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addabook - So You've Been Publicly Shamed
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So You've Been Publicly Shamed
Jon Ronson
read on December 1, 2016

Another very interesting Jon Ronson book. In this one, Ronson focuses on instances of public shaming, a bit of the history behind it, as well as the efficacy. The book isn't academic though. Similar to Them, Ronson makes his case anecdotally, following several high profile public shamings (several in real time, as he was writing the book), documenting the incident and response. Two of the highest profile stories are of Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco.

I think there were two core interesting ideas. First, why do crowds do this? What is it about a public shaming that almost feels good? How has it changed with technology (particularly social media)? While Ronson doesn't zero in on the why too much, the whole time I had Jared Diamond in my head, and how he hypothesized social reputation as a kind of zero sum game.

The second core idea was: once this occurs, what are the different responses to it, and consequences of each? Why was Jonah Leher buried, but scandalized businessmen sometimes are not?

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