Hotlines: organized response for human rights protection

My Hotmail account was created in 2003. Because I’m an English teacher (I wonder what the Russian would say), it’s worth mentioning that anything can be labelled “hot”. Look at Hotmart, a digital solutions company focusing online sales. The English language has terms such as “hot take”, to imply that a discussion might be interesting, but somehow inflammatory, provoking, triggering emotions that can get intense and disputes between members of the same community, while involving others with completely different perspectives, poking fun at the sore losers in a debate. But the witty wording is not an exclusively American asset, so to speak. What would happen if they were suddenly interested in Brazilian culture? A gringo comes to Santos, where I live, and sees booty after booty: girls laying down at the beach with tiny thongs on, and he wishes there was even less, but so much more he could do. He might have a flash of some kind of performance resembling a radically progressive anatomy class that he saw somewhere dark on the internet, though the lights were on and very strong, but then get confused when his pal turns to him saying: “Wanna go to McDonald’s? Big Tasty is on sale today”. And the replies… that could become a movie. “I always thought it was funny how you Brazilians say everything’s big. And I mean, tasty for a girl? We say girls are hot.”

So what, gringo? We say tasty. Sometimes, we say “big tasty” (or, in case you’re familiar with our language, “gostosona“). But we have our own taste, you see. So I could talk about the term “feed” when it comes to social media and spend some time debating recent declarations on the role of algorithms. I will not. Instead, I’d rather discuss “taste” as a cultural reference. Think of the old times, when Robert Plant sang about taking a girl to the movies. Another context, right? And maybe you’d suggest science fiction, but she says it’s “not her taste”. If you have the reference, of course, you know that “Houses of the Holy” is on the first side of the “cookie”, but on the second, in another unpretentious song, “Down by the Seaside”, the lyrics say that “people turn away”, this very “current” thing if we talk about social interactions, and the disappointment of it is expessed in a shift to a groovy section that later goes back to normality, happy vibes, slightly nostalgic, with slide guitar, a certain minimalism and harmonizing vocals with no words, just choir style singing.

In case you wanna watch.

Since I’m not the best at describing music and it gets very personal, I’ve dropped the link. But here’s the point: normalizing certain things is a cultural phenomenon. And no, I won’t quote Marx, because I can’t stress this enough: I haven’t read him.

What things do we normalize? Meet cool blogger, the person advocating for respect among internet users. I mean, if we’re being real, they should’ve created the “outernet” by now, cause I think people have had enough. Or maybe that’s just girls, whether you think they’re hot or not. Do you know their taste? A lingering question. But the main issue is: sweet guys exist; saturation of explicit experiences of sex makes these guys included behave like animals, but only while holding their phones. Is that the experience everyone shares? Maybe not. Think about a country where it’s always cold, Anna Karenina kind of cold. But I haven’t read this one either. Let’s go with Notes from Underground, by Dostoevsky. I don’t know whether that’s your taste or not, but the first section of the novel describes a social setting and deep internal conflict; the second involves meeting certain people, and the subtlety with which the male-to-female interaction is depicted is interesting to observe (I won’t extend this to readership, viewership, likeability or whatever crazy allegory you may think I’m holding on my sleeve). First, you have hierarchy: a male hierarchy, in workplace culture, keeping in mind that it’s Russia; then, you have another set, a personal experience exploration, although the internal conflicts of this public servant character have already been mapped out, and now we’re reading about how he acted. I read this book in 2015, so the memories aren’t quite as clear as of 2022; but imagine a Russian sex scene. You wonder why they were underground? You’d freeze!

So, coming back to the point: some things are hot; others are not. Does that depend on everyone’s perspective? Yes, people have different tastes. But is that only a sex-based, gender-based discussion? No, it’s not. Does a hot take make people extremely uncomfortable? Of course. Example? Original artists. You’d think I’m here talking about myself again, but I’m actually trying to mention the recent Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift commentary that I’ve read. There’s many artists who “don’t write their own material”. They perform though–better than you could ever do, several times a month. Of course, the artist doesn’t perform 5 times a day in different part of the world just be able to maintain prestige and rank; but well… what kind of performance are you talking about? And here’s the central question: “hotline”.

No, this isn’t about Drake, suprisingly. What is a hotline? Without dictionary checks, it’s a phone number you can call to, whenever you have an issue. That could be a company service such as customer support, but they call this specific thing by the name of customer support (in Brazil, “ouvidoria“, which would weirdly translate to “heardom”). There’s a contact section, and a “talk to us” section (again: in Brazil, “fale conosco” is a very formal proposal). But hotlines? They’re actually things like domestic abuse reporting, suicide prevention centers, community emergency networks, women or elderly support groups. Is it worth talking about them? Yes, it is. In Brazil, what you need to do if you’re a woman in distress is simply dial 180. Of course, in America, you know there’s 911, but don’t confuse this with our 190. The police has different tasks at hand, you see? Women protection networks or even those less mentioned services like mental health care systems and access to psychological and psychiatric treatments, public or private, have other numbers, addresses and offices (and some of them, let’s be honest, not very well-organized).

Now, how do we want these things to be organized? Can we propose changes? Can we make sure the policy is solid enough for a service to be offered at mass scale and be able to actually solve issues along with the people who need help, free of charge and without a need to consistently check up on the situation development? Well, then we have to talk about the law. The internet was created a while ago, but massive connection produced reactions in people who barely knew each other, or absolutely did not. And will not, ever. That is a completely different issue. Because, as for me, there’s many hot girls I’d like to meet. I’ve provided people with some hot takes and been given a pretty freaking cold treatment; roles have inverted and been repurposed, not always clearly or for the better. Am I proud? I can’t answer. But I’d like to think I have good taste, and people agreeing or not doesn’t necessarily need to be a big deal. And in case you need to actually use a hotline, or the block button on social media, make sure you have friends available to talk, first of all.

Image: Pexels

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