So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

October 3, 2019 § Leave a comment

First published in English in 2015

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I had loved The Psychopath Test. And so I have a number of books by Jon Ronson. The Men Who Stare At Goats is a popular one, but one that for some odd reason I’ve just been unable to finish. Then there’s Lost At Sea, which I’ve not yet started. And then, of course, there’s this book: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

It is an intriguing topic, public shaming. Especially in this world we live today where it has become so, so easy. All of us who have connection to the Internet have at least one social media network account. It could be YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… these are just the giants, and I’m pretty sure there are many more that I don’t know of.

Social media has made it possible for us to deliver our thoughts to the world about something happening in a completely different timezone, regardless of how or even whether or not that event impacts me in any way at all. The platforms are designed in such a way that hashtags (#) have made it easier to create and track trends. And if something someone said far far away manages to capture your attention, and perhaps create some resentment, it really doesn’t take that much effort at all to let the world know just how you feel about it. You don’t even have to lift your bum off the chair.

I had imagined this book to take this line of thought and roll with it. And perhaps it did, for a little while. But then it started diverging elsewhere, and I kind of got lost a little. Maybe I should have managed my expectations a little better—and I really should know better than to plug my own expectations onto a book.

In saying that, I ended up not loving the book in the way I had thought I would. And in my head, it does not rank up there with The Psychopath Test. But he had some very interesting stories to tell, some of which were perhaps more related to how we deal with shame, rather than the animal that public shaming is shaping out to be. And that’s all fine, actually. If I had started the book without any pre-conceived notions about what I thought the book might be about, then I would have very likely enjoyed the book far more than I did.

But that’s kind of what we do, isn’t it? We approach everything with our own versions of what we think something should be, and when it ends up not matching what we had imagined, it throws us off a little.

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