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Common Read 2017-18

'So You've Been Publicly Shamed' by Jon Ronson
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Author: Jon Ronson

We are very happy to announce the 2017-18 Common Read selection for the FIT community, and particularly for incoming freshmen, is Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

The nonfiction book is about online shaming and its historical antecedents, and focuses on the recent re-emergence of public shaming as an online phenomenon, particularly on Twitter.

This relevant and accessible book is, we feel, particularly well-timed for our current social and political climate, and the subject is already very much on the minds of our students. Further, the Common Read aligns with the FIT Strategic Plan objective to provide an empowering student experience in a cohesive community.
More about the Author
Jon Ronson is a Welsh journalist, author, documentary filmmaker, and radio personality whose works include the best-seller The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Psychopath Test, Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie and of course, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Jon regularly contributes to The Guardian, BBC Radio 4 via his series Jon Ronson On…, This American Life, GQ, The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and he has appeared at TED discussing So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and The Psychopath Test. (from jonronson.com)

More about So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Ronson's tour through a not-necessarily-brave new world where faceless commenters wield the power to destroy lives and careers, where the punishments often outweigh the crimes, and where there is no self-control and (ironically) no consequences. On one hand, part of what makes this book (again, ironically) so fun to read is a certain schadenfreude; it’s fun to read about others' misfortunes, especially if we think they "had it coming." Jonah Lehrer, whose admitted plagiarism and falsifications probably earned him his fall, stalks these pages. But so does Justine Sacco, whose ill-conceived tweet probably didn’t merit hers; as it turns out, the internet doesn’t always differentiate the misdemeanors from the felonies. But the best reason to read this is Ronson's style, which is funny and brisk, yet informative and never condescending. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not a scholarly book, nor is it a workbook about navigating ignominy. It's an entertaining investigation into a growing—and often disturbing—demimonde of uncharitable impulses run amok. —Jon Foro (via Amazon.com review)

Resources Related to So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
   •   Jon Ronson speaking about So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
   •   NPR Book Review for So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
   •   Slate Book Review for So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
   •   Jon Ronson speaking about So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed on CBC’s Q

2017-18 Common Read Selection Committee
Dr. Shadia Sachedina, Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Dean of Students (Co-chair)
Dr. Patrick Knisley, Dean for the School of Liberal Arts (Co-chair)
Naomi Schwer Bricker, Librarian, Gladys Marcus Library
Delphine Horvath, Assistant Professor, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing
Tardis Johnson, Associate Dean for Student Academic Support, Academic Advisement
Stephanie Kao, Associate Coordinator, Enrollment Management and Student Success
Dr. Amy Lemmon, Professor and Chairperson, English and Communication Studies
Carmita Sanchez-Fong, Professor and Chairperson, Interior Design
Dr. Kevin Visconti, Assistant Professor, English and Communication Studies
Catlin Wojtkowski, Counselor, Department of Student Life



Jon Ronson at FIT



Student Guide

Book Discussion Questions for So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

1. Have you—or anyone you know—been a victim of public online shaming? How did it make you feel? Was it at all constructive? What, if anything, would you do differently after reading Ronson’s book?
2. After having read So You've Been Publicly Shamed, what are some critiques that you have of the book, the subject matter, and the author?
3. Are any of the characters in this book sympathetic? Why or why not?
4. With the recent media spotlight on cyberbullying (e.g., 13 Reasons Why, Monica Lewinsky's TED Talk), how do you think this book will contribute to the national conversation?
5. This book highlights some compelling (and viral) cases of shaming; how can you apply the implications from this material to a smaller stage, such as the classroom or work environment?
6. Is every person subject to this scrutiny or are there examples of people who should be off-limits when it comes to public shaming (e.g., celebrities, public figures, political representatives)?
7. What constitutes “shaming”? How does public shaming differ from other ways of whistleblowing or exposing wrongdoing?
8. Does the method of exposing someone’s shortcomings matter? Is the viral nature of social media responsible for taking shaming to a different level?
9. How does Ronson’s own experience with public shaming compare with those of others he profiles?
10. Since the book was published, social media has taken an even larger role than ever before in our country’s political arena. Do you see this as positive or negative? Give specific examples. For background on social media and social justice movements, read this article from the Washington University Political Review (written and published by undergraduates).