I’d read a Jon Ronson book on psycopaths before after sister bought it for me, and quite enjoyed it although I felt as though I wanted Ronson to go into more depth. Ronson is a journalist and documentarian, his book ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ was made into a film with George Clooney, in 2004.
‘So You’ve Been Publically Shamed’ explores public shamings that take place through social media as a contemporary version of punishing crimes by making people stand in the stocks.
I suddenly feel with social media like I’m tiptoeing around an unpredictable, angry, unbalanced parent who might strike out at any moment…
He uses a few case studies of people that have been shamed like a woman who posted a photo sticking her finger up at the Arlington Memorial Sign, or a women who made a poorly worded joke about AIDs which was construed as racist. Millions of people shared and retweeted their transgressions and they both lost their jobs.
I’d never had the opportunity to be the object of hate before. The hard part isn’t the hate. It’s the object.
Ronson argues that the public shaming these women suffered was disproportional to the mistakes they made.
But notes that the people hounding them on twitter were actually trying to do the right thing, and do something good.
Now I thought back on the other recent social media shamings I’d enjoyed and felt proud of.
He also looks at methods of overcoming shame, including visited a S + M porn studio, a man that runs a course in how not to feel shame and expressing your feelings regardless of the consequences, and a company that bombards the internet with bland niceties about shame victims so the record of their tweets and photos disappear from the first few pages of Google search results.
It’s not really a manual for overcoing shame though as there are mixed results. It’s quite an interesting read although it didn’t really tell me much I didn’t already know.