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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is the explosive new release from Sunday Times best-selling author of The Psychopath Test and well-known journalist Jon Ronson, who narrates this complete and unabridged audiobook. Ronson gives an enlightening exploration of public shaming on social media. These people are not always a star-studded cast of interviewees but often ordinary people thrown unwittingly into the spotlight. Ronson expertly explores the psychology behind the human fear of shame. This is captivating listening that goes to the very heart of what it means to be shamed. Available now from Audible.

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 listeners say about So You've Been Publicly Shamed

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  • Samantha
  • 17-07-16

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.

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  • Nancy in Norway
  • 20-03-16

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.

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  • Karen v.
  • 14-01-16

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-20

Excellent book!

Great book, well-researched and narrated. Deeply relevant to contemporary society. Enjoyed listening to it a lot.

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  • Jessica Cole
  • 17-06-20

A great investigation and self reflection

I love listening to Jon Ronson's voice and I find his story-telling engaging. This is an interesting examination into our love of public shaming and the affects on people's lives and the whole of society.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-05-20

loved it

Very interesting and great to listen to. I started by using it in the background as I played games but later stopped playing games to focus on what was being said.

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  • The Saint
  • 10-01-19

Unsocial Media

This should be high on the list of anyone, young or older, using social media such as Twitter or FB to speak to the world or 'privately' to friends. Listen carefully, fashion your own communication ethic, and prepare to be misunderstood and possibly shamed with consequences. Reactions can be fair or unfair, deserved or not. You don't get to choose. User beware.

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  • Sunny
  • 18-08-18

A close examination of internet lynchings

A unique perspective through interviews and personal experience. Jon Ronson's background as a journalist shines as he delves into the world of internet lynchings, where the crowds are capricious and one is guilty before (and sometimes despite) being proven innocent

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  • Steven
  • 02-08-18

fantastic, chilling

jon ronson takes a hard look at the sometimes disturbing effects that social media shaming has on the recipients of it. as good as it feels for us to take part in, we should all read this

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  • Audible listener
  • 18-07-18

A thoughtful look at the internet mob culture

Through case studies, Jon Ronson takes a critical look at how we behave as a group online. It’s uncomfortable to confront the fact that people who made mistakes can have their career destroyed in a matter of hours.
He made us question who was in the right, the wrong, both, or neither.

I believe it’s a must read for all of us who are living in the internet culture.

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  • Paul
  • 19-03-15

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.

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  • Kirstine
  • 18-12-15

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.

33 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 02-04-15

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.

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  • johanna lloyd
  • 16-05-18

Everyone should read this book

For all those that call for the “name and Shame” on social media THINK before you assume, attack and judge.... be Kind, We are all flawed, we all make mistakes... remember Bill and Ted? “Be excellent to each other” that’s a pretty decent code of conduct.

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  • Paul Matthews
  • 18-03-15

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.

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  • David
  • 14-06-15

Magazine article (at best)

5 stars, seriously.. 5 stars should be saved for one of the BEST books you've ever read not this sort of thing. Is this really the one the finest works of literature that you've ever encountered? The 5 star review is fast becoming a meaningless barometer.

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  • M. S.
  • 20-08-19

Not too bad for a Jon Ronson book

I’m struggling a little to give this book a fair review as I knew before I bought it that I wouldn’t like it. I don’t like Jon Ronson or his writing style. “The men who stared at goats” was watching paint dry. I then accidentally encountered him again with “The psychopath test” and was so disgusted I gave him one star plus an eternal avoidance of all his works from my side. Thus I agonised a long time about this book, but in the end the topic was too interesting and too under discussed not to buy it. So here we are.

