The Revival of Public Shaming

Public shaming and the internet

Recommended Book: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

“Now a New York Times bestseller and from the author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world’s most underappreciated forces: shame.” Amazon

Public shaming has been a means of punishing people– whether for breaking the law or violating social contract– for hundreds of years.  It fell out of common use in the 20th century, because the practice was considered ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, which is outlawed in the United States Constitution, but has seen a revival since the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in the late 1990’s.  

In his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson takes a look at the modern version of public shaming: the use of social media platforms, like Twitter, to instantly create a viral trial by internet.  Each chapter of the book examines the stories of both ordinary people and public figures who have found themselves in the unfortunate position of becoming instantly infamous, guilty or not.  

Ronson explores the reasons for shaming in the both historical and societal contexts, and warns that anyone, including you (the reader), could find themselves in the inescapable clutches of negative Google search results that live forever on the Internet.  We recommend this book for it’s timeliness and because it’s the first book of it’s kind to address this topic head-on with real-life anecdotes.

About the author

Marc Gafni & Lisa Engles