So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Posted June 1, 2015 in Self-Insight, What We're Reading

By: Jon Ronson

Review by: Executive Roundtable Marketing Manager, Penny Clark

The Premise: Social media has put incredible power in the hands of the average person to challenge major corporations and engage them in a dialogue about change. Through Twitter campaigns and collective actions, we are able to have a direct dialogue with companies about the practices and actions we find unacceptable. But are we congnisant of this power? And when we are, what are we choosing to do with it?

We have largely chosen to use Twitter as a mechanism for publicly shaming individuals and Ronson examines exactly what that means within a historical and societal context. He admits he had assumed the practice of public shamings had been abandoned with the rise of urban communities and the anonyminity granted by them, but he learns that this type of punishment actually fell out of favour because it was deemed too cruel to the recipients and damaging to the characters of the participants– people were enjoying it too much.

Within the context of shame and public shaming, Jon Ronson explores all sides of social media, especially Twitter, and its incredible power to challenge powerful entities and destroy human lives.

The Bottom-line: This is a thoughtful, self-reflective, and compassionate piece. Ronson makes noticeable effort to explore the role of his own bias and personal voice in this essay and the result is a book that feel deeply honest and humane.

Ronson has pulled together an important book that manages to turn the lens on modern societal practices involving social media and avoids that laughable, ironic quality that often appears when we attempt to seriously examine our usages of social media.

Through his efforts toward transparency and clarity in his writing, Ronson is able to reveal many of truths related to social media that can be easy to gloss over and forces us to consider our own intentions behind our words, both within and outside of social media.

Roundtable Rating: A thought-provoking, cleanly written, and engaging study; mandatory reading for anyone who uses the internet.

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