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Publisher's Summary

From the Sunday Times top ten best-selling 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 jokes on social media that came out badly or made mistakes at work. Once their transgressions were revealed, collective outrage circled with the force of a hurricane, and the next thing they knew they were being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered, demonized, sometimes even fired from their jobs.

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 best sellers, 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.

This is an updated edition with new afterword, written and narrated by Jon Ronson.

©2015 Jon Ronson (P)2015 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A work of original, inspired journalism, it considers the complex dynamics between those who shame and those who are shamed, both of whom can become the focus of social media's grotesque, disproportionate judgments" (Financial Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Required Reading for Navigating Our Current Times

What did you love best about So You've Been Publicly Shamed?

This book was revelatory for me. Having loved Jon Ronson from This American Life and enjoyed his other books, I suspected that I would enjoy it, but I was surprised by how often I found myself worrying about, considering, and then reconsidering the ideas he presents here.

I feel like any fellow millennial who regularly participates in or witnesses acts of online public shaming without a second thought, and who champions the internet as a place that delivers justice where other systems can't, needs to read this book and become more aware of the real costs of that behaviour, and of the overall impact it has. I have recommended this book to many people and think that it makes some really important and compelling points about anonymity and the internet, about why people get so wrapped up in online finger pointing, and about both the power and consequences of that.

It says something when a book can get someone to rethink my own actions and opinions on something, and this one has stayed with me long after I listened.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating topic, great narration

Would you consider the audio edition of So You've Been Publicly Shamed to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version of this book, but Jon Ronson is such a great narrator I think you lose something by not listening to him voice his work.

Which character – as performed by Jon Ronson – was your favorite?

Jon Ronson as a character in his own books is very funny and engaging. He's definitely my favorite.

Any additional comments?

These days if you're not on Twitter, you probably feel like you should be. This book makes you think twice about how you should and can use the power that social media gives us all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I loved this audio book.

Where does So You've Been Publicly Shamed rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is my favourite audio book so far. Jon Ronson understands what an audio book should be and it's great that he does the reading.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gudrun
  • Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada
  • 01-16-18

I was hugely disappointed

I was expecting something that examined each shaming. As another reviewer said there was nothing you could not read on the internet. I felt that Ronson was tiring to tell me what to think rather than letting the reader form their own opinion.

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Great book on shaming in social media.

it's a great book on the world of social media. We use it every day for various reasons and we never think twice about the stories we read, the people that was impacted by the things we share. The horror that it may happen to us.

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  • Mycall
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • 11-30-17

Usual brilliance by JR

great nareation, perfect for listening to on a commute BC you can stop and pick it back up easily.

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thought provoking, intelligent, and empathetic

the world would be a better place of everyone would read this book. Jon Ronson touches on some very important issues which we should strongly consider using to effect change for a better future.

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Truly Eye opening

A must read for people who follow the evolution of modern technology

Also Jon Ronson has the voice of an angel

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Gripping Listen with Engaging Voice

This book was an interesting listen that allowed to me to gain insight into a side of the internet I rarely thought much about. Through its study of many different stories and analyse of the cause and effects of each, I have a deeper understanding of how shaming is prevalent in a world where we take things like the internet for granted. Overall an enthralling read

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Maybe get the print version.

Sorry, could not finish the audio book due to the author's voice being really difficult to listen to. Will give the printed version a try.

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  • Paul
  • 03-19-15

Gripping

There are really two elements to journalism: research and storytelling. The author has completely excelled at both in this spellbinding book. I was fascinated and will definitely be reading more of his books. He reads it himself, and does it very well. It is astonishing how an offhand tweet can ruin someone's life, or how what seems to me to be a fairly minor error in reporting a quotation can threaten a career. The author really gets beneath the issues around this, and even sneaks in a bit of (in my opinion completely justified) shaming himself.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul Matthews
  • 03-18-15

Engrossing and disturbing look at how we shame

Brilliantly read by the author, So You've Been Publicly Shamed is well worth a listen. On a par with Ronson's previous efforts we are treated to an in depth investigation of public shaming that grips to the very end.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Phil_Sainter
  • 03-18-15

Great piece of work

Highly recommend this book to anybody interested in the power of the people and social justice, and social media. a+

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 12-18-15

Pause before you post online!

