Jon Ronson: When online shaming goes too far
Jon Ronson - Writer and filmmaker
Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary filmmaker who dips into every flavor of madness, extremism and obsession. Full bio
it was like a place of radical de-shaming.
shameful secrets about themselves,
"Oh my God, I'm exactly the same."
that they had a voice,
or homophobic column,
something about it.
that we understood but they didn't --
misused their privilege,
democratization of justice.
pop science writer called Jonah Lehrer --
and faking quotes,
and regret, he told me.
at a foundation lunch.
important speech of his life.
live-streaming his event,
until he turned up,
Twitter feed right next to his head.
in his eye line.
because they were monstrous.
I think this was a unique moment
that were cascading into his eye line,
into forgiving him."
that he is capable of feeling shame."
by the best psychiatrist ever,
a tiny figure behind a lectern.
a frigging sociopath."
to do, to dehumanize the people we hurt.
but not feel bad about it.
begging for another chance,
courtroom dramas, we tend to identify
and we become like hanging judges.
perceived to have misused his privilege,
and we were still kicking,
for punching up.
when there wasn't a powerful person
that we could get.
began to feel like a day
with 170 Twitter followers,
acerbic jokes to them,
from New York to London:
It's 2014. Get some deodorant."
Thank god for pharmaceuticals.]
and pressed send, and got no replies,
congratulate us for being funny.
doesn't talk back.
and she had a little time to spare
another funny little acerbic joke:
Just kidding. I'm white!]
got on the plane, got no replies,
was taxiing on the runway,
a message from somebody
to since high school,
to see what's happening to you."
from a best friend,
trending topic on Twitter."
of her 170 followers had sent the Tweet
retweeted it to his 15,000 followers:
from IAC's PR boss]
to the Gawker journalist.
and he said, "It felt delicious."
"But I'm sure she's fine."
because while she slept,
and dismantled it piece by piece.
words ... bother you,
@CARE's work in Africa.]
racist tweet, I'm donating to @care today]
racist as fuck tweet from Justine Sacco.
that night? A few of you.
your Twitter feed the way it did mine?
what everybody thought that night,
that joke was intended to be racist.
flaunting her privilege,
flaunting of privilege.
or Randy Newman.
as good at it as Randy Newman.
a couple of weeks later in a bar,
puts us in a bit of a bubble
in the Third World.
night, a New Statesman writer Helen Lewis,
and wrote that she Tweeted that night,
was intended to be racist,"
a fury of Tweets saying,
a privileged bitch, too."
as Justine's life got torn apart.
this cunt @JustineSacco]
in the new year. #GettingFired]
to get her fired.
of your career. #SorryNotSorry
hoping to sell their products
stupid before you take off,
on a @Gogo flight!]
good money that night.
Googled 40 times a month.
and the end of December,
that that meant that Google made
and 468,000 dollars
those of us doing the actual shaming --
shaming interns for Google.
Justine Sacco gets aids? lol]
this bitch and then we'll find out
about destroying Justine,
are so simple-minded,
a lot of disparate groups that night,
You demented bitch...
to ride bare back while in Africa.]
"I'm going to get you fired."
and raped and cut out your uterus."
outrageous, offensive comment.
unreachable on an intl flight.]
turned to excitement:
@JustineSacco's face when her plane lands
her inbox/voicemail. #fired]
is going to have the most painful
when her plane lands.]
bitch get fired. In REAL time.
she's getting fired.]
a delightful narrative arc.
less judicial than this?
and unable to explain herself,
a huge part of the hilarity.
like toddlers crawling towards a gun.
which plane she was on, so they linked
On-time - arrives in 1 hour 34 minutes]
to see someone self-destruct
to go to bed, but everyone at the bar
Can't look away. Can't leave.]
thing to happen to my Friday night.]
to the airport to tweet her arrival?
at Cape Town international.
what it looks like to discover
because of a misconstrued liberal joke,
sunnies as a disguise.]
a mutual approval machine.
who feel the same way we do,
we screen them out.
that's the opposite of?
about people dying of AIDS in Africa.
is what led us to commit
in the Boston Review,
It's a cathartic alternative."
meeting people like Justine Sacco --
of people like Justine Sacco.
but they're not fine.
and suicidal thoughts.
who also told a joke that landed badly,
with learning difficulties,
because social media demanded it.
of the night, forgetting who she was.
to have misused her privilege.
to get people for than the things
like having children out of wedlock.
is becoming a free pass
anybody we choose to.
our capacity for empathy
and unserious transgressions.
and so to make it work,
the mining billionaire Desmond Sacco.
her father is a SA mining billionaire.
And neither is her father.]
about her billionaire father,
the early days of Twitter,
shameful secrets about themselves,
"Oh my God, I'm exactly the same."
for people's shameful secrets.
can overwhelm it all,
of people in the world:
humans over ideology,
ideology over humans.
for constant artificial high dramas
a magnificent hero
about our fellow humans.
we are clever and stupid;
was how it gave a voice
a surveillance society,
is to go back to being voiceless.
Google her name today,
100 pages of Google results --
taken on by a reputation management firm,
innocuous stories about her love for cats
managed to get the story
results, but it didn't last long.
creeping back up to the top result.
the very best thing we can do,
or an ambiguous shaming,
the worst thing that happened to Justine
like, everyone was against her,
that you need to get out.
a babble of voices, like in a democracy,
I think that's much less damaging.
stand up for somebody,
reading for everybody, okay?
actually puts the spotlight on shamers.
have friendly reactions on Twitter.
with some people.
to just concentrate --
and were really nice about the book.
stories about abuses of power,
over there in the military,
everybody applauds me.
people abusing our power now,"
"Well you must be a racist too."
yesterday -- we were at dinner,
with people around the table --
you turned to your phone,
We had like a TED dinner last night.
and nice, and I decided to check Twitter.
a white supremacist."
a nice conversation with somebody,
made the world a worse place.
a John Carpenter movie from the 1980s,
will start screaming at each other
and then eventually everybody
as a really nice option.
JR: Thank you, Bruno.
About the speaker:Jon Ronson - Writer and filmmaker
Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary filmmaker who dips into every flavor of madness, extremism and obsession.
Why you should listen
For his latest book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson spent three years traveling the world and talking to people who'd been subjected to high-profile public shamings. Whatever their transgression, the response was to be faced by an angry mob, as Ronson calls them "collective outrage circles" devoted to tearing down said person from any position of power. It does not, Ronson suggests gently, reflect so well on society as a whole.
In a previous book, The Psychopath Test, Ronson explored the unnerving world of psychopaths -- a group that includes both incarcerated killers and, one of his subjects insists, plenty of CEOs. In his books, films and articles, Ronson explores madness and obsession of all kinds, from the US military's experiments in psychic warfare to the obscene and hate-filled yet Christian rap of the Insane Clown Posse. He wrote a column for the Guardian, hosted an essay program on Radio 4 in the United Kingdom, and contributes to This American Life.
Jon Ronson | Speaker | TED.com