So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
With the whole Holly Jones/Killroys story still unfolding over public media and right here in Indianapolis, I figured this is a prime time to review a book I read a few months back called So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. The author, Jon Ronson was motivated to research the topic and write this book when he became the victim of a public shaming that he did nothing to deserve. Some university students created a spambot/AI that they chose to take on the identity of Ronson. It created public media profiles using his name and picture, and started tweeting things that did not represent the thoughts of the real Jon Ronson.
As he fought his own battle with public shaming that this spambot was bringing onto him, he started to get interested in others who had gone through the same thing. Ronson tracks down and interviews a handful of people that have been publicly shamed to do the one thing no one ever really thinks to do. He wanted to know what life was like in the aftermath of an event like this.
Without going into spoilers, it’s almost never pretty. In most cases, the punishment does not fit the “crime” for these people, and is extremely harsher than it should be. Ronson looks at history and science to find that public shaming was deemed so harsh in the 18th and 19th centuries, that the practice was abandoned.
Social media has brought the practice back, and along with it, the absolute worst in humanity. Current public shaming has such a far reach that it destroys people’s lives. For making an insensitive comment on Twitter, or leaving a self-centered review on Facebook in the case of Holly Jones, life will never be the same for people in these situations. If you really think about it, that’s not right. Yes, these people deserve a bit of humbling, but not from a world-wide mob. That’s simply too much for what they have done.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed opened my eyes to this reality. I have jumped on bandwagons before, joining an online mob to give someone I’ve never met a piece of my mind. I try to think twice about it now, realizing that one harsh action does not deserve another. I caught myself re-posting the story about Holly Jones, and felt a bit embarrassed about it. I highly recommend giving this book a read. I didn’t get what I expected out of it, but I think it opened my eyes to some much important things instead.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is available at your favorite book store/web site that sells books.