Reviewer: JJ Marsh
What we thought: One of those books you really want to talk about. With earnest persistence and a certain amount personal involvement, Ronson observes the renaissance of public shaming. Gone are the stocks and whippings of previous centuries, to be replaced by social media. In particular, Twitter.
Using case studies such as Jonah Lehrer, Justine Sacco, Max Mosley and a myriad of flash-in-the-pan (for us) scandals, he demonstrates how mob justice can be disproportionate, abusive and ruin lives.
With his humble-bumble Louis Theroux-style investigative techniques, he inveigles his way closer to the shamed. His curiosity may not be prurient, but he knows ours is. He enquires as to why we tend to gleefully pile in when someone who’s down and whether we all have the bullying chip. He asks if men can ride out sex scandals while women, regardless of their offence, are ritually subjected to rape threats. He tackles the question of deep-seated shame as a root cause of violent behaviour and if radical honesty is likely to get you arrested. He ends with a sobering conclusion – does public shaming have anything to do with public accountability or is it more to do with reinforcing the individual’s limited world view? Via a cast of real people quoted in their own words, he adds a slyly entertaining subtext to the subject.
This is an excellent read with much to ponder.
You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson, The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux, Confessions of a Sociopath by ME Thomas
Avoid if you dislike: Social media, psychology, sociology, detail of abusive tweets
Ideal accompaniments: Sushi with ginger and wasabi, a Tom Collins and Walking on Thin Ice by Yoko Ono (Pet Shop Boys Remix)
Available from Amazon