I have read a few books by Jon Ronson and I always find them fascinating. I do wonder how he comes up with this stuff. And how does he know what will sell? OK, we have all wondered if we are a psychopath or not (haven’t we? no?) but most of us have managed to avoid doing something a) daft enough and b) public enough that the whole world suddenly knows who we are and thinks we are an idiot.
That is what the book is about. Ronson interviews several people who have had the misfortune to put their foot in their mouth, or tell a lie, or to make a joke in poor taste, or something else that we are all capable of doing, and many of us do quite frequently. But these people have done it publicly (or on social media, which is the same thing if not worse), then the slightly stupid and thoughtless thing has got shared and spread (usually by social media, maybe by old-fashioned media) until it explodes and that person becomes a household name for a week or so for all the wrong reasons.
Ronson tells a few stories as examples of when this has happened, examines quite what motivates us humans to publicly shame another human, and discusses the ways that public shame has affected these unlucky ones. It is quite shocking how just one joke in poor taste really can affect your entire life. He also looks at ways that we can deal with this public humiliation should we ever be in this position. This was a very quick, interesting and thought-provoking read.