Don’t talk to strangers, talk to rich people

If you’re an English teacher living in Brazil, this is totally for you. It’s not a class on personal branding, quick lessons on Adobe software tools, security tips from a tech enthusiast or even a grammar and usage for dummies kinda post; that would be ideal, I’d waste my time on that shit, but I’m sure right now what you want to know is how the hell it’s okay to see so many ads on social media that you’d pay not to see, and also, how to make money with a simple online class without thinking for months about the format. According to the president of the United States, as you know, there’s fine people on both sides (that’s a horrible joke, I was thinking of grammar nazis). But come on, I’m sure you have, at least once, opened a Word document and massacred your keyboard with lots of underscores and completely decontextualized but somehow acceptable uses of the verb to be, created a dialogue that you thought sounded real and maybe nobody would notice it was related to something that actually happened with you last week, took some random ass picture of a smiling woman from whatever site people wouldn’t find out about, and thought you were just doing your job; but then came Instagram, and now there’s Zoom, apparently. And apparently, we’re not ready: the features are amazing, but we don’t start working there by clicking a link on the official lottery page. It’s more like searching for a hot girl who gives you attention: not gonna happen, cause you’re into guys anyway, but let’s watch you go for it.

What I really wanted to say is we’re trying to be okay with the camera, but we’d never watch our own classes. And now we have to do much more than just recording. When it comes to searching for students, we’re total fucking amateurs. So yeah, give me those views, Facebook. Are you kidding, 20 bucks? I still haven’t processed that there are people who charge you 150 dollars for a million views on Instagram, and someone offered it to me to make me famous with my music, but I didn’t even have a bank account. And that’s how it goes, isn’t it? Play the tune: money-money-money-money (good luck with the falsetto). My personal belief is that the great teachers out there who are putting all efforts into daily micro classes definitely have a magic pill, while the big players are doing everything they can to go back to normal, and that means the classroom. But not everyone agrees that needs to happen. If you’re a more theory driven teacher, whether or not you’re starting now or you have years of frustrations with one model and crave for an opportunity with another or maybe you want to create your own and recently you’ve been thinking about how to put it into practice, I would gladly shake your hand, pat your back, hold you tight and say “bro, I know it’s tough, we’ll get through”. Focus, strength and faith. Or not: multiple unfinished referencial texts, wanting to sleep after 3 hours of Netflix and constant self doubt when you look in the mirror, who said these weren’t your most essential skills? But I know we can’t even shake hands right now, so I’ll offer you a virtual hug instead.

Advertising was never meant to attract people who wouldn’t buy anything. Yeah, sure, when my dad could pay for a dentist, I would read auto magazines every month, but instead of working my way up to be a responsible driver who knows everything about the car, I clearly made bad decisions cause I’ll give money to that random dude who says it’s 20 cents cheaper with his card — and to be honest with you, I walked to places for years because I didn’t have to ask for money. Yeah, I’m broke as fuck. But I don’t wanna use that as my crutchet. I’m sure you understand that learning English is somehow a privilege, and we have a terrible habit of using that to shame other people, including people who are basically just like you, but one class is laughing in the background while your students are more interested in the book design every time, or the wall, the ceiling, your clothes, sometimes… and we take all that so quietly it’s embarrassing. But what’s interesting is now we’re quiet about the whole go live or die thing, so before you spend your money on advertising you, think about a few things and maybe thank me later:

1) Social media means many things for many people

I didn’t understand the fundamentals of Thank You Next until I got dumped. Then I started to think “wait, everyone’s like that?” But it’s not about relationships at all. Actually, what the song suggests is that the importance of studying the concept of relevance in Logics, that stuff you learned in your Semiotics class with Britney Spears, is something people take for granted. What, you think they watch a video explaining the difference between tree and three and then start a conversation with a Russian chick saying “hm, I notice you have a particular way of realizing your unvoiced alveolar fricatives, how do you feel about that?” No, brother. Nobody even wants to know how many trees there are. They want you to shake your butt and be mean, cause this is Brazil. Ocasionally, though, you might find someone who wants to talk about Dostoevsky. I have a friend from Russia who’s into black metal and has Gogol originals in hard cover. Met her 8 years ago, she sends me pictures of dogs. Another, who’s basically the only person who still does a videocall with me, is a translator and loves Dave Chapelle. The internet can be great, you know. And we should focus on that (regardless of what people skip, we’re content curators, and if people don’t appreciate our constant effort to please literally everyone, at least we tried).

2) You’re not what you post, but you should post what you are

I can’t tell how many bios I’ve seen with a relationship status followed by their snap, but you know, I’m alive. Whatever you’ve read about AI, machine learning or even advertising, you know hashtags and keywords attract attention to a specific audience, so if a coursebook publisher from California starts following you out of nowhere, it’s not a glitch, don’t worry. But some people freak out just a little bit. Sure, we still vote on Big Brother, but we really want to know what we can do to be part of a conversation we actually looked for, if not a conversation we started (nothing is original, but recommended stuff is probably the best thing about the web until it’s the worst, and vice versa). A few months ago, my Instagram showed me a group called Represent Us was looking at my stories all the time, and so I went back to think how many times I mentioned Jennifer Lawrence on Twitter. Is this enough for me to keep making content or am I going to change my strategy completely because now it’s official? Maybe neither: I still mention people all the time, I haven’t closed up; I still think about stuff that has no explanation, but eventually it does. You follow the news because you want to understand the news; you follow the person who made the news because you like them, or at least how they talk. But where’s the line? It’s hard to say. What you can do is tell people what you want to talk about. You have a teaching account? Maybe don’t advertise for a revolutionary method. People would probably be a lot more interested if you said Stranger Things is cool (I watched half of the first episode, now I’m more into House of Cards but I’m basically 10 years late). But because I’m a musician, I’ll say Taylor Swift released an album called Reputation and we have a whole different way of looking at it, which might be worthy of discussion, even if your argument is “nothing wrong with golden showers, mister president.”

3) Professional goals may be personal losses

If you teach English in Brazil, you love when a programmer is one of your students. Or a head hunter, an architect, an events manager. But mostly, a programmer. I hate programmers. They make money by hacking into people’s private lives, don’t they? But they’re paying to learn cause they haven’t practiced enough with the vowels and they see their accent as an insecurity. Funny the way it is. That’s how people see us: you want to teach me how to speak the language of imperialism, you wanna paint your house red and blue, Bon Jovi is your favorite band, every time Stephen Colbert is on TV dubbing Trump’s voice you can’t stop laughing, you’d do anything for a chance to live in Florida. Actually, I would, but not in Orlando. Stephen Colbert is really smart, but he can be a pain in the ass. I hate seeing the flag. I’m torn with Bernie’s dropout. But I still wanna meet people. If these people are gonna have more money than I do, what can I say? I was doing a job that’s basically telling people they’re gonna be less embarrassed in the hotel reception than they would with no practice of common language. I’m here, writing tributes to Virginia Woolf on Tumblr, but who says that’s important? In fact, one way to think about it is art, the other, to many, is business. Work on those e-mail writing skills, maybe they won’t download Grammarly and count on you to give you tips instead. But you have to send a few e-mails too, cause if you don’t, it doesn’t really count. Your friends want to send you memes, but you were too busy on a Reddit forum or reading YouTube comments nobody would laugh about cause they don’t even know what they’re talking about. It’s all part of life. And well, if you meet someone, you’re gonna have to tell them what you do. And make no mistake: they’ll leave. But then you can pick another song on the recommended list and be happy with what you have: you actually understand.

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