2016: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

From Booklist: Is technology moving humankind forward, or does the powerful reach of social media hearken back to the public floggings of the past? The author of The Men Who Stare at Goats (2005) and The Psychopath Test (2011) takes a hard look at modern-day shaming in his provocative new book. Inspired by an episode where a spambot impersonated him on Twitter, Ronson employs his typical investigatory approach to take the reader on a years-long exploration of humiliation via technology, his curious mind pursuing new avenues of inquiry as they open up. He recounts the real-time Twitter shaming of a disgraced author, which was displayed on a feed the author could see as he was making his apology speech; the race-tinged tweet of a ­public-relations executive that upended her life; and the story behind a Facebook photo that mightily offended members of the military and their supporters. Beyond that, though, he talks to those involved—both the people shamed and those who acted as instruments for their humiliation—about their motivations, what the experience did to them, and whether they recovered. With confidence, verve, and empathy, Ronson skillfully informs and engages the reader without excusing those caught up in the shame game. As he stresses, we are the ones wielding this incredible power over others’ lives, often with no regard for the lasting consequences of our actions.— Bridget Thoreson

Jon Ronson at the Quick Center, 2016