After finishing Ronson’s book, I grew to like his unconventional writing style. I thought his informal speech, combined with his research, interviews, and own experience made the book the most unique work we have read so far. There is a certain fervor to his writing that I think may be fueled by his personal experiences on the internet. It seems Ronson’s online encounter with his troll drove him to delve deeper into ways the internet can strip away people’s freedoms. He and Boyd feel differently about the effects of the internet, but they do have some things in common.
Understanding the concept of online shaming and the effect it can have is crucial in our times. I think that Is evident by the fact that both Boyd and Ronson feel it is necessary to bring up when discussing social media. Ronson’s whole book is based on shaming, he even says “the renaissance in public shaming” is good. (pg. 34) Boyd also addresses shaming in her chapter on bullying.
In “Bullying: Is Social Media Amplifying Meanness and Cruelty” I think Boyd is the more pessimistic than she is in her entire book (which isn’t much). She segways into shaming by first talking about gossip and rumors. She says, “A rumor on Facebook has the potential to spread further and faster and persist longer than any school rumor could have in the past.” (pg. 145) Here she touches on the ability of the internet to be used as a tool to amplify things of interest in a long-term way. This is an idea that Ronson highlights throughout his book when he details the ripple effect that the internet has (on the shamers, the shamees, and anyone else caught in the crossfire) with his interviews. Boyd goes on to say most shared content online is shame related, even though some “productive attention” is out there. Ultimately, she says “People choose what to spread online” (pg. 146) and these things (like shaming) “don’t unfold because of social media.” (pg.147) I agree with the latter, shaming and the tools we use to do it are two very different things. Ronson shows us in his book that we found ways to shame before the internet was even invented. A shovel in one man’s hand is a murder weapon in another’s. We as internet consumers and social media hounds should try and do some more digging