So You've Been Publicly Shamed
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Now a New York Times bestseller and from the author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame.
'It's about the terror, isn't it?'
'The terror of what?' I said.
'The terror of being found out.'
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws - and the very scary part we all play in it.
popularized the stop-and-frisk policy. When it was first implemented in the 1990s—it was known as broken-windows policing back then—Gladwell wrote a landmark New Yorker essay about it, “The Tipping Point.” He called it “miraculous.” There was a correlation between coming down heavy on petty criminals like graffiti artists and fare dodgers, his essay argued, and New York’s sudden decline in murders. “A strange and unprecedented transformation” was happening across New York City, Gladwell
apology, but it’s a lie.” Mike Daisey and I were sitting in a Brooklyn restaurant. He was a big man and he frequently dabbed the perspiration from his face with a handkerchief that was always within his reach. “It’s a lie because they don’t want an apology,” he said. “An apology is supposed to be a communion—a coming together. For someone to make an apology, someone has to be listening. They listen and you speak and there’s an exchange. That’s why we have a thing about accepting apologies.
this out about him. It seemed to be what was holding him together. But I think he read all this in my face, because he suddenly said: “The way we construct consciousness is to tell the story of ourselves to ourselves, the story of who we believe we are. I feel that a really public shaming or humiliation is a conflict between the person trying to write his own narrative and society trying to write a different narrative for the person. One story tries to overwrite the other. And so to survive
anxious at what might happen next. The stranger took a breath. “STUDY HARD AT MATH!” he yelled. There was a silence. “Okay,” the boy said. At this, the man walked over to me and sat down, pleased to have had the chance to positively motivate a child. His phone rang. “Sorry,” he mouthed. He picked it up. “DID YOU DO TEN STRONG POWERFULS LAST NIGHT?” he hollered at the receiver. “WORD OF HONOR? GOOD FOR YOU! LOVE YOU, BYE!” He put the phone down. Then he smiled, delighted that this was
translate science and show how beautiful it can be.” —KRISTIN STERLING, Columbia News, DECEMBER 2002 That interview was published on the occasion of the announcement that Jonah had been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford as a graduate student for two years. “Each year 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars,” according to the Rhodes Scholarship website, “chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to