Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 224
Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is about people who did something on the Internet that earned them shame and outrage. It includes stories such as the one about Max Mosley, who got into trouble for going to an orgy with, allegedly, a Nazi theme. Other people profiled in the book include those accused of plagiarism, like Jonah Lehrer and many others.
The central theme of the book is about the nature of controversial things people do online and how the public reacts to them. The book dives into the gray areas central to these controversies. The thematic thrust of the book focuses more on the rush to judgment than on the justifiable outrage against any one particular case, since the cases themselves span the full spectrum of opinions.
For example, Ronson writes that he finds the accused plagiarist Lehrer “pitiable and mostly sympathetic.” In the book, Lehrer admits that he mostly just needed the money (from selling his book about creativity, which was recalled for falsified Bob Dylan quotes), even though he didn’t want to alter or even completely invent quotes.
The book questions how much people are really diving into these stories to really understand what someone did and why they did it, instead of just completely ruining their lives because of a headline or one-sentence blurb.
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