can usefully guide people to being good citizens, or it can drive them the other way. Ronson thinks we rely too much on shame, but reasonable people can disagree. There's a chapter near the end that amounts to a commercial for the website reputation.com, and which felt out of place.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary kelly
Excellent read about the decades old practice of public shaming in the new age of social media. For me, this was a real page turner. I liked how Jon wove the stories of modern day shaming together with opinions and thinking on the subject with those who had been shamed and other professionals. It definitely shines a bright light on human behavior gone bad.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
cilantro
I was pleasantly surprised when I first started this book because I wasn't expecting too much, maybe a short and quirky story about embarassment or whatever. But instead "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" actually starts off as a smart and engaging story about the power of the internet, what happens to the target of a pile-on both during and after the moment, and how the way we shame people now is radically different than ever before, both because of the permanency of the internet and also because it takes so little effort now to hurl invective at another human being, and because we're insulated to a large degree from the hurt we cause while doing so.

Unfortunately, after a very good beginning the book starts to branch off into trivial matters and side avenues that have nothing really to do with the premise, I can only assume because the author is trying to pad the page count. This would have made a very good magazine article or maybe series of blog posts, but its not the best as a full length book.

Pick it up if you can get it cheap, some of the ideas it raises are pretty interesting, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
larae
Ronson takes and insightful and entertaining quest to figure out what the hell social media is doing to our public discourse, and why we've turned into virtual mobs hungry to destroy people's lives for something as petty as a tasteless joke. Full of interesting stories, hilarious details, and pithy turns of phrase.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sofia pereira
Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Should be read by anyone who spends time in the land of "social media". Anonymity is a powerful force and should be considered closely when it is the source of our information.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julia gorski
Contrary to some "professional" reviews, such as Daniel Engber's on slate.com, Ronson never lets himself look for easy resolutions or simple interpretations of events and behaviours. This book about who, how, and why we shame (among other topics) is fascinating and complex, and adds to Ronson's canon of books of hilarious and original thought. I love this author!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
colin h
I've been interested in this topic lately, and Ronson did a great job laying out various threads and tying them together into a compelling story about the gross ways we are relishing in turning people into caricatures of villains and heroes so that we can derive a cheap thrill into vilifying them. Also, I loved his writing style--sometimes pleading
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy medina
What a great read!
Not only great insights into social media, but lots of very interesting stories from all over the place. He writes and investigates as a journalist and balances the facts and backstory with his commentary perfectly. This book is thought provoking, enjoyable, educational, and captivating. I just finished it today but I have already recommended it to several people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
barthas
This book discusses a number of people who have been publicly shamed, mostly on social media though in a couple of cases in more traditional ways. A few had their lives destroyed by the process, others sauntered through with little ill effect. Ronson discusses their cases (all of which were, surprisingly, familiar to me), and tries to understand how the mob chooses whom to target, and how these people deal with the pressure of the attacks. He feels sympathy for almost all these people, the possible exception being the dishonest science journalist, Jonah Lehrer.

The book is quite readable, but in the end it feels slight. Even Ronson struggles to extract a lesson from these cases. Some deserved it, some don't. Shaming can be brutal, but it's not always. It can usefully guide people to being good citizens, or it can drive them the other way. Ronson thinks we rely too much on shame, but reasonable people can disagree. There's a chapter near the end that amounts to a commercial for the website reputation.com, and which felt out of place.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john mccreery
Excellent read about the decades old practice of public shaming in the new age of social media. For me, this was a real page turner. I liked how Jon wove the stories of modern day shaming together with opinions and thinking on the subject with those who had been shamed and other professionals. It definitely shines a bright light on human behavior gone bad.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
eric boe
I was pleasantly surprised when I first started this book because I wasn't expecting too much, maybe a short and quirky story about embarassment or whatever. But instead "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" actually starts off as a smart and engaging story about the power of the internet, what happens to the target of a pile-on both during and after the moment, and how the way we shame people now is radically different than ever before, both because of the permanency of the internet and also because it takes so little effort now to hurl invective at another human being, and because we're insulated to a large degree from the hurt we cause while doing so.

Unfortunately, after a very good beginning the book starts to branch off into trivial matters and side avenues that have nothing really to do with the premise, I can only assume because the author is trying to pad the page count. This would have made a very good magazine article or maybe series of blog posts, but its not the best as a full length book.

Pick it up if you can get it cheap, some of the ideas it raises are pretty interesting, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anne barnhill
Ronson takes and insightful and entertaining quest to figure out what the hell social media is doing to our public discourse, and why we've turned into virtual mobs hungry to destroy people's lives for something as petty as a tasteless joke. Full of interesting stories, hilarious details, and pithy turns of phrase.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sohini banerjee
Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Should be read by anyone who spends time in the land of "social media". Anonymity is a powerful force and should be considered closely when it is the source of our information.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fazeli
Thoroughly interesting read on a topic that has been troubling me for some time. The author presents compelling questions, without judgement against those that have already been judged in social media.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ckwebgrrl
There's a lot to like about this book. It helps the reader consider the issue of public shaming without providing a clear answer or way forward. Some readers might want more direction than, "Digital public shaming is bad," and this book won't go much further than that.

It details the problems well, but it didn't really plot a way forward. It would be interesting to hear what the author thinks in 2017.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
khawaja naeem
I have not read a novel in a long time. I instinctively knew I would find this book more interesting than most books about shame. It's pretty personal. Everyone, I'd imagine, has a fear of being publicly shamed. Reputation is inherently tied to how we get treated as human beings.

I like the trial and error/memoir approach in this book. The author didn't put himself out there for ridicule himself, but If I read the book correctly, he was pretty transfixed on checking out his intuitive inner questioning about the concept of public shame. And he freely experimented with his educated guesses about how it all works - on the internet and through other means. He put himself in many situations where he could observe closely, but without compromising himself. He set out to learn and teach through his learning.

He used a systematic method to (in my opinion) find what was/is as close to the truth as possible for whatever timeline mentioned.. I have few reservations about what is written in this book. Unfortunately, I Googled people mentioned in the book, and I was disappointed by the effectiveness of one of the solutions proposed for a runaway reputation on the internet, but I believe when he wrote the excerpts in question he may have thought the solution was viable. I don't know, but I trust his motives that he intended to do the right thing,a and write what he thought was fact.

I simply couldn't put the book down. I read it in a day and a half.

I was regularly shamed as much as a person can be - while working my job from 1981 to 2010 when I then retired and went on disability. I tried everything to stop many emotional train wrecks from happening during those years. My emotional buttons were pushed regularly, and I do not know if my poor state of mind was born out of this and the fact that I was a single mother at a very young age. (and uneducated at the time the shaming began) Who was going to give me a job recommendation - a letter of approval to a new employer? I became versed in the shame process that gets handed down the ranks. This book is very psychological, and it rings true!

I believe as the author what common thread binds the downtrodden. I am more than enthusiastic about this author and his work. I haven't read his other works. The people he mentions are 99% real. The names were changed in a couple of instances.

What is really going on with social media where (he doesn't say these exact words, but...) people can saywhat they want more readily on the internet. I read his conclusion many times. I wanted something final to take away from the book. A final word of wisdom maybe - to tie in all the chapters. Yes!

The author has much empathy, and he throughly immerses himself in studying his characters. I highly recommend this very deep and introspective book. It is a winner.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
meenakshi
It's an interesting topic, but Ronson's treatment is poor. The book reads like Ronson did about 1/3 of the necessary research and then cobbled something together to meet a deadline. The story is frequently about his struggles in finding people and topics for this book, almost like he is making excuses for why the book is so thin on content. To fill the page count, he repeats sentences and paragraphs multiple times. I don't recommend reading this book. However, if you do, you won't miss anything if you read only one sentence per page.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kaylen
The phenomenon of contemporary, Internet-driven public shaming is an important one, very much in need of a searching and comprehensive analysis. Jon Ronson's latest is not that book. It is, like most of Ronson's work, cheerfully lightweight, casually researched, hollowly opinionated, more concerned with entertaining than informing. With certain topics, this approach works. Here, it falls badly short, in no small part because Ronson feels an evident passion for the subject that isn't matched by his interpretive skill. Like a lot of people, he thought public shaming was good when he sympathized more with the shamers than the shamed, and changed his mind when the reverse was true. His personal sympathy for certain targets of shaming (many of whom spoke only to him and refused all other journalists, a situation that should perhaps have inspired some self-reflection on his part) prevents an even-handed analysis of what they did, and more importantly of why they inspired so great a response. He analyzes public shaming largely in terms of unflattering theories of group psychology, which is unrewarding not solely because his treatment of them is haphazard-- I share his doubts about the Zimbardo experiment, but citing personal experience with a teething baby and a cramped cruise ship is certainly not a rebuttal of it-- but also because it ignores the larger factors at work in the shamings with which he deals.

