So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Ronson, Jon

Two | I’m Glad I’m Not That

“Bad liars always think they’re good at it,” Michael said to me. “They’re always confident they’re defeating you.”

He meant that we all have ticking away within us something we fear will badly harm our reputation if it got out—some “I’m glad I’m not that” at the end of an “I’m glad I’m not me.” I think he was right. Maybe our secret is actually nothing horrendous. Maybe nobody would even consider it a big deal if it was exposed. But we can’t take that risk. So we keep it buried. Maybe it’s a work impropriety. Or maybe it’s just a feeling that at any moment we’ll blurt something out during some important meeting that’ll prove to everyone that we aren’t proper professional people or, in fact, functional human beings.

Three | The Wilderness

I suppose that when shamings are delivered like remotely administered drone strikes nobody needs to think about how ferocious our collective power might be. The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.

You combine insecurity and ambition, and you get an inability to say no to things.

Four | God That Was Awesome

I once asked a car-crash victim what it had felt like to be in a smashup. She said her eeriest memory was how one second the car was her friend, working for her, its contours designed to fit her body perfectly, everything smooth and sleek and luxurious, and then a blink of an eye later it had become a jagged weapon of torture—like she was inside an iron maiden. Her friend had become her worst enemy.

Eight | The Shame-Eradication Workshop

“As soon as the victim steps out of the pact by refusing to feel ashamed, the whole thing crumbles.”

Nine | A Town Abuzz over Prostitution and a Client List

I think we all care deeply about things that seem totally inconsequential to other people. We all carry around with us the flotsam and jetsam of perceived humiliations that actually mean nothing. We are a mass of vulnerabilities, and who knows what will trigger them?

Eleven | The Man Who Can Change the Google Search Results

But it’s odd that so many of us see shaming how free-market libertarians see capitalism, as a beautiful beast that must be allowed to run free.

Thirteen | Raquel in a Post-Shaming World

It may be somewhat paradoxical to refer to shame as a “feeling,” for while shame is initially painful, constant shaming leads to a deadening of feeling. Shame, like cold, is, in essence, the absence of warmth. And when it reaches overwhelming intensity, shame is experienced, like cold, as a feeling of numbness and deadness. In Dante’s Inferno the lowest circle of hell was a region not of flames, but of ice—absolute coldness. —JAMES GILLIGAN, Violence: Reflections on Our Deadliest Epidemic

There were glimpses of a summer day through the windows, and as a corrections officer let us in, she said that tensions were high because warm days are when a person really feels incarcerated.

Fourteen | Cats and Ice Cream and Music

We were creating a world where the smartest way to survive is to be bland.

Fifteen | Your Speed

But the Internet isn’t about us. It’s about the companies that dominate the data flows of the Internet.”


  • Banalities – the fact or condition of being banal; unoriginality.
  • Maelstrom – a powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river.
  • Inviolable – never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored.
  • Prurient – having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.
  • Histrionic – overly theatrical or melodramatic in character or style.
  • Abrogation – The verbs abrogate and arrogate are quite different in meaning. While abrogate means ‘repeal (a law),’ arrogate means ‘take or claim (something) for oneself without justification,’ often in the structure arrogate something to oneself, as in the emergency committee arrogated to itself whatever powers it chose.
  • Prevaricated – speak or act in an evasive way.
  • Besotted – strongly infatuated.
  • Mews – a row or street of houses or apartments that have been converted from stables or built to look like former stables.
  • Opulent – ostentatiously rich and luxurious or lavish.
  • Denizen – an inhabitant or occupant of a particular place.
  • Inchoate – just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary.
  • Colicky – severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen caused by intestinal gas or obstruction in the intestines and suffered especially by babies.
  • Hitherto – until now or until the point in time under discussion.
  • Garrulous – excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters.
  • Acerbic – sharp and forthright.
  • Temerity – excessive confidence or boldness; audacity.
  • Contrition – the state of feeling remorseful and penitent.
  • Ignominy – public shame or disgrace.
  • Pilloried – a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, in which an offender was imprisoned and exposed to public abuse.
  • Pliable – easily bent; flexible.