So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
In this book, journalist Jon Ronson explores the concept of shame and the way it is wielded as a weapon of social control. He begins with a story in which he was the person heaping online shame on some men who impersonated him on Twitter, and who had strange academic-sounding justifications for doing it. But he spends most of his time telling the stories of several people who have been publicly shamed on the internet, most notably Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco, the woman who made the tasteless AIDS joke on Twitter while boarding a plane to Africa. This allows him to show both sides of the issue, to explore how satisfying it can be to shame someone we feel deserves it, and the devastating consequences for the victims. The conclusion seems to be that shaming destroys lives without reforming them, and the satisfaction of participating in an online pile-on isn’t worth the bad karma. It’s a fascinating topic, and one worth learning about for anyone who has felt profound shame or feared others’ shaming reactions.