Changing Dimensions of Public Shame, explores Jon Ronson's New Book




Thursday, April 2, 2015

I read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test in 2012. Actually I came to know about the book in Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. To sum up, the book tells us that it's not easy to spot Psychopaths. Even your Boss can be a Psychopath. Actually the entire premise of the book is that top achievers are often psychopaths, that's they don't have much concern for other person's feelings (Does that apply to your Boss too?).

Jokes apart, the book was good, although I will not call it brilliant; simply because it tries to establish something. That's the World is full of psychopaths in various disguises. My argument is: Some kind of apathy can be blamed on most of us.

That said, the charm of Jon Ronson and his wife Elaine Patterson comes from the fact that the two are very brainy, academic like. Elaine Patterson is beauty with brains personified. This means she can be really nasty as well, if rubbed the wrong way.

Ronson's new book 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed’ has got released. It looks into the aspect of public shame. To what extent public shame has intensified today, or has it decreased compared to two centuries ago, when someone committing some crime or believed to have committed some crime was not only mutilated in public, but also hurled with all sorts of insults and abuses, that too at Village or City Centre. You can compare it with people shaming someone today at Times Square.

Ronson's new book says that public shame has not ceased in any way today. Only thing is, the shaming instruments and the extent of shame (geographically) has increased. We are not throwing rotten tomatoes at our disgraced neighbors; we are using other tools to cause the same effect.

We got to know that internet and its real time social dimension takes much space in the book. This is natural, as one needs at least two entities to present a comparative picture of something. Public shame included. Since Ronson investigates the history of  public shame right from the 18th-century to 2014, hence it's important to include online social networks in the mix. After all much of Social gossip and opinion exchange is shifting to these platforms.

From the look of it, it appear that Ronson has a view that today we are seeing the great renaissance of public shaming, where we are questioning the very edifice of what constitutes public shame and what tools we are using to strengthening or weakening it. Do we need to change our views on what should be publicly criticised? What kind of lingo is acceptable today? Has Social media made it easy to term everything and anything racist and offending? Are talented people losing their jobs, simply because they said something on Twitter in some light hearted moment, only to become a villain the world over the very next hour and then losing the job the very next day? The book appears to ask such questions as well.

The book is being called provocative, which it appears to be. Only reading will tell how interesting and provocative it is.

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