I’m a lover of nature. I’ve always enjoyed walking on the beach and feeling the warm sand on my feet grant me some kind of comfort, along with the affective memories of a weekend spent with my parents running around, then finding the courage and curiosity to get closer to the noisy waves breaking in synchrony, white and blue, green and brown, sometimes carrying a plastic bag, sometimes little shells, or crabs, or tiny living creatures that would honestly scare the hell out of me until my late twenties. And since I’m not yet blowing candles for my third decade in this world full of mystery and wonder, I’d rather be positive about that gap separating whoever people thought I was from this whole awareness of adulthood, and think of myself as a somewhat brave, maybe slightly experienced debunking enthusiast. The Atlantic is all I know, but no need to reduce it to one single building of intellect. It’s perfectly okay to build walls around knowledge, but I doubt that’s an accurate description of the sort of epiphany I had when I was a kid holding my breath under the polluted waters of Santos beaches, and if I did think of anything memorable, I feel I really can’t be proud of whatever made me go in there with my clothes on, then come back to this crowd of observant people who thought I was someone from Europe. I wasn’t alone, and in any case, my black hair would prove them wrong, which might have made them even more observant, but still pretending not to care about this guy who was almost a surfer, but not really.
I might be better off talking about plants, but let me use the metaphor. When you’re young, you don’t care, but dear lord, you question. And I saw rocks before I saw fruit. Not the happiest early bird. But here I am, talking about them. I’ll get to the point in a second. I guess when people see nature, they’re closer to instinct, and one of them would be to want peaceful places more than engines, smoky streets and rolling numbers, with all sorts of destination. More concretely, though (since that’s the metaphor I wanted, but it’s gone already), the nature of genius produced the internet, and life is online for an immense amount of people who want connection, to you, to me, to other citizens of the world. When they say hello, do you want to hear them or read those 5 letters?
That’s actually an extremely complex debate. Of course everyone has a preference at different times, and it goes without saying that if everyone decides to talk at the same time, not a human could understand, let alone process and reply consistently. French philosophy, however, has given us Jacques Derrida’s concerns for the duality of communication before it was a meaningless coinflip: in the 1960s, Of Grammatology explored (and I haven’t, cause God I was bored) the historical motivation of text and speech as humanity’s deepest conflict of interest, permeated by power relations. And the snob in me wants to say that’s pretty cool, but isn’t that a meme?
In foreign languages, people often talk about learning skills, but I’d warn you there’s way more than just listening or speaking, taking turns, and let me be reminded that you can’t read everything nor write anything.
That’s what motivated, I would assume, the recent digital marketing regulations, a theme of controversy in Europe. Whatever text and data mining really is, I think any of us would be disappointed to find out our greatest ideas have already been explored not by one or two, but one or two million. But here’s the good part: that’s completely ok, and might even be a fun thing after all.
So, back to the ocean… the internet is not one of our recognizable “natural” things, but for many — and hopefully that will make some eyes shine in the colleges here and there — it has always been. And what is natural for you, buddy? It really depends on an insanely large number of variables. I really don’t want to talk like this, but I also don’t want every little word I put in the text I wrote by myself, for free, for everyone, to have no value. The reply by the smarts, unfortunately, is this: shut up, you don’t know how to accurately describe the context of the word “value”. And I’d buy a fight. Look, symbol and system can only have meaning in a sociocultural context. And here’s mine: broke, needy, sad and oversharing. But nope, I don’t want any other fists than the bump.