So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed


Jon Ronson

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed Characters

Jon Ronson

In So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, British-American journalist Jon Ronson sets out to unravel the history of public shamings, focusing on interview subjects in the U.S. and Britain alike. An avid internet user who… read analysis of Jon Ronson

Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer is a writer and journalist who was publicly shamed in 2012 when the journalist Michael Moynihan exposed a series of fabrications and embellishments in Lehrer’s nonfiction bestseller Imagine: How Creativity Works. Though… read analysis of Jonah Lehrer

Michael Moynihan

Michael Moynihan is a New York-based writer and journalist. His 2012 article in Tablet magazine about Jonah Lehrer’s plagiarism in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works led to Lehrer’s intense, merciless online public shaming… read analysis of Michael Moynihan

Justine Sacco

Justine Sacco is a former PR executive who was publicly shamed after she tweeted a satirical but insensitive joke about white privilege. When Sacco tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding… read analysis of Justine Sacco

Lindsey Stone

Lindsey Stone is a woman who was publicly shamed on the internet in 2012, shortly after a satirical picture she took went viral. While visiting Washington, D.C., Stone and a friend—who had a tradition of… read analysis of Lindsey Stone
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Max Mosley

Max Mosley is a British socialite and former Formula One motor racing chief whose parents rose to infamy in Britain because of their ardent support of Hitler and their leadership of the British Union of… read analysis of Max Mosley

Luke Robert Mason

Luke Robert Mason is a researcher at Warwick University who created a spambot (or infomorph) using Jon Ronson’s tweets. Ronson felt humiliated by the bot’s presence, afraid that people would think he himself was… read analysis of Luke Robert Mason

Ted Poe

Ted Poe is a Houston judge turned representative for Texas’s Second Congressional District. As a judge, Poe was notorious for meting out unusual punishments to lawbreakers. For instance, he offered a young man who’d killed… read analysis of Ted Poe

Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo is a psychiatrist who is famous for creating the Stanford Prison Experiment. In that experiment, Zimbardo selected several young men to playact as “guards” and “prisoners” in the basement of a laboratory to… read analysis of Philip Zimbardo

Dave Eshelman

Dave Eshelman gained notoriety as a member of Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. Eshelman appeared to go off the rails during the experiment, violently persecuting his fellow “inmates” during the experiment. But when Ronson… read analysis of Dave Eshelman


Hank (which is an alias) is a man who was publicly shamed for making vaguely lewd puns at a tech conference in 2013. Adria Richards, a Black Jewish woman who was also in attendance… read analysis of Hank

Adria Richards

Adria Richards is a woman who was publicly shamed after she attempted to publicly shame someone herself at a tech conference in 2013. When Richards noticed a pair of men sitting behind her at a… read analysis of Adria Richards

Mercedes Haefer

Mercedes Haefer is an internet user and “4chan denizen” who spoke with Jon Ronson about the public shamings of Adria Richards and a man known as “Hank.” When Hank and a friend made… read analysis of Mercedes Haefer

Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey is a theatrical monologist who was publicly shamed on the radio and the internet after his successful one-man show about worker abuses at Apple factories in China was revealed to contain information that… read analysis of Mike Daisey

Donna Dolore

Donna Dolore is a porn empresario who turned her childhood struggles with intense shame into her own liberation. Jon Ronson visited one of Donna’s shoots—the theme of which was a public shaming—to explore how oftentimes… read analysis of Donna Dolore

Brad Blanton

Brad Blanton is the leader of a shame-eradication workshop whose ethos centers around Radical Honesty, the practice of minimizing shame and secrecy by being completely transparent in all of one’s interactions with others. Jon Ronsonread analysis of Brad Blanton

Andrew Ferreira

Andrew Ferreira is a former pastor who was outed for having visited a brothel run by Zumba instructor Alexis Wright in Kennebunk, Maine. Though Ferreira expected that because of his position in the faith community… read analysis of Andrew Ferreira

Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright is a former Zumba instructor who was found to have been running a brothel out of her studio in Kennebunk, Maine. Wright’s list of over 60 clients was made available to the public… read analysis of Alexis Wright

Michael Fertik

Michael Fertik is the owner of a company called, which helps people restore their reputations, remove compromising Google search results, and rehabilitate their internet presences after public shamings or other compromising public incidents. Fertik… read analysis of Michael Fertik

Jim McGreevey

Jim McGreevey is an American politician and the former Democratic governor of New Jersey. During his initial run, McGreevey presented himself as a wholesome family man—but he was hiding the fact that he was gay… read analysis of Jim McGreevey


Golan is an Israeli man with whom politician Jim McGreevey began an affair during a trip to Israel in the mid-2000s. McGreevey created a position in his administration for Golan in order to bring the… read analysis of Golan

James Gilligan

James Gilligan is a renowned psychiatrist and an expert on shaming whose work with prisoners and mental patients throughout Massachusetts in the 1970s produced groundbreaking evidence about the relationship between shame and violence. Gilligan observed… read analysis of James Gilligan


Raquel was an inmate at a New Jersey correctional facility run by Jim McGreevey. Jon Ronson traveled to the facility with McGreevey to research how shame affects incarcerated people, and he found himself moved… read analysis of Raquel
Minor Characters
Gustave LeBon
Gustave LeBon was a 19th-century French doctor who sought to prove scientifically that revolutionary movements could be attributed to the “madness” of psychological contagion and loss of individuality in crowds and mobs. LeBon was a virulent racist and eugenicist whose work has since been debunked.
Andrew Wylie
Andrew Wylie is a powerful literary agent who represented disgraced writer Jonah Lehrer in the early 2010s.
Farukh Rashid
Farukh Rashid is an employee at Michael Fertik’s reputation management firm. He helps Lindsey Stone to rehabilitate her internet presence and drive down negative Google search results related to her shaming incident.