So You've Been Publicly Shamed

So You've Been Publicly Shamed

by Jon Ronson Author

I should probably get it out of the way that Jon Ronson is my favorite author. His stirring mediations, objective analyses, and carefully considered conclusions feel like the journalistic work that I would be doing if my childhood had been more privileged, my dreams had been supported, and I had gone to college. Rather than regrets though, my lived experiences allow me to enjoy Ronson's work for its brilliance and beauty. While Them, his look at hanging out with a dozen extremists of various kinds after 9/11, was an incredibly balanced work that offered deeper perspective about things we don't get to hear much about, like The Bilderburg Group. This book takes his thinking and writing skills even further. Jon holds himself culpable as he criticizes the emergent culture on social media that leaps to attack a stranger before the evidence is on the table or sometimes even requested. He learns about himself when strangers create a Jon Ronson parody Twitter account. He takes a prolonged look at how the result of one bad joke can cost you your job, your friends, and your entire reputation. He examines the way that privilege can sometimes allow someone to recover from a public shaming and resume life as usual. And he evaluates how the distance between our self-image and the public's image of us allows for shaming to affect us. It's important to note that this book is as appropriately funny as it is clever and revealing. When Ronson works with Reputation.com to restore the future career of one young social worker, he simultaneously points out everything that is strange about the whole affair. Our culture rewards innocuous blandness and creating a new public persona for someone that has nothing shocking to say can restore credibility. At the same time, the man who seems to have suffered the least has a more interesting sex life than anyone I know so the book is fairly intriguing in its analysis. Most importantly, Ronson helps us take a more nuanced look at every situation without jumping to conclusions, which is something that would be good for all of us, whoever we are.