You’re Being Judged … Right Now

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

By Jon Ronson

Perhaps some people should continue to confine their vitriolic monologues to their heads, but most people when they slip up they do so for innocent reasons. Cases in point Justine Sacco and her tasteless joke and Lindsey Stone and her thoughtless photo. (If you’re interested, you can easily find them online, as the ethers never forget.)

Not crimes or pernicious by intent; yet these women each paid terrible psychological and financial prices for their flippant behavior. Who punished them? A modern mob of faceless internet posters.

These women’s fates would make anybody who cares a bit about their reputations and their livelihoods think twice about saying anything someone in a dark room might construe as offensive.

Ronson focuses, for the most part, on the act of shaming, how it damages those shamed, and how to recover from an incident. He also shows there’s nothing new about public shaming; that public humiliation as a form of punishment reaches back to American colonial times. Of course now people can be shamed before the entire world to the point where they might never escape the consequences. He tosses around research during his excursion through the modern world of shaming, as well as possible remedies.

The real shame here is that a book like this is necessary. But it is, at least to raise your own personal awareness. Particularly recommended for those under the notion the internet is a playground free of bullies and to those tempted to lambast someone, to see just how damaging impulsively venting on someone can be. The message: stop and think before you act, just as you would if face-to-face with a person. w/c


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