At issue is less the nominal source of the shaming-- plagiarism and other journalistic sloppiness, a joke making light of AIDS and racism, a goofy photo taken at a military cemetery-- and more the larger frustrations for which the shaming provides an (often inappropriate) outlet. Ronson quotes a number of nasty tweets about Jonah Lehrer that were, in a remarkably ill-advised move, streamed in front of Lehrer during a public apology. Ronson's focus is on how bad this makes Lehrer feel; in one of many signs of an inability to be an evenhanded judge of scope and severity, he compares it to a public whipping. But what is striking about the tweets, once one gets past the nastiness we feel free to express about people we don't know, is that some of them criticize Lehrer not merely for his widely-publicized errors and failures of attribution, but also for writing glib, simplistic pop-psychology, trite work of which his specific failings were seen as symptomatic.

And for which, one might add, he was well-paid. Ronson mentions the controversy over Lehrher receiving $20,000 for that apology speech, and quotes Lehrer as defending it by saying that he hadn't earned any money in months and had bills to pay. Elsewhere in the book, he mentions Lehrer having purchased a house for 2.25 million dollars. The point here is not that wealthy people can't be worried about their bills, but that Lehrer had acquired a fine lifestyle with his fraudulent work, and that an apology that continued both the work and the compensation hinted Lehrer was not remorseful enough about his actions to feel they should have any consequences. That Lehrer was pushing a new book proposal a scant four months later is likewise suggestive. Ronson, driven by personal sympathy with Lehrer, takes the criticism of Lehrer as an overblown ruining of his life, never stopping to consider that Lehrer, who has a different new book coming out this year, had perhaps not been permanently ruined, and that the criticism of Lehrer was in fact fueled partly by an awareness that it would have little concrete effect.

Ronson is capable of acknowledging in generalities the way power disparities like this can fuel public shaming, but doesn't do enough thinking about how they shape the particular shamings about which he writes. He is endlessly sympathetic with Justine Sacco, whose Twitter joke about AIDS in Africa set off a short but vicious shaming that ended in her losing her job. The repeated declarations that she did nothing wrong may irk even those who feel that the response to her callous attempt at humor was greatly excessive, but the real problem is his failure to engage with the larger debate about dark humor and social issues into which the Sacco incident fits. Related concerns about social justice and inclusiveness are in play with the case of Adria Richards, whose tweet about men making crude jokes during a computer conference led to an Internet controversy and the firing from their respective jobs of Richards and one of the men. Ronson doesn't get into these larger issues, and is rather coldly uncomprehending (and unaware of what the ad hominem fallacy actually entails) when Richards tries to explain them to him during an interview.

I could go on like this, but I think the point has been made: Ronson doesn't really dig deep into anything, relying on instinctive responses and surface explanations. This makes for a book that is very readable and frequently entertaining; the second half, which moves from describing individual shamings to consideration of the wider role and utility of shame in social life, is less repetitive and rather more enjoyable. If you happen to agree with Ronson's take on everything he discusses, you may even find it insightful. For myself, I can't escape the feeling that what Ronson has produced here is, for such an important subject, the wrong kind of personally-inflected journalism: work in which the character and style of the author, rather than livening up a careful and balanced account, becomes the focus and the true subject. There's a fair amount of interesting and valuable information here, but the overall perspective is sorely lacking.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
vladimir tarasov
There are no answers in this book, which largely stems from the fact it contains no serious thought. Ronson offers up chapter after chapter of prurient anecdotes and fails meaningfully to get to grips with the mentality of public lynch mobs that descend upon people and destroy their lives over trivialities. The worst of these are the social justice warriors, who will joyfully revoke an individual's capacity to earn a living simply because they speak their minds about an issue and in doing so are seen to have transgressed against progressive pieties. The motivation in these instances would appear obvious. First and foremost, unreflecting moral narcissism, but more insidiously, the deliberate intent to instil fear in the wider community. A fear designed to quarantine ideological agendas from public discussion.

