Jon Ronson Discusses Public Shaming

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By: Molly Black, Metro Staff Writer

Western Campus of Tri-C was the last stop of an eighteen-month book tour for Jon Ronson, bestselling author, who spoke at the four campuses before taking a deserved break. His book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, is a best-selling non-fiction about how the population of social media, especially Twitter, can turn on somebody with very little provocation, and the emotional fallout for the person shamed.

The talk was good, the question-and-answer period full of curiosity and response and it was a good showing for this Common Reading program event.

He spoke for thirty minutes to the 40+ individuals during his Metro Campus stop about the experiences of two people he had written about in the book. He didn’t just read from the book, though he did read an excerpt from it, but also spoke of his own experiences interviewing the shamed people and the aftermath from their public, and online shaming. Jobs were lost, friends disappeared, and depression rampant. He discussed how the research and writing of the book had created a sense of anxiety that he hadn’t experienced before when writing any of his previous nine books.

There was an extended question and answer period. One that was indicative of the thoughtfulness was asked by a young woman, who questioned Ronson, “A lot of these stories kind of touched me…What type of state of mind did it put you in?” He responded at length, “I found myself feeling fairly anxious; I found it an anxiety-inducing book to write.” “Something about the fact that, doing this day-after-day-after-day, with different levels of people deserving it, some where you have zero sympathy for them…but some where the person turns out to be completely innocent.” and he continued, later, with, “I believe in curiosity and compassion where possible, and I don’t like the fact that curiosity and compassion, for understandable and often good reasons, have been replaced by judgmentalism.”

The last part of the Common Reading (re)imagining event is taking place on December 2nd, at Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Center on Public Square, from 6-8pm, where there will be food and a showing of a selection of the chosen entries from the “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” call for art.

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