All posts by Ivo Escobar

Student of Linguistics. Media Researcher. Teacher and Musician from Brazil.

Did Google get this right? Location History is vague, but useful.

Just the other day, the thing I heard before going to sleep was a stranger saying: “guess what?” — and then I just sort of moaned feigning interest, actually tired and disappointed, as she continued — “I know where you live”. Before I could answer her, despite the numbness that we all feel once exposed to a kind of behavior that aims at your vulnerabilities to attack everything about you that, supposedly, people know very well, she disappeared. I’d debated this two years ago, with a student of mine: I was suggesting to him that the experience of talking to new people would be good to practice language skills, and I remember saying I’d found a browser extension that could identify the location of the person interacting with you, on the same specific “random chat” site where the girl came from — there are many instances of random chats today. He’s a CEO of a company working in development tools, so his advice was to definitely use it; I didn’t want to, but then the conversations changed a bit. Chatrooms; quick contacts who just met exchanging all sorts of messages; cameras on, off, or covered with something: it doesn’t matter. People are starting to say things because they think they should react in new ways to these “old people” on the internet disturbing their experience. But we want details.

Research in the UK, published by Ofcom (the British Office of Communications, run by government) shows that 187 thousand people visited Omegle in September 2021. You’d wonder if they made categories of interactions and built response strategies, which is doubtful, if you think about education. But there’s much more interesting stuff on the study, the “Online Nation Report 2022“: it says that users spent an average of 4 hours online, which seems like way too little; but doing what? And then we learn that 42 minutes are spent on Meta platforms (and several major companies are listed) while 1 hour and 45 minutes are spent on “others”. But what do you mean with “others”? Needless to say but valid to stress, it becomes hard to initiate dialogue on sensitive topics, if that becomes the main issue, hypothetically. Further, when the question is if you “feel free to be yourself online”, the answer is only 36% of them do. That is very revealing and should be a reason for major concern — seemingly, it’s not. When the question is if they can “share opinions and have a voice”, only 12% strongly agree, versus 6% who strongly disagree — you see, because free speech wins. The study also says that, by a small margin, “content harms” are a bigger problem (reported by 46% of people) than “contact harms” (45% point to this as the main issue); the “commercial harm” seems to pose a smaller risk (34% are worried about it). This could lead to important policy decisions, as the data is revealing only the direct response triggered by a question with a purpose; it doesn’t investigate how much teens and young adults, for example, know about the roles of advertising in the media they consume all day. Another very important finding shows that the risks of being online are, for 27% of people, “scams, fraud and phishing” (27% of users experienced that in 2021), while the big problem of the last decade, the “unwanted sexual message”, was cited by only 8%. And back to the first theme, but focusing on the other side, Ofcom says that 60% of women had experienced trolling, compared to 25% of men. If anyone still has doubts that Meta is the moderation champion of the internet, it matters to say that the study also found that 87% of adults use their communications platforms, WhatsApp being the most popular. But isn’t WhatsApp encrypted?

Women have a right to act they way they feel like. But on the internet, things got a little complicated when the new goal was to protect every woman from every harm, while not letting them speak about their possible benefits. Of course, you won’t see on this website an account of women organized to attack men because of their appearance, their financial means, their opinions and how they’ve articulated them; but that is a generous posture which acknowledges that the harms are real, I’m concerned with them, but it’s also undeniable that people, regardless of their gender (or sexual orientation, which should be free from judgment in the society we visualized long ago), want to experience the benefits of interactions with the opposing sex, and feel free to explore those. It turns out that when you have a constant state of vigilante culture acting on people’s subconscious, a woman feels entitled to say she knows where I live, while I’m supposed to be aware that this is probably because she’s received threats (whether on Snapchat or email, at school or wherever it was), most likely from men, and decided to fight back. But she also decided to say this to me, a blogger constantly posting about security in apps that track geolocation. For a woman on the internet, it’s acceptable to post a long Twitter thread saying that she got heavily monitored by her abusive boss, and maybe one time, when she had just finished listening to her favorite album, which reminded her of the beautiful relationship she had with the man she thought she was going to marry, but received a job proposal abroad and decided to move, a co-worker asked about him on WhatsApp, while she wasn’t even done sobbing to the soundtrack. All normal, nothing dystopian.