Citizens of Western democracies now live under the threat that anything they say or do, in public or private, can cost them their jobs and any prospect of future employment. There's no recourse for those targeted, nor much hope of a return to normality either based on the experiences outlined in the book. Ronson makes an effort to stand up to the mob at one point, but finding himself in the cross hairs as a result, sheepishly backs off and lets the victim be torn to pieces. As a left-wing journalist himself there's a fair amount of wilful blindness to the political asymmetry of Twitter lynchings. The vast majority of cases involve normal people honestly voicing their opinions and being ripped apart by progressive zealots who deem those views unacceptable. A more interesting question is why businesses consider themselves licenced to actively discriminate against those afflicted to the extent of virtually blacklisting them for employment across the entire country, and why the political class has abandoned freedom of thought, conscience and speech in the face of the authoritarian left.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alexa
This was an extremely entertaining and interesting read. And, of course, because of the age that we live in now, it also carried an excellent message. It's really easy to get sucked into the cycle of bullying people who make public mistakes on Twitter and Facebook because it makes us feel like we've got the moral high ground. But, we have to remember that everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. And shaming people online is a cruel and unusual form of punishment. We're only now beginning to see the kind of harm that it can do to a person.

I took off one star because I would have liked to have heard about more examples. It's a short, light read, but I think it could have been a bit longer. And I think that Jon Ronson had a wealth of other subjects to seek out for interviews. But, he's a good writer and it was a wholly entertaining read, none the less.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
steff
I found this book to be repetitive, unfocused, and lacking in any original insights. In addition, it contained a great deal of irrelevant details, and seemed to be little more than a medium for the author to indulge himself. I know that sounds harsh, but that's how the book affected me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jess johnson
This is a fairly well written book, but it fails to seem really relevant. So much of it is personal, and therefore hard to relate to. Nevertheless, it does focus on a new development of our times, of this internet age. It's a good opener for discussion of the subject, but I think more will need to be said, probably by other authors. It is worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
aunt
I think Ronson's arguments about the actual psychological and social damage of shame are powerful and important. However, several times during reading, i laughed. Out loud. And not at anything that was supposed to be funny.

For example, in a book about shaming, the author attributes the efficacy of those signs on the side of the road that tell you your speed to... feedback loops. He thinks the value is in showing YOU your speed, not in showing _everyone_around_you_. It's a shaming device, at least in part. And that's ignored.

Another one: after chapters and chapters and chapters of Jonah Lehrer observing that if he'd only fact-checked his book, he'd have saved himself a lot of trouble, Ronson gets Godwin's Law wrong. He cites a corollary of it as if it were the law itself. 15 seconds on wikipedia would have been enough to get that one right.

So... valuable insight, oddly shoddy writing and editing. Certainly very readable, and probably worthwhile, but it only escaped being thrown at the wall because i was reading it in a public place with innocent bystanders nearby.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nikki gourneau
I found this book to be repetitive, unfocused, and lacking in any original insights. In addition, it contained a great deal of irrelevant details, and seemed to be little more than a medium for the author to indulge himself. I know that sounds harsh, but that's how the book affected me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jackiemoryangmail com
This is a fairly well written book, but it fails to seem really relevant. So much of it is personal, and therefore hard to relate to. Nevertheless, it does focus on a new development of our times, of this internet age. It's a good opener for discussion of the subject, but I think more will need to be said, probably by other authors. It is worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
xatira
I think Ronson's arguments about the actual psychological and social damage of shame are powerful and important. However, several times during reading, i laughed. Out loud. And not at anything that was supposed to be funny.

For example, in a book about shaming, the author attributes the efficacy of those signs on the side of the road that tell you your speed to... feedback loops. He thinks the value is in showing YOU your speed, not in showing _everyone_around_you_. It's a shaming device, at least in part. And that's ignored.

Another one: after chapters and chapters and chapters of Jonah Lehrer observing that if he'd only fact-checked his book, he'd have saved himself a lot of trouble, Ronson gets Godwin's Law wrong. He cites a corollary of it as if it were the law itself. 15 seconds on wikipedia would have been enough to get that one right.

So... valuable insight, oddly shoddy writing and editing. Certainly very readable, and probably worthwhile, but it only escaped being thrown at the wall because i was reading it in a public place with innocent bystanders nearby.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lisa elizabeth
This book was of interest because I have done a great deal of social media for clients as well as myself over the last 8 years. I waited almost 4 months for it to come in through my e-library source. It was underwhelming. It was difficult to read, like treading uphill through mud in stiletto heels. In some cases, hard to follow who the author was talking about. Just not my cup of tea. I was expecting something different than a series of vignettes and trivia. I admit, I only made it through three chapters before returning it back to the e-library.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
xiaoshan sun
I was expecting psychological insight into the issue, but was disappointed. It was a chatty book lacking depth on the subject. It was far more about specific incidences, and particularly about the people involved and their meetings with the author, than about the topic as a whole. I didn't enjoy it or learn from it.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
suzanne
Ronson had a gem of an idea in writing a book about shame. But the book seems to be merely a personal reflection on the matter. I must say that I only read a few pages and absolutely could not tolerate the writing style, then I spent about an hour randomly reading other parts of the book.

