Coming the day after Monica Lewinsky gave an internet talk on cyber-bullying, Jon Ronson offered welcome perspective on the shaming culture that is flourishing on social media.
An Evening of Public Shaming With Jon Ronson - Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow
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Recounting examples from his latest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, he gave special focus to the case of Justine Sacco, a PR whose ill-advised tweet before boarding a flight from Heathrow to Cape Town, saw her pilloried worldwide in 2013. Ronson’s unsettling conclusion is that, as individuals, we have less to fear from the NSA or GCHQ snooping on our e-mails, than the surveillance and outrage engine we’ve fashioned ourselves with Twitter and Facebook.
And despite an absurdly comic video sequence, in which the writer flounced impotently at the academics who created a Twitter spambot challenging his public profile, his abiding conclusion is chilling – that of all the groups he’s investigated in his journalism, be it the UDA, KKK or US military complex, the one which causes him most disquiet, is us, the chattering, judgmental masses on our laptops, seeking refreshed outrage and scapegoats daily.
Conscious of the pessimism of this conclusion, this droll, loquacious author leavened this message with wry reflections on his own shameful behaviour and tales of his sometime bandmate, the late, great Frank Sidebottom, balancing Twitter’s charge sheet with an example of how the online community bandied together to honour an eccentric. Opening the second half up to questions, he closed with the hilarious, life-affirming tale of sharing the worst swearword in the world with his son.
Seen on 20.03.15