Thanks to our vacation last week, I’ve able to read quite a bit lately. And thanks to my sister, I’ve had a good book to read! Alison recommended So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson awhile ago, and as usual, after reading it I am now regretting not getting to it sooner!
This book is a departure from my usual fiction features. In it, Ronson dives into the act of public shaming that is becoming more prolific than ever thanks to the advent of social media and the Internet. He weaves the history of public shaming into the novel – practices such as the stocks and pillory – and also dives into several case studies and current events that show this act on full display. He also looks at psychological experiments, such as the Zimbardo prison experiment, in light of shame and the role that it plays on human psyche. Ronson also manages to make technical information interesting, looking at how much Google makes per search, how results are generated, and what it takes (how much it costs) to “bury” a viral shaming incident in the search engines.
Some of the most prominent cases he features are those of Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco, both having experienced a mass public shaming in the last five years. Part of what makes his story so interesting is that it analyzes an act that I witness every day as a social media user. We’ve all been privy to a public shaming whether we realize it or not, and looking at how this affects the victims and our culture was extremely interesting and thought-provoking for me.
For a non-fiction book, it is a quick read. The way it is broken up makes it easy to pick up whenever you feel like it and not have to worry about where you left off. In other words, it was perfect for a vacation! If you’re looking for something a little more stimulating and real life, day-to-day applicable than fiction novels, I would love for you to read this book…and then tell me you have, so we can discuss it, of course! 🙂
Rating: 4/5 stars
Stats: 304 pages
Recommended for: Anyone with an interest in human psychology and social trends. I think we can all learn more about ourselves and how our actions deeply affect those around us from this book, and it is especially thought-provoking if you are a social media user.
Up Next: I think I’m going to take a stab at Far From the Madding Crowd. I usually try to tackle at least one or two classics during the summer months, and after seeing a great trailer for the movie version of this book, I decided it’s high time I get on it!