What turned me off from the outset was the line on page 2, "Dreaming about cock." Yeah, potty-mouth in the 11th sentence of the book. I am certainly not offended by the profane (especially when it is integral to the story as this line is) but, come on, p.2?

What I found insulting was the rambling writing style reminiscent of typical high school students.

EXAMPLE:
"I think we feel annoyed with you," Dan continued, "because we're not quite persuaded by that. We think there's already a layer of artifice and it's your online personality - the brand Jon Ronson - you're trying to protect. Yean?" "NO, IT'S JUST ME TWEETING," I yelled. "The Internet is not the real world." said Dan. (p.6)

The majority of book is written in this style. Very little research into a topic that could be worthy of a dissertation. Lots of feelings, few facts, no analysis. Check out the the store "Look Inside" before you buy.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
shyam m
The author seems to be obsessed with people who have been shamed. He admitted to gleefully shaming people himself. The only person he seemed not to be able to forgive was Jonah. I think he was jealous of Jonah's past successes. As for the person he prided himself on 'saving' Lindsey Stone, he actually printed the photograph that thousands of dollars were spent to help vanish it from the web! Shame on him.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bill bitopoulos
I read a lot about shaming and it's relationship or lack of it, to guilt, and how guilt and shame operate in different cultures. My husband has done academic work on the topic. I was very intrigued by the title and premise of the book. Unfortunately after a delicious tease of a first page or so it deteriorated into endless
"Then I sez to him, I sez"
Then she sez to me, she sez"

I know you've all been trapped leaving church or at a party by someone like this. (discreet yawn)
Here's a job idea for Mr. Ronson - creating titles for other people's books. Guaranteed to at least double sales no matter what's inside.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
emmey
OMG,...how did this book get 4.5 stars? (that's the real shame). A cornucopia of blathering with no real point. Here's the synopsis of the book. READY? ; People feel shame! That's it. Shame for lying, cheating, steeling, breaking the law, etc. There's hope for humanity. That's it. IF you are interested in reading about the flaws of humans, and have time to waste, pick up this book. The Author trys TOO HARD to impress you with his complicated writing style and his use of 50cent words. Not impressed at all. The irony is, he criticizes 2 authors who have lied in their work when Ronson's crime is worse---Selling books with no point or meaning.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
najah farley
Ronson’s book, which interviews several people targeted by public shaming campaigns and attempts to make meaning of their experience, reaches an utter nadir of cluelessness in this regard. In a not-so-spirited attempt at being fair, he managed to make the vituperative harassment of technologist Adria Richards a “two-sided” affair. Richards, who posted to social media the pictures of two men making lewd jokes at the PyCon tech conference in 2013, was barraged by fusillade after fusillade of vicious online harassment that ultimately drove her from her home.
The publication of Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is the culmination of a recent trend: people of means and privilege engaged in well-remunerated shallow handwringing about “public shaming,” particularly through social media.

It joins a growing pantheon of articles that are distinguished by their one-dimensional treatment of a genuine social problem: Michelle Goldberg’s Nation essay on “Toxic Twitter Feminism” (full disclosure: I was interviewed for that piece) and Jonathan Chait’s recent effort in New York Magazine being two clear examples thereof.

What these works all have in common is that they attempted to address something that has exorcised radical activists for years: the mob mentality that grabs ahold of us when we use social media, where we lose ourselves in the censorious crowd eager to punish someone (almost always a single individual) who gave great offense. In other words, the screaming, directionless crowds on the internet who descend onto someone unlucky enough to get their attention.

What they also have in common is that they paid next to no attention to the complicated discourse that has emerged around what has come to be known as “call out culture,” and opted instead for easy scapegoats, false equivalences, and inexpertly mashing together often contradictory and unc​ited arguments.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
bernd
One of those people who thinks Internet viral phenomena are inherently bad. Never mind that, without the internet, the rapes at Steubenville and other atrocities would have gone unpunished. Even the examples he cites here, like the PR exec who made an obscenely racist tweet, got exactly what she deserved.

Sorry, no sympathy.
Please Rate So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015-03-09)
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