This is a typical Jon Ronson book. Don’t expect a coherent structure, story or message. It is, like all his books seem to be, essentially a diary about Jon Ronson and how the world makes him feel (and should make you feel). He travelled around and talked with people about public shaming. The benefit the reader gets is of not having to travel around and getting insight into the views of people who would likely never talk to you unless you are Jon Ronson. As usual, the author does not end up looking half as great as he clearly feels he does, so I won’t bore you by enumerating the various places where this happens. Only one case stood out so jarringly that I will mention it: Jonah Lehrer, the disgraced journalist who was plagiarising his and everyone else’s work, showed the Jon Ronson his apology speech before making it to get his opinion. As soon as the author described the contents I knew this was going to go terribly. Apparently so did Jon Ronson, but he still mailed back that the speech was “fantastic”, because he wanted to keep Jonah on his side. Unsurprisingly, the apology was a massive disaster, Jonah was publicly shamed all over again and abused, ending up in further disgrace than before. Jon reacted by openly saying “Yeah, I knew it was going to blow up, but I wanted that interview...”

Seriously, how can you claim to be advocating for the disgraced and publicly shamed, when you are actively taking part in the downfall for selfish reasons?! Then the author has the NERVE to keep holding up the shaming of Jonah Lehrer during his apology speech as the ultimate example of horror, which he kept thinking of to remind himself of how brutal the *internet* is - apparently forgetting that he constructed the disaster in the first place to get his interview and enjoy ringside seeds during a public shaming in action. I’m sorry, but that is a complete disgrace and gives you an idea of just how unpleasant a human being this man is.

Furthermore I should mention the MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING. There are multiple mentions of beastiality in this book and sadly not as a reason for public shaming. The most graphic example is - thank goodness - fairly obvious nonsense, because the perpetrator would have fallen over dead from a major allergic reaction.

Now onto the actual contents of the book: It is fairly “meh”. The message that is really the most interesting to take away is that internet shamings do not just last the few days they are happening. The damage is far more extensive and can be life destroying. Most outraged netizens angrily tweeting their disgust for an off colour joke, expect everyone’s lives to be continuing as usual in a week’s time, but that is just not the case. People interviewed in the book had long term problems getting hired or finding partners, even if their crime was just a tweet that got misinterpreted several years ago. Essentially, we need to be aware that we are at all times building our “brand”, that future employers and love interests will check. That is a scary, dystopian reality the author appears to completely miss. Instead he focuses on anecdotes. His most profound realisation appears to be that no one cares about white powerful men having kinks anymore. There is little mention of the underlying misogyny and racism that dictates public opinion even today. It keeps getting alluded to, but then the author gets distracted by how great he is. Honestly, someone should write a book: “What can we learn from So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?”

I’m giving the book 2 stars, because in many ways it is fairly mediocre. I then deducted one star for the obnoxious author and his disastrous writing style. Still, it is my most highly rated Jon Ronson book, which I suppose is a certain badge of honour...

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  • Phil_Sainter
  • 18-03-15

Great piece of work

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

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  • Eoin
  • 09-04-15

A must read for online users

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

21 people found this helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 18-05-15

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Sam
  • 19-09-15

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.

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  • K. Ryan
  • 10-12-15

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.

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  • Cecilia Flynn
  • 23-05-16

Entertaining and insightful

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

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  • Samantha
  • 28-05-15

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.

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  • Alex
  • 25-03-15

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

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  • Daylan
  • 16-08-20

Insightful, relevant and darkly funny

If you’re a fan of Ronson’s writing then you’ll love this. If you’ve ever witnessed, participated or been on the receiving end of social media embarrassment, this is particularly insightful. Just overall great observational reporting. Helps to ground you and remember the person the other side of a 240 character tweet.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-04-15

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...

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  • Daniel
  • 22-05-16

Excellent

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

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  • DC
  • 08-09-15

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.

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  • Alicia
  • 11-03-20

Interesting

This one took me a while to listen of his books. I still liked the topics and overall message. I’m just not into shaming on social media and found it hard to listen because I was more horrified at the extent to which it goes on that I choose not to notice. Others might find it more enthralling , still glad I gave it a listen.

Thank you Jon for writing and putting yourself out there.

2 people found this helpful