I didn’t know what to expect from this book and hadn’t heard of the author, but I’m glad I down-loaded it as I found it most interesting and at times scarily thought-provoking. The author’s a good story-teller and he has certainly collected some extraordinary examples of shaming by social media. What I found disconcerting was the disparity between the supposed transgression and the ferocity of the reaction. A slightly ill-judged tweet or photo posted on Facebook can lead to a deluge of abusive language and even death threats. It’s depressing to think that there are hundreds of thousands of people so full of venom hiding under the cover of anonymity. There’s interesting material about research into crowd behaviour as a possible explanation.

The book isn’t just a catalogue of examples of online shaming but also describes historical examples of public ridicule and delves into the interesting question as to why some errors of judgement or bad behaviour are judged worthy of a public shaming whereas others are not and how what merits opprobrium has changed over the centuries.

A well researched book admirably narrated by the author.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Audrius
  • 04-03-15

Another great book

I really enjoyed listening to this book, and it is probably Ron's best book so far. I liked it very much and cannot recommend it enough.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Eoin
  • 04-09-15

A must read for online users

Decided not to review because having listening to the book I'm questioning my own motivation for reviewing.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 04-02-15

Thought provoking Jon Ronson style

A great read, more serious than other books of his I have listened to. However it's done with his usual dry wit. Its
Basically about public shaming the Twitter way which is one of those topics that I didn't have an opinion on before I read the book but I really should have.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 05-18-15

Who shall we destroy today?

I'm most afraid I'm one of those naive people who thought the Internet was overwhelmingly a force for good. What harm can there be in having the world's knowledge freely available and being able to communicate with a vast array of people, exposing wrongs and making wrongdoers accountable?

Jon Ronson begins this by recounting a time when his own Twitter identity is stolen as part of a dubious intellectual exercise thus putting his reputation at risk. He exposed the perpetrators on You Tube and received resounding support resulting in the exercise being terminated. He then gives instances where people have said outrageous things and have on the face of it been on the receiving end of a well deserved Internet backlash. The mood then changes when he gives accounts of people who's biggest crime is telling a poor joke or acting in a way that invites misinterpretation and the stories of how their lives have been destroyed are truly sobering. One of the examples made me squirm when my initial reaction was to despise one of the protagonists for seemingly over-reacting and harming another individual only to be on the receiving end of threats so vile and intense that it can never be seen as proper or proportionate justice. The Internet and social media has re-introduced the age old punishment of public shaming and there are plenty of keyboard warriors out there who are more than happy to actively participate in the spectacle of abusing people in the virtual stocks.

The Internet will continue to fascinate and this is a brilliant account of appalling behaviour, how online identities can be manipulated so the bad stuff gets buried, and how much money is earned from increased Internet traffic. It also increased my growing suspicion that the results of my Internet search are not as reliable as the good old Encyclopedia Britannica.

Jon always presents his material in a very engaging way and I remain a fan after listening to this.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • leemsey
  • 04-03-15

Nice one Jon

Makes me feel like never commenting online again...ooops..too late!

Superb, as expected! Always love audiobooks when the author reads them.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 03-28-15

Really interesting

I have loved all of Jon Ronson's previous books and this didn't let me down. Heavier subject matter than some and after the first few chapters I thought I wouldn't enjoy it as much because of this but continued and really glad I did. Would definitely recommend!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Samantha
  • 05-28-15

Ronson's surprisingly soothing voice

Despite the, necessarily, expletive-laden nature of this book, Ronson's voice is still an enormous pull for this incredibly important piece of journalism.

The ability to backtrack, to return from making very public mistakes is diminishing, and Ronson uses his usual considerable charm and journalistic skill to explore the whys and wherefores of internet shaming. Great reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • K. Ryan
  • 12-10-15

Quite the experience

This is what it must feel like to live in a basement for the past 10 years, and then someone hands you a flashlight and you can REALLY see what's down here.

