Embracing one’s flaws: Ronson vs. Boyd

Boyd and Ronson take different approaches to how social media is used in today’s society, but they share some similar opinions. Both authors highlight some negative sides to social media in their work, but both also believe that social media as a whole is not negative, it is just how some people decide to use it. Social media culture is a result of how society is changing and people must accept it and learn to use it properly and effectively.

Ronson’s focus is online shaming. This is when somebody says something online that people either take out of context or view as completely unacceptable and basically destroy their lives online (and offline) by sending mean and threatening messages to/about the person. Among the people he interviewed, Max Mosely is one of interest. What makes him stand out in Ronson’s book is not only was he not shamed online, but he wouldn’t let people shame him, so to speak. As Ronson puts it, “it was simply that he has refused to feel ashamed” (Ronson 156). Mosely himself states that “as soon as the victim steps out of the pact by refusing to feel ashamed, the whole thing crumbles” (Ronson 156). Mosely embraced and owned up to the things that people were trying to shame him for and refused to feel embarrassed about them. Since Mosely wasn’t being effected by everyone’s efforts to shame him, there was no point in them trying to continue.

Let’s think about Boyd. Boyd’s primary focus is the relationship between social media and teenagers. She is concerned with how teens are using social media, how it differs/is the same from how teens from previous generations communicated, and the impact that the transition to online life is having on these kids. She briefly touches on the subject of bullying and how it can take form online. She interviews a girl who has a situation completely different than Mosley’s, but the actions and viewpoint she takes are very similar. This girl preemptively posts embarrassing pictures of herself online so her friends can’t post anything embarrassing about her, which “guarantees that others can’t control the social situation” (Boyd page 75). She told Boyd how “her apparent exhibitionism left plenty of room for people to not focus on the things that were deeply intimate in her life” (Boyd 75). By showing this embarrassing side of herself online, others cannot touch her since she embraces it and does not feel ashamed of others seeing those photos.

These are two very different situations; one is about an old man after a huge attempt from people to shame him, and the other is about a teenage girl posting things online to prevent that shaming from happening. However, Mosley and the girl use the same logic: they own up to the material that people might want to shame them for “because they do not want people to have power over them” (Boyd 75). This prompts the question from Ronson: “does a shaming only work if the shame plays his or her part in it by feeling ashamed?” (page 156).

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3 thoughts on “Embracing one’s flaws: Ronson vs. Boyd”

  1. This is really good! I like the idea that shaming isn’t truly shaming if no one feels the effects. I enjoyed these examples too while reading, but I do think it takes a very strong and confident individual to make fun of yourself and not feel shame when someone says something negative about you.

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  2. I think this is an excellent essay! You’re connection to Boyd and Ronson is spot on. The example of Max and the girl posting embarrassing pictures of herself is one I had not thought of. Your closing statement was very impactful as well. Makes me wonder if I just stop caring what people think, then I won’t feel embarrassed anymore.

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  3. I really liked the connection between the two stories. Do you really think its the same thought- it seems like the girl who posts things to avoid other people pointing them out is still ashamed, she’s just trying to mask it or prevent it from seeming like a big deal? I was also wondering if you think this would always be an effective form of prevention or if for some people it would actually open them up to ridicule?

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