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In so Deep - Tom Monahan

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Showtime by Katy Konrad

No Shame - Tom Monahan

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By Dakota.Me.UK, Jun 26 2016 12:14PM

So You’ve been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson, Picador 2015.

Public shaming is not a new concept. This is an act which has gone on for hundreds of years, but it is in recent years, partly due to social media, that it has brought increasing levels of vitriol. For his research, Jon Ronson travelled the country for three years, meeting people who had been publicly shamed, and shows a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of his subjects. This is hardly surprising, as Ronson has been publicly shamed too.

When Ronson realized somebody was tweeting as him, he contacted them to ask them to take the Twitter account down. At first, they refused to do so, eventually met up, and due to pressure from others, the page was eventually taken down. A particularly interesting part of the book was when Ronson spoke to Max Mosley, who the News of the World suggested had been part of a Nazi themed sex party. The facts emerged that although there was an S&M element to proceedings, there was no Nazi reference. The most humbling part of the discussion with him was his openness to be himself, while standing up for his right to privacy.

The majority of people now use social media, some of the most popular sites being Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These offer a voice to the ‘have it now’ generation, where we can express opinions on events as they are happening, in real time, and get reactions from people all over the world. This also brings an element of risk, in that anything offensive or misguided we post cannot be taken back. Even if a post is deleted, if it’s been screen shot beforehand, thoughts and opinions can still be spread faster than we could have imagined ten years ago. The recent events of Brexit display this all too well.

One case written in the book is of Lindsey Stone, who while visiting Arlington National Cemetery, took a picture in front of a ‘silence and respect’ sign which would lead to her downfall. This led to her receiving death threats. She lost her job. Although posting the photograph was a bad decision, the level of vitriol directed to her was shocking.

Also discussed is Justine Sacco, who posted a controversial tweet while boarding a plane to Africa. This was shared so fast, people on Twitter were tweeting to find out when her plane would land, so they could see her face when she realized how the situation had detonated out of control. Justine also lost her job. There are other people interviewed in ‘So You’ve been Publicly Shamed’ and all display similarities – the men and women having rape or death threats after their posts, suffering health problems and losing their jobs.

Public punishments were phased out in the UK in 1837, but public shaming online is alive and well in 2016. ‘So You’ve been Publicly Shamed’ definitely gave me an extra insight into many of these people I had read about in the media, but didn’t know the full story. It also made me think twice about the content I post online. Don’t shame others, but don’t give others a reason to shame you. Food for thought.

Purple Poetess

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