Sunday, June 19, 2016

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

I enjoy Ronson's writing style and his interviews. He interviewed on The Daily Show about this book and I immediately put it in my to-read list on Goodreads (over 1,000 books strong).

The internet is a hotbed of trolls who live for the anonymity of the world wide web so they can ruin lives on a lark. I've not participated in shamings online because they are stupid. After finishing this book, I'm more adamant that the people who set out to destroy other people for minor transgressions need to get a damn life. You want to shame Charles Manson? Go for it. But destroying someone who made an ill-timed or inappropriate joke? Ruining their life? Getting them fired? Pretending you are superior as you destroy them? Get a damn life.

Ronson has admitted that he has participated in shaming although, after writing the book, he does not engaged in shamings (as much). He interviews, over the course of many months, folks who have been publicly shamed and, in some cases, tries to help them repair some of the damage. I've only heard of one person, Justine Sacco, who made a (terrible) joke about AIDs and being white. That one showed up on my Facebook feed pretty often as it was happening. I remember reading the joke and just thinking "That was in bad taste" and moving on. But she was eviscerated online with some Twit(ter) even showing up at the airport to get a picture of her as she got off the plane and discovered what had happened.

The others in the book are authors who lied/plagiarized, a girl who posed for an inappropriate photo at Arlington Cemetery, and a guy at a tech conference who made a geek joke that was taken as sexually inappropriate by a female IT worker. That one got me. It's difficult being female in IT, sure, but she went guerrilla on this guy for a joke that I honestly would have laughed at. While he was fired from his job for this, she took a beating on the internet as well.

All in all, the internet is insanity. The worst of the worst come out to play and apparently don't realize, or they don't care, that people are human and humans make mistakes. One mistake, one bad joke, one tiny thing shouldn't destroy a person. But thanks to the internet and its trolls, it does.

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