We are in the Golden Age of Public Shaming

April 13th, 2015
dunce_cap.jpgThere once was a time, back in the 18th and 19th centuries, when public shaming was the norm.  The stockades, corporal punishment, torture marks and even the famed Scarlet Letter, all represented ways in which society could express it’s scorn.

Today, with the power and reach of the Internet and social media, we are in a golden age of shaming.  Monica Lewinsky’s recent Ted Talk on the subject has been viewed over 3 million times.

But has this new age of shaming made us better?  Has it reined in indecent behavior?  Has it made us more just or just more paranoid?  The long time radio host Don Imus used to say he’d like to ask guests, especially public figures, very tough questions in the hope that the answers just might ruin their careers.   Today that can happen in the blink of a Tweet.

Jon Ronson  has been studying this recent phenomenon and he writes about it in So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

My conversation with Jon Ronson: