Does The Internet Really Make Public Shaming Worse?

February 20, 2015 2:17 PM

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Does The Internet Really Make Public Shaming Worse?

The following is an excerpt from Jennifer Jacquet's Is Shame Necessary, a new book that analyzes the merits and potential problems with holding others accountable for their mistakes, particularly in the digital age. In this chapter, Jacquet proposes that online shaming has taken on a new form entirely since Internet use became widespread, namely because disparaging comments now spread quickly and sometimes anonymously.

In seventeenth-century Boston, Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne ambled through the streets with a scarlet letter “illuminated upon her bosom.” Today, the U.S. government might not be interested in her affair (unless she was a U.S. politician), but if Prynne were Chinese, her marriage record might be online...

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