I recently finished Jon Ronson’s excellent new book SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED which explores public shaming of all varieties through the medium of social media. For me, Ronson is a cracking nonfiction writer. As a writer and journalist he tackles the topics a little left of center, such as public shaming. Maybe I enjoy his writing so much because he’s drawn to the weirder world as I am. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m fascinated by the improbable and unlikely circumstances that exist in our world. I’m all about the cruel and unusual.
The reason I mention Ronson’s book is because I felt a little relief and thrill reading it in connection my own book THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. After every book, I always suffer with the collywobbles. I start to fret about the plotline and whether it’s a little too wild or unbelievable. The worst I’ve ever felt was with TERMINATED which is about workplace violence and I was a little concerned that the flashpoint for the book—a bad performance review—was a little too extreme. But after an afternoon of Googling the topic, I found that a bad review was totally in bounds for sending someone ‘postal.’ Reading SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED gave me that same sense of reassurance. THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY doesn’t deal with public shaming per se but the villain’s reason to kill to punish people for the small/unpunishable crimes that society ignores. A number of sources in this villain’s particular manifesto influenced me and public shaming played a small part. I’ve long lamented how depressing it is read the comments feed for any news story, YouTube post, or any online content. It doesn’t take long before it turns racist, contemptuous, negative and flat out hateful. What gave me reassurance (in a peculiar way) reading Ronson’s book was how the public shaming examples he investigated turned foul and vicious. They usually ended in a call for violence, especially where women were concerned. Like I say, it was a peculiar form of reassurance. I’m not saying I’m all for killing women when they step on society’s toes but the book illustrated how murderous intent could come from one person’s perceived view of bad behavior in another person. The book even talked about pillories and public stocks. For people who’ve read THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY will understand my reassurance at that mention.
Like I say, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY isn’t about public shaming because the villain takes it to the next level and executes those who fail to live up to his particular moral viewpoint. However, SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED did give me a warm fuzzy feeling about THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. I’m glad my stretch of the imagination only went a couple of degrees further than what is happening in the world…and hopefully will remain that way.
I thoroughly recommend to everyone to pick up one of his books at some point…and any of mine while you’re at it. 🙂