The Men Who Shame At Scapegoats

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In his newly released book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” Jon Ronson takes a few jabs at “pop psychology” writers like Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer, at times for over-simplifying complex issues and at times for craftily including a “self-help” element in all their books. Because Ronson is smart, funny, and often self-deprecating, I’ll assume it was with a knowing wink – and perhaps even deeper irony – that he titled his own book like a self-help pamphlet, but it isn’t just a joke. Much of the book does actually focus on questions of how to help: how to help people recover their lives, recover their reputations, recover their will to live, after tragedy strikes.

What kind of tragedy? Ronson, of “The Psychopath Test” and “The Men Who Stare At Goats” fame, tackles a relatively contemporary topic: What happens when people are torn apart on social media? He especially focuses on Twitter, whose denizens most act as a righteous brigade, setting forth to right what wrongs they perceive in mob form and leaving shattered lives in their wake: shattered lives they quickly forget.

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Which Nazi War Criminal Are You? (Character Personality Quiz!)

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There have been a lot of personality / which-character quizzes going around recently whose quality I’ve been very disappointed in. Especially those Buzzfeed ones where you just click really big picture squares that all have clip-art copyright text and then at the end it just has a one-sentence result: “You are [result]. So yeah.” Can’t we put a little effort in this? I was making personality tests for friends on paper when I was 15 and also even at 15 I could already read, so I didn’t need big picture squares.

And everyone on Buzzfeed always gets the same result because there’s a type of person who takes Buzzfeed character tests and they’re all exactly the same. Yes, that means you. There are other results possible but anyone who’s different from you doesn’t take Buzzfeed character tests. You are an internet-hipster drone. Your quirkiness is imitative.

Your opinions are copied from those you hope are smarter than you; the cute way you speak is just parsing things memes have said with a few words changed. You’re hiding behind a bland veneer so no one can see your insecurities within. I have taken it upon myself to create a few much more meaningful personality tests to find out more about who you really are, the way personality-tests should really be done. Enjoy below: Continue reading

Your Life is an Open Book

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Mae is a nice, intelligent California girl who is disappointed with her place in life when her friendship with an older, world-beating BFF nets her a job at The Circle: the internet mega-company that happens when Google eats Facebook and Twitter and Apple and who knows what else in the near future. Dave Eggers’s new novel takes us along with Mae, who acts as our surrogate newcomer to the Circle world and its many implications, although as the story goes on she becomes assimilated and loyal to the ideals of the Circle in a way we are clearly meant to feel uneasy about.

Enough of her smart, slightly rebellious, insecure twentysomething girl-dom remains that we always feel on her side – but she drinks enough of the Kool-Aid to highlight how social media, in this story’s world, has gone somewhat awfully wrong. Continue reading