So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

by

Jon Ronson

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Lindsey Stone Character Analysis

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 taking silly pictures with public signage—staged a photograph in which Stone was raising her middle finger at a sign asking for silence and respect at Arlington Cemetery. When the picture, which Lindsey’s friend posted, went viral, incensed mobs of people on platforms like Twitter and Facebook called for Lindsey to lose her job and to suffer violence and assault. Lindsey did end up getting fired from the care facility where she worked, and the press hounded her and her family so intensely that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and barely left the house for a year. Jon Ronson uses Lindsey’s story to illustrate the misogyny behind many public shamings, as well as the long-term ramifications that a slightly offensive but ultimately innocuous misstep can have for an ordinary person. Stone was eventually able to secure the help of Michael Fertik’s firm Reputation.com. Together with Fertik and his associate Farukh Rashid, Lindsey was able to flood the internet with positive search results for her name and drive down the negative ones to relative obscurity.

Lindsey Stone Quotes in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed quotes below are all either spoken by Lindsey Stone or refer to Lindsey Stone. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed published in 2016.
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Literally, overnight everything I knew and loved was gone,” Lindsey said.

And that's when she fell into a depression, became an insomniac, and barely left home for a year.

Related Characters: Lindsey Stone (speaker), Jon Ronson (speaker), Justine Sacco
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

The criminal justice system is supposed to repair harm, but most prisoners—young, black—have been incarcerated for acts far less emotionally damaging than the injuries we noncriminals perpetrate upon one another all the time—bad husbands, bad wives, ruthless bosses, bullies, bankers.

I thought about Justine Sacco. How many of the people piling on her had been emotionally damaged by what they had read? As far as I could tell, only one person was damaged in that pile-on.

Related Characters: Jon Ronson (speaker), Justine Sacco, Lindsey Stone
Page Number: 228-229
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“Normal prison is punishment in the worst sense,” Jim told me. “It’s like a soul-bleeding. Day in, day out, people find themselves doing virtually nothing in a very negative environment.”

I thought of Lindsey Stone, just sitting at her kitchen table for almost a year, staring at the online shamings of people just like her.

“People move away from themselves,” Jim said. “Inmates tell me time and again that they feel themselves shutting down, building a wall.”

Related Characters: Jim McGreevey (speaker), Jon Ronson (speaker), Lindsey Stone
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lindsey Stone Character Timeline in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The timeline below shows where the character Lindsey Stone appears in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: The Man Who Can Change the Google Search Results
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
In October of 2012, Lindsey Stone—a caregiver at a center for adults with learning difficulties—chaperoned a fun, educational trip to... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
Jamie asked Lindsey if they should take the picture down, but Stone insisted things were fine. Little did... (full context)
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Cycles of Shame, Trauma, and Violence Theme Icon
Lindsey eventually found a new job caring for children with autism, but the fear that her... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Cycles of Shame, Trauma, and Violence Theme Icon
Lindsey’s life was about to change again. Ronson had met two men: Graeme Wood and Phineas... (full context)
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
...take Gregory’s place, but Fertik’s team didn’t want to take her case. So Ronson suggested Lindsey Stone instead, and even though Fertik predicted it would take “at least a hundred grand”... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
Cycles of Shame, Trauma, and Violence Theme Icon
Fertik couldn’t start working on Lindsey’s case for a few months, so in the meantime, Ronson accepted an invitation from Richard... (full context)
Chapter 13: Raquel in a Post-Shaming World
Good, Evil, and Inhumanity Theme Icon
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Cycles of Shame, Trauma, and Violence Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
...life anew. And Raquel had committed a far more serious offense than Justine Sacco or Lindsay Stone —yet the public still refused Sacco and Stone forgiveness for reasons Ronson could no longer... (full context)
Chapter 14: Cats and Ice Cream and Music
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Shame, Freedom of Speech, and Public Discourse Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
...and LinkedIn pages, and other sites saturated with friendly pictures of and innocuous information about Lindsey, Rashid would be able to push the photo of Lindsey at Arlington further down in... (full context)
Shame and Social Media Theme Icon
Shame and Gender Theme Icon
In October of 2014, Ronson visited Lindsey Stone again. Fertik’s firm had been busy populating the internet with blog posts they’d written... (full context)