From the author of The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea, Jon Ronson is back with his latest book exploring those who have been publicly shamed – and the ones who shamed them. With some focus on the higher-profile shamings like Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco, Ronson takes a look at the psychology of it all, from all directions. The act of public shaming and its effects on not only the one being shamed, but the one doing the shaming.
This was my first Jon Ronson book that I’ve read, and I absolutely enjoyed it. He takes an incredibly relevant & timely topic and reveals an informative, and humourous, take on it. He discusses how “the silent are getting a voice” by way of the internet, and so collectively they can take social justice in their own hands. I found Ronson’s exploration into the habits of both himself and the collective internet world out there to be fascinating. The book starts off with two well-known cases of public shaming from the recent past and it sets the narrative on a good pace. At some parts in the middle-to-end, I found it a bit slower or – I guess – less relatable so I didn’t feel as invested in that part of the book.
I loved that Ronson gave the shamees a chance to share their side of the story. I feel that, among the other points in the book, this may be one of the most important parts. Showing people what the repercussions of their actions have done to these people – whether warranted or not – is integral in driving the point home that there are real people behind the twitter accounts. It was interesting to see the findings and observations that the vitriol can lean towards the misogynistic side. Where women who have wronged get a lot of more violent physical & sexual assault threats whereas the men get more calls for, say, their job dismissal.
Thanks to the social media world now, I’m sure many will have witnessed, or been a part of, some Twitter drama or another. After reading this book, it’s definitely given me pause. I wish that everyone could read this book. It’s a reality check that while some may think they’re doing something good by calling out some transgression, they may not take into account the receiving end of that. Social media can do a lot of good, but it can also do a lot of bad as well if we aren’t careful.