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Marketplace Morning Report

Jon Ronson on the renaissance of public shaming

Jenny Ament Apr 17, 2015
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There was a time when trolls were just scary fairy tale creatures under bridges harassing billy goats. These days? Trolls are everywhere.

Journalist Jon Ronson documents this public shaming renaissance in his new book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.”

He highlights the recipients of some recent high-profile, public shamings: a joke on Twitter that came out badly and went viral, a brand compelled to offer compensation to unhappy customers. He says where once there was public humiliation you actually had to show up for, now there are subtweets and anonymous YouTube comments. 

“We’ve created this system for ourselves … this kind of weird surveillance system, where the only way to survive is to either be bland or silent,” Ronsen says.

More often than not, Ronsen says, public shaming stems from good people just trying to do good:

“It was nice people like us wanting to show that we’re proper, and ethical, and empathetic and we’re attackingwe’re punching up, we’re attacking people misusing their privilege. It’s good people like us that are creating the most destruction.”

Ronson himself has recently received a fair amount of Internet backlash surrounding the book release, for a (now cut) line comparing the way men feel about getting fired to the way women feel about rape.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above to hear more, including Ronson’s take on Trevor Noah, the new (publicly shamed) host of “The Daily Show.”

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