So You've Been Publicly Shamed

  • by Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by Jon Ronson
  • 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the Sunday Times top ten bestselling 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.
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of two bestsellers, Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, and two collections, Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness and What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness. He lives in London.


Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, March - I'm new to Jon Ronson's writing, having only heard portions of his insta-classic The Psychopath Test. His latest book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, came highly recommended from a coworker, who sent over the manuscript. After being sucked in by the first few pages, I suddenly noticed I hadn't done any work in 45 minutes; clearly this was something special. In the book, Ronson highlights those who have been publicly shamed – a concept becoming more prevalent and more effective due to the rise in social media. I can't wait to listen to the whole thing in Ronson's own words, with his unique cadence and magnetic accent. —Chris, Audible Editor


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Play the (Shame) Game

Jon Ronson begins "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" (2015) with an introduction about how a spam bot hatched by supposedly ethical college professors hijacked his Twitter identity. His ethereal alter ego started living an exciting but fictitious life, going to clubs and presumably mentioning how much he'd enjoyed drinking fabulous drinks and eating scrumptious food the bot creators had been paid to promote. Ronson, a gonzo journalist and inspired researcher, was at his wits' end trying to figure out who was doing it and how to stop it.

Dictionary dot com defines "empathy" as "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." Ronson wasn't publicly shamed like the people he profiles, including Jonah Lehrer, a writer who made up Dylan quotes, and then lied to cover up his lies; Justine Sacco of the ill-conceived AIDS/South Africa tweet; and Lindsey Stone of the 'shouting into a cell phone while making a rude gesture at Arlington Cemetery' photo. Ronson's situation was a good way to ease those convinced that 'it can't happen to them' that it's possible to completely lose control of a digital life.

Ronson doesn't outright ask if the shamed "asked for it" but I think in the world of bullies, the bullied and bystanders, "asking for it" is a justification that everyone except the victim uses. I remember seeing that photo of Stone the first time it went around. Since I'm a veteran, I saw it a lot. I thought it was a joke then. It's a bad joke, a tasteless joke - but no kid should have her life ruined over an inept visual stunt. Did Stone deserve to have what must have felt like all 21.8 million American veterans condemning her? No, she did not - but it must be cold comfort for her that most of us knew it for what it was and just ignored it.

There is a portion of "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" discussing people who are aroused by being shamed. It was sexually explicit and somewhat graphic, and it might be difficult for parents to explain to kids who read or hear it. The section on shaming by four chan (not quite the organization's name, but that's close enough for an Audible review) has some pretty disturbing descriptions of fetishes. Four chan denizens are notorious for trolling, but what Ronson describes in "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" is trolling on steroids.

Ronson's writing style for a bit of the book - using the collective "we" to examine the collective consciousness of the righteously offended - reminded me a bit of William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily" (1930). Faulkner used the collective "we" for the voice of the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi. In that Southern Gothic story, the town goes to great lengths to avoid shaming Emily, and "So she vanquished them . . ." Ronson's about as subtle as a mobile phone store sign spinner and I'm probably drawing parallels that were never intended, but I liked the juxtaposition in attitudes on shame between small town American South in the early 20th Century and 21st century global urban life on line.

Ronson is Welsh, and his accent makes "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" a fun listen. I really liked that he described photos that were in the text version of the book.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

You'll never look at public shaming the same way

I expected this book to be a bit more light hearted, like a retrospective and sympathetic look at old memes like the Rebecca Blacks and Light Saber Ninja meme kids who the Internet turned into jokes. Instead Ronson takes the reader to the darkest levels of public shaming and forces us to see how we are all part of this modern epidemic of social media shaming. He focuses in on the way shame destroys people on such a fundamental level and how difficult it is to recover from being publicly shamed. My biggest complaint is probably the books length, I'm left wondering about so many people in the book and how their stores unfold, I also wish there were more explorations on shame as it effects physical wellbeing. Like all of Ronson's books it is a compilation of people's stories and experiences that are all centered around a single theme, but I feel in this instance there are so many more stories that could've been tied in. Regardless, I found it very intriguing, and entertaining (and I now feel ashamed for finding a book about shaming people entertaining...). Ronson's narration is fantastic as well.
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- Megan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-31-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios