Thursday, June 04, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Public Humiliation 2.0


So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (152.44 Ronson)

In Western culture today, we've done away with the pillories, the tarring and feathering, and the badges of shame of our puritanical past... or have we?

In his latest book, Jon Ronson ponders whether public shaming has been taken to a whole new level with the abundance, anonymity, and groupthink phenomenon present in today's digital culture.  He traces the various ways subjects of viral social media shamings -- such as disgraced pop-science author Jonah Lehrer and offensive joke-tweeting Justine Sacco, to name a few -- have dealt with their very public humiliations, and asks whether our online taste for blood might have some negative consequences in a society that supposedly celebrates free expression and non-conformity.

Have you ever begun to share something on Facebook, only to be overcome with a sudden feeling of dread that it might be taken the wrong way, or are you one of the fearless who tweet with abandon, with little worry for who might be offended?  Are you quick to call out others on social media sites for the slightest infringement, or been the victim of online trolls?  This book will draw you in and make you more aware of the ways in which public shaming is still very much a cornerstone of our democratic moral identity, for better or worse.

I was amazed reading this book at the entire business of "reputation management."  Companies exist who, for a large fee, will give your online persona a makeover through publishing fake positive content online in your voice, thereby driving whatever's online that you might want to hide down in the search results.  And now I'm going to type my own name into Google and prepare for the worst....

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