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So You've Been Publicly Shamed Hardcover – 31 Mar 2015
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"Gutsy and smart. Without losing any of the clever agility that makes his books so winning, he has taken on truly consequential material and risen to the challenge....fascinating...shocking...Mr. Ronson's gift for detail-picking is, as ever, a treat." -The New York Times
"A sharp-eyed and often hilarious book...Jon Ronson has written a fresh, big-hearted take on an important and timely topic. He has nothing to be ashamed of." -NPR.org
"This is a wonderful book." -Jon Stewart "This book really needed to be written." -Salon.com "Required reading for the internet age." - Entertainment Weekly "With an introspective and often funny lens, [Ronson] tracks down those whose blunders have exploded in the public eye...So You've Been Publicly Shamed is an insightful, well-researched, and important text about how we react to others' poor decisions." -The Huffington Post
"Personable and empathetic, Ronson is an entertaining guide to the odd corners of the shame-o-sphere." -The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"It's sharply observed, amusingly told, and, while its conclusions may stop just short of profound, the true pleasure of the book lies in arriving at those conclusions."
-The Onion "Like all of Ronson's books, this one is hard to put down, but you will absolutely do so at some point to Google yourself." -TheMillions.com "An irresistibly gossipy cocktail with a chaser of guilt." -Newsday "With So You've Been Publicly Shamed Ronson has written a timely, interesting and titillating read for any Internet drama junkie." -PopMatters.com "[A] simultaneously lightweight and necessary book." -Esquire "A work of original, inspired journalism, it considers thecomplex dynamics between those who shame and those who are shamed, both of whom can become the focus ofsocial media's grotesque, disproportionate judgments." -The Financial Times
"[So You've Been Publicly Shamed] is both entertaining and fair -- a balance we could use a lot more of, online and off." -Vulture "Ronson is an entertaining and provocative writer, with a broad reach ...[So You've Been Publicly Shamed] is a well-reported, entertainingly written account of an important subject." -The Oregonian
"Ronson is a fun writer to read...fascinating." -Fast Company
"I was mesmerized. And I was also disturbed." -Forbes
"[So You've Been Publicly Shamed] promises to be the most relevant book of the year." -FlavorWire
"I was sickly fascinated by the book. I think it's Ronson's best book." -Mark Frauenfelder for BoingBoing "With confidence, verve, and empathy, Ronson skillfully informs and engages the reader without excusing those caught up in the shame game. As he stresses, we are the ones wielding this incredible power over others' lives, often with no regard for the lasting consequences of our actions." -Starred Booklist Review "Clever and thought-provoking, this book has the potential to open an important dialogue about faux moral posturing online and its potentially disastrous consequences." -Publishers Weekly
"Relentlessly entertaining and thought-provoking." -The Guardian
"Certainly, no reader could finish it without feeling a need to be gentler online, to defer judgment, not to press the retweet button, to resist that primal impulse to stoke the fires of shame." -The Times
"Excruciating, un-put-downable...So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a gripping read, packed with humor and compassion and Ronson's characteristic linguistic juggling of the poignant and the absurd." -Chapter16.org "A powerful and rewarding read, a book utterly of the moment."--The Hamilton Spectator
"Ronson is a lovely, fluid writer, and he has a keen eye for painful, telling details." --The Bloomberg View "Fascinating and trenchant." -The Denver Post "[Ronson] is one of our most important modern day thinkers...[So You've Been Publicly Shamed] is one of the most therapeutic books imaginable." - US News & Word Report "Personable and empathetic, Ronson is an entertaining guide to the odd corners of the shame-o-sphere." -The Houston Chronicle
"[A] satirical Malcolm Gladwell... an accessible, fun read." - Everyday Ebook "We love Jon Ronson. He's thoughtful and very funny. [So You've Been Publicly Shamed] is a great book about the way the internet can gang up on people and shame them, when they deserve it, when they don't deserve it and it's great." - Judd Apatow "Jon Ronson is unreal. So You've Been Publicly Shamed -everyone should read that book. He's one of my favorite human beings." - Bill Hader "[A] brilliant, thought-provoking book - a fascinating examination of citizen justice, which has enjoyed a great renaissance since the advent of the internet." - Tatler
"A terrifying and keen insight into a new form of misguided mass hysteria." - Jesse Eisenberg "A fascinating exploration of modern media and public shaming... It's a great conversation starter. Is Twitter the new Salem Witch trials?"- Reese Witherspoon
About the Author
Jon Ronson's books include the New York Times bestsellers The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, and international bestsellers Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats. He also cowrote the screenplay for Frank, which will be released in theaters August 2014, and which stars Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Ronson is a regular contributor to This American Life and lives in London and New York City.
