Non Fiction

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

you have been shamed

My boyfriend James likes to say rather sarcastically: “Good luck having Vera read something from one of your recommended authors”. Why? Well, I tend to possess the gift of ‘a zero attention span’. I get super excited about an author’s recommendation, and five seconds later, I forget all about it. Despite how much I would like to read something from that author and the fact that their books are added to my TBR list (which I tend to ignore completely these days).

Why am I telling you this?

About 6 years ago, James recommended Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test to me, telling me how brilliant Jon Ronson was and how much he enjoyed that book. I listened, got super excited … and still haven’t read that book to this day….

A few weeks ago, I happened to find out Jon Ronson wrote this book about shame. Shame is one of those topics I always want to know more of. My curiosity was immediately sparked, I had to read that book!

Well, I did. And I loved it and I promptly told James off for not telling me sooner how brilliant Jon Ronson was… true story. 😉

For those of you, who have recommended me authors or books so far: there is still hope that I may read them one day… it may be a convoluted and a long-winded process, but I may get there. Do not despair! 😉 And I do appreciate all of your recommendations, I promise. ❤️


Let’s have a look at what Goodreads’ says about this book first:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world’s most overlooked forces.

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming—meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted.  This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter—a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun to feel weird and empty when there isn’t anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What’s it doing to them? What’s it doing to us?

Ronson’s book is a powerful, funny, unique, and very humane dispatch from the frontline, in the escalating war on human nature and its flaws.


I listened to this book as an audiobook. It is narrated by the author himself. I enjoyed both Ronson’s musical Welsh accent as well as his narrative. If you enjoy listening to non-fiction podcasts, the audio version of this book may be a way to go.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed investigates, as the title suggests, public shaming. Shame is this corrosive feeling we may experience when we think we may just not be good enough. And we are worried that ‘they’ will find out one day. Public shaming is turning that fear of being found out, into a nightmare scenario of a roaring and upset crowd shouting at us ‘shame on you, what a terrible person you are’.

“We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside it.” 

Ronson’s book seriously played with my emotions. His curious and funny approach got him to meet people who, according to his words: ‘didn’t do that much wrong’. I could not stomach how torn apart those people got. Hearing about it was both chilling and utterly terrifying. Sadly, it was all believable as well. And I think that is what got me.

“There is nothing I dislike more in the world than people who care more about ideology than they do about people.” 

I personally enjoyed the first half of the book a little bit more than its latter part. That could have been me getting confused with names though. I do have a poor memory and perhaps reading this as a book, rather than listening to it,  would have helped me as I would have been able to reference names a bit better that way.

What I did enjoy was Ronson’s sharp writing style, his diverse spectre of cases as well as the thought provoking topic itself. I also appreciated Ronson sharing some of his own stories. And his use of humour sometimes helped, especially when thinking about such heavy topic as shame.

What’s Ronson’s answer to public shaming? I’ll let you read the book to find it. 😊

Recommended? Yes! It’s not a collection of boring facts but rather a vivid portrait of incidents that could have potentially happened to many of us.

20 thoughts on “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson”

  1. I too have a problem with recommendations. I always get excited and tell myself I’ll read them and never do. All it does is make my TBR bigger. But, I’m definitely interested in this book! I’m glad you liked it and found it interesting, it definitely sounds like something worth the read. I might check out the audiobook also because I love when authors read their own work. Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed this book. I think it’s that thought provoking concept of ‘it could have happened to me’ that really made me think about social media and crowd behaviour a slightly different way. I hope you enjoy it as well. 🍀

      And thank you! 😊💕

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your story about how you too get excited over a recomendation and, like so many of us, then promptly forget or ignore. My answer to this was to start a Wish List of books, which is 700 plus books long. I dip into it on occasion, but only rarely buy a title. I tend to get in the shop, find they don’t have the title and that’ll have to order, and say no, thanks! And buy something from off the shelves. 😳

    As for this one? Oh my, I think I’m going to have to start listening to books too, maybe that’s a better way to get around to ‘reading’ them! Ha! Ha!

    As to the topic, is public shaming new? No, not really, but, because, like everything surrounding the internet, it is now rampent and out of hand! 😔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, Wish List of books is merely for a reference, I absolutely understand that book shop behaviour as it’s somehow very familiar… I wonder why… 😉

      I actually never thought I would enjoy audiobooks. I only started listening to them recently (last month or so) and a whole new world opened up to me then. 🙂 I can listen to books when walking a dog, doing chores or feeling tired to read (warning: I have fallen asleep a few times though so proceed with care! 😀 ).

      100% agree. It’s not a new topic per se and Ronson explores its history a little bit as well. What’s interesting is when social media gives shaming a completely different voice. It’s scary. And it really got me. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think we all have that special wish list, as bookaholics, we are compelled to buy just as mush as we are compelled to read. ☺️

        Audio book warning duly noted. I really must try this particular form of reading, as it sounds advantageous in so many ways. Not that I wear my headphones in public, I am already a bad J-walker.

        And yes, it’s a shame on us all how badly behaved so many have become, common decency is no longer common at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m curious about that J-walking! 🙂

        Listening to an audiobook whilst cooking can work as well. The only problem can arise if you are prone to getting distracted.

