So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

by Jon Ronson

Shamed

 

Ronson’s book is certainly a timely arrival. I imagine that Brian Williams, Ben Affleck, and Britt McHenry placed early orders on Amazon. Shamed examines the repercussions of public humiliation, primarily via social media like Twitter, on several of its unfortunate targets.

Ronson’s conclusion is mostly anti-shaming, anti-mob mentality, but he doesn’t draw much of a distinction between a public dressing-down of the rich and powerful, and the same treatment aimed at the little guy. What can “destroy” — a word Ronson returns to repeatedly — a private citizen like Justine Sacco is probably no more than a nuisance to, for example, a Ben Affleck.  

Also, I think most of us would agree that Sacco’s life was negatively impacted when tweeters hammered her for an ill-advised AIDS joke. Among other things, she was fired from her public-relations job.  But was her life truly “destroyed”? I’m guessing that Hester Prynne would beg to differ.

 

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