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The books shows us how a thoughtless sentence, a careless statement or a moment of just not thinking before you hit the keyboard can lead to both famous and unknown people getting ripped apart online. It also offers us 'real world' cases of attempted shaming that didn't go as expected such as Max Mosley taking a national newspaper to court for claiming his sadomasochistic sex session with 3 sex workers in uniforms was a 'Nazi' reenactment - Mosley didn't care who knew about his sex life but refused (due to his infamous father Oswald Mosley) to have any association with the Nazis.
There's a lot to think about in here. Several times the author suggests that the only way to survive in the modern world is to be totally bland and unnoticeable. At a time when the so-called 'Leader of the Free World' takes to Twitter like a scorned teenager with no behavioural 'filters', this book shows us the importance now, more than ever, of thinking before we speak/tweet/write, and of our responsibility to manage our online and real world reputations.
In this very readable book, Jon Ronson interviews people who have been publicly shamed or, in the case of a teenaged girl who committed suicide, a close relative.
Not all public shaming takes place online. The girl just mentioned felt very humiliated during the trial of the boy who raped her. (I remember reading about this at the time.)
In fact, although the book is readable, it is also very uncomfortable to read. And what makes it even more uncomfortable is the realisation that when you 'call someone out' online as the current jargon has it, you could be the instigator, or one of the participants of, a process in which someone is tried and found guilty by 'the mob' -- sometimes without their even being aware of it at the time. You may object to being labelled as one of a mob, especially if you have only three followers on Twitter. But as Ronson says: "The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche".
Ronson is a very good writer, in that he brings some humour and humility to the subject matter. He also manages to end each chapter on a cliffhanger -- which is quite annoying if you need to get other things done!
There is just one area in which I think Ronson is not forceful enough. He says:
"unpleasant as it will surely be for you, when you see an unfair or an ambiguous shaming unfold, speak up on behalf of the shamed person. A babble of opposing voices – that’s democracy."
It's a natural human instinct, I think, to wish to 'stand up for' someone, but there are two other considerations as well. In my opinion, standing by while someone is accused, tried, found guilty and punished sullies the online community. I know of a couple of online forums in which people are pounced upon for no other reason than expressing a contrary view to the majority. It's impossible to have an intellectual or even a merely intelligent discussion in such a negatively febrile atmosphere.
But even if one were to be completely self-centred in such matters, if you don't support some hapless victim, who do you think will support you when it's your turn? And have no doubt: probably one day it WILL be your turn.
The insights into Justine Sacco in particular are fascinating - a woman who made a stupid joke to a tiny audience, and had her life systematically dismantled as a result. I find that particular section chilling, because almost every day online I will make jokes that make hers look like the kind of somber, respectful, deeply appropriate comment one might give to a grieving widow at a friend's funeral. My only defence against a similar mass shaming is that I choose my audiences carefully, making sure they're comprised of people who will understand the context of the joke, and construct different personas depending on how broad my audience will be. That's an unfortunate state to be in, when even the anonymous must constantly fret about reputation management just in case the wider, ravenous public decide that you're the next meal to be savoured.
Very much recommended.
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