        I sometimes completely forget what I have added into the meal so far and the outcome becomes rather ‘unpredictable’. Which is always fun I guess. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Now i feel honoured cuz you read what alice forgot 😂

    Onto this book. I’ve been eyeing it for a while but for me reading non fiction is always like “yea it’s nice but i could read fiction’. Lol. But it’s on the list 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, you should be! 😉 Thanks again for that recommendation. 🙂

      I get it. 😀 What worked for me was that it was told as a collection of stories. I love stories, dry facts usually bore me to sleep but give me a non fiction told as stories and I will happily pay attention. I get it though!! 😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While I’m not a fan of Bill Maher, I watched a clip of his show the other day. He was talking about how liberals think they “destroy” Republicans by tearing them down, mainly on Twitter. However, Republicans, he argues, are destroying things that actually matter. You get situations like what’s going on at the border with children being taken away from their parents, and walking back some LGBTQ rights. I think he may have a point: liberals are trying to shame people into behaving a certain way, but making very little change. Does it matter that Roseanne was cancelled in the big picture of things? I’m not so sure. If anything, I think liberals shaming people to the point of running their lives is fuel for conservative fires.

    Anyway, nice to meet you 🙂
    Twitter: @grabthelapels2
    Blog: grabthelapels.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are certain topics that do make my blood boil. Like what’s going on at the border with children being taken away from their parents. I get so upset hearing about that. And when I say upset, I am downplaying it a lot… But to your point, shaming does not work. I 100% agree with that. I think asking questions such as: ‘how can WE (all of us) fix it’ and ‘how can WE (all of us) prevent it from happening again’ are fundamental at instilling a positive and long-lasting change. Pointing fingers and congratulating ourselves for being ‘better’ than ‘them’ however ‘they’ are… that never works in the long term.

      I really recommend reading ‘Braving the Wilderness’ from Brene Brown. She talks about ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ a lot in it. It’s a fairly new and extremely relevant book. I think it may be of an interest as it’s talking in line with your thoughts. 🙂

      Nice to meet you too, appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me. 🙂

      Like

  5. Excellent review.
    This book has fascinated me for a while but I think it would also infuriate me because this mob mentality, these endless witch hunts and really on the Internet no responsibility it seems to me is only getting worse. I don’t know the specific cases in this book but I truly think at this point people don’t care in any circumstances. They don’t care about the individual- it’s a winning thing. I mean they’re have been cases of suicides and such due to on-line bullying and everyone just throws up their hands and moves on to the next “case” they can make right.
    As with most things I relate most to the book community but those same things are happening here. A blogger I knew once got death threats and harassment over an extended period of time because she dared to admit she had liked Me Before You more than she thought she would and it was a personal affront to them apparently. I remember another vlogger shaming and attacking people who said they would form their own opinions on a book about eating disorders as horrible people who should be ashamed and were, by not listening, directly hurting her. I didn’t mean to ramble 🙂 it’s an interesting and relevant topic though I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not a fun read, that’s for sure. I had to pause many times because it’s an extremely heavy topic and yes, people lost lives because of public shaming and hearing about it was highly upsetting at times. I found it fascinating because I am obsessed with human behaviour. I want to know why we do things we do. And hearing individual cases and their stories somehow satisfied that curiosity.

      Just wow re. those two examples! I have been thinking about my own experience with social media and it’s super interesting to ask myself a question of ‘what would I do if it happened to me’. Because I don’t know the answer to it. Would I stay my ground, apologise and move on? Would I crumble? I don’t know. All I know that the premise of something like that, possibly happening to any of us, is absolutely terrifying. Thanks for sharing those stories with me, really appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This sounds like a fascinating book! I’ve always felt so uncomfortable by how fever-pitched society’s outrage can get (people are sooo judgmental and unreasonable nowadays), so I think I’d really enjoy reading this one. When you said it was “chilling” how some people’s lives were ruined over a not-so-horrible mistake, it makes me a bit sad to think about it; because it’s true. :/

    So yeah, great review! I absolutely feel you on the recommendations thing; I usually let recommendations go spinning around my radar for a long time, then if the mood hits, I’ll likely read it half a decade later. No shame. *wink wink*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely not a light-hearted read. People’s lives got ruined, there were even some suicides involved. It’s utterly chilling. What really got me is that people in those crowds are not necessary ‘bad people’. You know, they felt outraged, got a bit carried away… and consequences of that are absolutely devastating. I really made me think a lot. I really appreciated that as I am obsessed with human behaviour (oh, that curiosity again!).

      Ha ha, I’m so happy I’m not the only one! ‘A moody reader’ is a label I happily bestow upon myself. 😉 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ha ha! I DEFINITELY have to read this book. MY problem is looking at so many blogs and saying “I’m DEFINITELY going to read it!” (and I mean it) but then, instead of going to goodreads and adding it to my (ever growing) TBR I go to the next post…. And wind up usually sayings “wow! I DEFINITELY need to read this!”…. And I promptly forget about morlst of them! 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So so so relatable! 😂😂😂👌I get so excited every time I read an interesting book review but then… 😂😂

      I am not holding you to reading this book by any means. I am still to read The Psychopaths Test by this author… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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