A very thought-provoking piece of work, and often nightmarish. It almost makes me want to delete my twitter account, for fear I'll become part of the monster and shame somebody.

Yeah, great listen. Totally recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cecilia Flynn
  • 05-23-16

Entertaining and insightful

It's a great insight into how social media and people behaviours affect the life of others. Loved it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 05-22-16

Excellent

Essential reading for those even tangentially involved with social media. Riveting and well read by the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam Still Reading
  • 09-19-15

Not for me, but a sound tale for the internet era

After reading an article in a newspaper about this book and how public shaming has made a comeback via social media, I decided that this would be a perfect audiobook. I quite like listening to non-fiction (when reading non-fiction, I often need a fiction read on the go for escapism purposes). I can’t say I loved this book though – to me, it was uneven, spending a long time on some topics and a too short a time on others. The book is narrated by Jon Ronson himself. While it was interesting to have him read his own work, at times his voice lacked the power to keep me listening intently.

I’m kind of worried about publishing this review in case I should be publicly shamed or ridiculed but that’s the chance we all take when we share things with virtual strangers, people we know from pre-school and your cousin’s friend’s sister’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly the world has become a much smaller place and everything on social media is there to be judged by others. Ronson starts with his name being taken over by a Tweetbot who likes strange food combinations. He feels like someone has taken his identity and he goes to reason with the perpetrators who see no issue with it. Ronson then goes on to discuss things with those who have been publicly shamed online, such as Jonah Lehrer (who invented/changes some lines in his book that were attributed to Bob Dylan), Justine Sacco (the infamous ‘hope I don’t get AIDS’ tweet which went viral while she was on a plane) and Lindsey Stone (photo next to a sign at a war cemetery saying ‘silence and respect’ while she’s doing the opposite). He interviews the person who was shamed and also if possible those who did/were involved in the outing.

It’s an interesting philosophy to see what those who shared the picture/retweeted the tweet have to say as is the shamed person’s reason for doing what they did. Pre internet, these photos and messages would have only been shared with a few people. Now everyone is the judge. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of most of the shamed people Ronson interviewed (most of this must explode on social media while I’m asleep) and those that ‘broke’ while I was online, I didn’t really follow. I actually thought Jonah Lehrer was ‘Joan Alhera’ or ‘Joe Nalhera’ for most of the audiobook. Ronson discusses with them how their life changed and how/if it getting back to normal. Justine Sacco went to volunteer in Africa. Lindsey Stone was aided by some digital media people to push down her results on Google by adding new blog posts.

The ending of the book is quite open. It didn’t really summarise or ask how (or if) public shaming can be controlled in the modern world. I felt it was a bit weak, more like a series of vignettes of people who had been shamed rather than examining human behaviour in general. Sure, Ronson does include some psychology in this field (like why you keep driving under the speed limit after one of those ‘Your speed is…’ signs) but it would have been good to include a deeper analysis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • DC
  • 09-08-15

Brilliant and potentially tweet changing book

Have a listen and think about the new social democracy we live it. Is public shaming right? What are the consequences for the person shamed and for us as a society.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-25-15

Unashamedly candid look at public shaming

Great listen. Couldn't stop listening and rolled through in a day. So much detail that I will be back to it again I'm sure. So much food for thought...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alex
  • 03-25-15

Brilliant thesis

This was for me (a Luddite!) truly fascinating! What an enormous task For Jon to wind a thread from beginning to the final conclusion, all the way through maintaining an open based enquiry and pulling in supportive references from the individuals experience to cultural! I loved it but will need to listen again as I listen while multitasking- felt I needed to take notes! 2nd book of Jon's I've read n so to hear him read this was really

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Erik
  • 08-02-17

tremendously insightful

tremendous insight into the psychological causes and effects of public shaming, historically and presently. jon ronson's voice is extremely charming and i seem to be narrating my day with his voice in my head. the wit is dry and the subject poignant.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-27-17

thought provoking

nice short sharp read. Moral of the story, get off twitter and talk to people in person!