The Psychopath Test is Ronson’s last book and that’s where he starts. Labelling people as mentally ill can be highly problematic, but we all like a “mental health check list” he says. There’s a parallel with his new book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” The public shaming that takes place on the internet is a form of labelling and it is intentionally dehumanising.
The book contains chapters based on a whole series of examples of public shaming. One of these was about Justine Sacco, who sent an ostensibly racist tweet whilst on her way to South Africa. She believed she was making a joke exposing a passive racist bubble in which many white Americans exist. That’s not what the twitterati believed. The shaming took place whilst Justine was asleep on the plane with no access to the internet. By the time she landed she was the focus of worldwide hatred and had lost her job.
After Ronson took us through his book-centred performance, and performance it was, with timing and humour honed over an extensive promotional tour, John Mitchinson’s interview was completely on point. If you didn’t have tickets for Texas this was a fine way to end a Hay day.
We are defining the boundaries of normality by terrorising and humiliating the people who stand outside. Social justice is being defined by people who care more about ideology than they do about people, says Ronson.