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Mikhail Bakhtin talked about how we are all part of a carnivalistic life through our myriad of interactions that take place outside officialdom; that is, the order and structure of our disciplined and everyday life. He used the public square as an example of how we can escape to indulge other behaviours that can be sacred or profane. Our public square today, is more likely to be online. Facebook and twitter are expressions of identity, opinion and judgement lapped up by search engines that make money on their popularity rather than whether they are constructive of destructive, after all that is freedom of speech. However, Jon Ronson raises an important question – How much of our unofficial lives have we made as the unwritten officialdom? Orders, disciplines and judgements, applied not by the dynamics or orders of search engines, but by our behaviour. In his book, ‘So You’ve been publicly shamed’, he demonstrates how the unofficialdom of our carnivalistic lives metes out punishments that are inappropriate to the crime, and online they are often forever, without redemption. Yet, the crimes of many in officialdom, the destruction caused, go with a roguish slap on the wrist and are forgotten. Ronson allegorises on informant attitudes, to consider how much attention is given to check people are doing the ‘right thing’. However, the ‘right thing’ is often only mirrored back to us with our own choice of circles and public spaces that reflect our own attitudes. To engage with other opinions and perspectives is the real challenge to listening and shaping a carnivalistic life. Ronson points out that online activities are heavily tainted by the setting up of ideologies where lynching online takes place. It suggests to me that far from operating as the function of a carnivalsitic life that embraces difference, it is more accepting of new ideals of what difference is. Therefore, it has begun to distinctly mirror spaces of discipline and punishment that are meted out by officialdom, when others don’t fit in within this new set of ideologies. Only we’re cheap, and we make corporations money by engaging with it. We can be ruthless and merciless and unforgiving in doing so. It’s a cautionary journalistic tale to check our ethics and what we participate in as an online mob – money makes the world go round.

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