So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed Book Summary - So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed Book explained in key points
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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed summary

Jon Ronson

How Our Mistakes Are Costlier And More Public Than Ever

4 (15 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

"So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson is a non-fiction book that explores the impact of public shaming in the age of social media. Ronson examines the psychological and societal effects of online shaming, using real-life examples to illustrate his points.

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    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
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    Public shaming has been a common punishment for centuries – and it’s seeing a renaissance in the online community.

    If you’ve ever seen one of Europe’s many medieval torture chambers, you were surely surprised to discover that, while many torture devices were indeed designed to inflict severe physical pain, others were designed with the express purpose of embarrassing and publicly humiliating their victims.

    Though they left much of their old lives behind, Europeans settling in the New World didn’t abandon the practice of public shaming.

    Indeed, public shaming was a common but dreaded punishment in North America during the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Puritan settlers, for example, had a penchant for punishing transgressors with public whippings. Newspapers of the time featured accounts of the whippings, relishing in the gruesome details, such as how violently the victim squirmed.

    For instance, in 1742, a married woman and her gallant were accused of adultery, and subsequently sentenced to lashes at the public whipping post. The woman, instead of asking not to be whipped at all, pleaded for a private whipping in order to spare her children the mortification.  

    Public shaming faced opposition in the North American colonies, and was eventually abolished.  

    Benjamin Rush, one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, called for the abolition of public shaming in 1787, on the tail of an already growing opposition to the practice. By 1839, public punishments were abolished in all states with the exception of Delaware.

    According to the author, opposition to public punishment wasn’t due to an observed ineffectiveness, but because it was perceived as especially brutal.

    Today, public shaming is experiencing a renaissance in global online communities. Seemingly small infractions, such as a silly yet tasteless Facebook photo posted by charity worker Lindsey Stone in 2012, elicit extreme public reactions.

    Her photo showed her pretending to shout and swear next to the “Silence and Respect” sign at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This trivial act brought forth an army of 30,000 people requesting her termination. Another 3,000 signed a petition demanding the same.

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    What is So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed about?

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (2015) looks into the terrifying nature of online public shaming. Tracing it back to its historical roots, the book details the motivations behind modern public shaming and offers tips on what to do if you find yourself at the center of a public shaming scandal.

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed Review

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (2015) by Jon Ronson is a thought-provoking exploration of the modern phenomenon of public shaming and its consequences. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Eye-opening: Ronson takes readers on a journey through real-life cases of public shaming, shedding light on the power dynamics and the impact it can have on individuals.
    • Humanizing: The book goes beyond the headlines, delving into the stories of those who have experienced public shaming, providing empathy and understanding.
    • Relevant: In a world where social media and online outrage are prevalent, this book raises important questions about the ethics and effects of public shaming.

    Best quote from So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

     It would seem strange that ignominy should ever have been adopted as a milder punishment than death. – Benjamin Rush

    —Jon Ronson
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    Who should read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

    • People astonished by the brutality of online public shamings
    • Psychology enthusiasts
    • Those wanting to learn about how technology affects our behavior

    About the Author

    Jon Ronson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker who has contributed to The Guardian, Time Out Magazine, BBC Television and Channel 4. He has written nine books, including the best-selling novel The Men Who Stare at Goats.

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    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed FAQs 

    What is the main message of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

    The main message of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is the lasting impact and consequences of online public shaming.

    How long does it take to read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

    The reading time for So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed varies. For a full read, it takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed a good book? Is it worth reading?

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is worth reading as it offers compelling insights into the consequences of online public shaming.

    Who is the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

    The author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Jon Ronson.

    What to read after So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

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