I just thought, maybe because of where I interacted with this person, that she was a troll. An article from the Atlantic suggests that the way to deal with trolls is to just ignore them; it also makes comments on anonymity, saying one should take responsibility for their words and actions, shedding light on the fact that online trolls are typically also offline trolls. While the psychological analysis might be more difficult to do, it’s a point to start: we’d like to preserve our reputation, and wouldn’t want other people finding out that we behave in a way seen mostly as negative; but we also learn, as the vehicle reminds us on a different linked story, that certain users are rewarded for abusive behavior, given the engagement they produce. The more pernicious, possibly non-complacent discussions are related to the not yet reported uses of the internet: if calling someone a bitch is light injury, sometimes even friendly, then what happens when you go down, and then keep going? Abusive behavior is called that because it exhibits a pattern, not seen as an isolated event, and context matters a lot — that’s why we have moderators, surveillance tools and the police itself, if you extend that to a more general view of abuse and violence, whether it’s discourse or action. But we’re navigating a dangerous path by attempting to market globalized postures and lifestyles in a world that will inevitably reject certain postures and lifestyles, for certain people.

It becomes relevant, if not top priority, to think about your own security. And many have said that we are carrying tracking devices in our pockets. This blog has alerted to this feature being used for malicious purposes, and also disclosed that security questions can force unwanted disclosures, when attention seems to be scaling up while it shouldn’t — and while it’s a user’s right, when it’s every user’s right, to have control over how data is processed and used. If every business had to worry about people coming into their workplace and wanting to steal something, nobody would do business. If every man or woman, young or old, had to worry about who might have access to their location and for what purpose they’d use this information, they’d certainly be less likely to go out at all. And while doing that, they’d be more careful about home office, which is what every company praised, with little training on best practices and, in my experience, a message “not to worry” about security or even bother that a certain tool was not accessible via Chrome, for instance, while Firefox made it possible. To put the blame in the companies that didn’t care for security configurations is to ask too much from people who have to worry about that in their own lives, and are trying to preserve an array of interoperations that requires strategic planning and clear policies. Facebook shows you every device you’re logged in from; them and Twitter, along with other companies, notify new logins via email, unless you opt out. These are ways of protecting users; but somehow, when we review our activity, there are logins we weren’t notified of. Then we have to ask: is it Google?

Google gave us pretty much everything we needed, and we’re not thankful enough. An entire generation grew up with the privilege of knowing the answer to a question simply by typing (or even asking out loud, after clicking an icon on the screen) what they wanted to know so badly. Our contacts are stored on our Android devices, the most popular operational system for smartphones in the world. We have documents, plenty of tools and YouTube alone could make us busy, entertained and inspired for as long as we need to, and more than that: the experience can get better based on how much we interact, giving feedback in the form of likes, comments and shares. But when it comes to our identification, it seems that there are things we don’t want people to know. Maybe I wouldn’t tell my Tinder date the song that made me cry the most this year, maybe I would; but definitely not my employer. In turn, I wouldn’t like my working buddies or my clients to know that I just checked in at this motel, and two phones were placed side by side. Unfortunately, this is where technology led us, and social media can mean one thing on the surface while it means another on a deeper level, where every step is analyzed. Without GPS, Uber wouldn’t exist. But whether location history can be used in creative ways instead of a surveillance tool (which has a clear, but debatable purpose when you think about minors, for example) is still something we can only hope for when we think of advertising, accepting that connectivity invites us to take more chances in life, instead of being enclosured in the same space for years on, waiting on a better life and the help of some divine entity to bring change for the better. Curiously, that might make us look onto the future we want, and the future we’ll actually have — in ways we’ll have to deal with more maturely than we currently are, for a better harmony in society.

The concept of trust: a millennial wraps it up for the Gen Z

No, I’m not going to talk about my past relationships again. Let’s suppose you’re in college, and it’s time for fun. But it’s not, you see: you’re supposed to apply yourself to the study of all the hard matters in the field of your choosing, and so you have thick books and essays to hand in. Nomenclature, definitions, debates in class that you took notes from. Eventual connections with theories you’ve read. An idea to search for a reference that your professor gave to the class in case they were interested, a mention on a slide whose name you thought was appealing, just like some kind of headline. You don’t get much of those, you prefer to keep your personal space. And it’s healthy. But you’re single, and you’d like to keep it that way — it’s been working.

A lot of people going through the college experience don’t realize that published studies are only mentioned when they have some kind of breakthrough analysis and conclusions, which point out to directions of future research, with a mindset of improvement that spans widely or creatively enough. To get there, you need to read carefully materials that, at least in American university culture, come with condensed formats: “look at all the knowledge I have and you don’t. But you know what? Maybe don’t look at it, just admit I’m smarter than you”. But it’s literally a reference you could easily grab and look into for yourself. There are libraries, free ones. There’s Amazon, of course. And while some people have strong opinions about the company, what it’s done for the publishing business is incredible, but deserves a longer debate. You’re not likely to find good sources on Academia, the website. That idea just flunked, pretty much like Cope and Kalantzis’ Scholar, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. You see, Microsoft wanted to influence research, and that’s good; but does it have to come from a leading tech company in the world?

What I did was I spent some time in the library, but most of all, I picked a good quote. And then I took a piece of paper, or maybe even the notepad. I wrote keywords, catch phrases and technical terms that I took out of my, uh, head. One of them was “participatory fluency”. In observance of student engagement dropping with the rise of social networks, I turned myself to approaches with smaller groups, adopted by most schools, and came to conclude that individual teaching had pros and cons. “One on one”: that was my initial trigger, all the way back in 2017. I hadn’t picked up the legal debate books, the philosophy compilations, the geopolitical analysis, the finance stuff. About the latter, it was mostly TV, because everything else was paywalled. It took me over a year to actually understand what those people were talking about. And I’d even watched classes at Yale available on YouTube, besides those Khan Academy videos, which helped me figure out, for example, what Vygotsky argued — I was gonna need that for my coming Master’s application. And I passed. But that story is apparently hidden from the public, and it is, at least to me, very enraging. I could’ve transformed education, or at least made my way up to become one of the presenters of an event associated with TESOL, the biggest ESL institution in the world (and they used to follow me on Twitter, which happened right when I joined). What stopped me was a desire to understand things not on a corporate level, where you focus on tasks, but instead, human narratives, interactions, interests, affinities, and the floating concept of desire.

You can’t find a single internet user who’s not succumbing to appealing content in media. And that can present itself in many ways. There was a time, a particularly long stretch, considering everything that happened on the platform, where I thought poetry was the right kind of content for Tumblr, the old go-to place for porn that wasn’t mainstream and didn’t mix up advertising with freaking cassinos or offered Russian webcams to watch. The Russians, by the way, are never very explicit, or not at all. You hear a playlist, and at the very best, see some tiddies and a tongue out. Nothing else. Meanwhile, gangsta rap in a language you don’t understand. But I digress. Sort of, actually: my last relationship had a crack on trust when I decided, for literal five minutes, to stop working on a translation project (which, I believe, was a very well-done job, about 130 pages long of a movie script) to watch a girl masturbate. I was having what they call acute respiratory syndrome, but nobody even freaking cared to diagnose it. I’m poor, I don’t have a specialist in pneumology to see how healthy my lungs are and to explain to me: “look, you gotta be careful about the smoking, but it does reduce anxiety. You just have to balance it with a good diet and you’ll be fine, but this is indispensable, as well as staying hydrated”. But I won’t comment on other trust issues in this relationship. I felt something very unique, but it turns out that she saw things in a completely different light; and I anticipated it, I knew all the philosophy and practice of the company she worked for, bottom down, backwards, flipped on a pancake with maple syrup or raw. She didn’t believe me. It doesn’t matter, because her work is probably what’s going to attract people not to this website, but to another, and I welcome that kind of competition, which probably pushes for innovation. I’m just not looking forward to sit in a bar with one of the clients, which apparently she was hoping for all along. Great girl, no need to mention names.

Online, though, everyone is a suspect. We can’t seem to trust anyone anymore, but our habits are kind of an indicator that we’re not even fucking trying. The new generation is: 1) judgmental; 2) mean; 3) self-involved to the point of actually marketing themselves, meaning on their Instagram and TikTok profiles, on purpose and very carefully; 4) busy expanding the network, just for the numbers, not for connections of value; 5) obvious trolls, lying every chance they get to have a screenshot to show the newest group of friends and make them block you too because you said this or that; 6) absolutely incompetent, because of their narcissism, to read anything legal; 7) not worried about your mental health, but quickly making up new profiles in case theirs is taken over; 8) vain, to the point where you wanna throw up or scream insults at your phone; 10) wannabes, in every category. How did I come up with all this? Well, that is called field research. Finest line of ethics a man could walk, and I’m not shy to disclose a leaning towards some of the genderfluid ideals. I could make a list of the things I looked for among the people who stayed with me in the last 10 years, looking for international contact. Trust would be a tag I’d attribute to few. Appeal would be a tag I’d attribute to many. Distrust? I’d have to apply that to almost all.

There are reasons why we can’t seem to trust anymore. Demand, baby. You’re offered new, better content. Of course you have to pay for the masterclass, the coaching session, the plan to start your business: whether it’s an educational project, a liquor shop or a music studio, it’s going to show up on your feed. But then you’re suddenly dealing with people, who curiously aren’t considered people anymore, but customers. On the personal side, “social media has turned us all into brand ambassadors of happiness and beautiful moments”, the DW documentary “Dictatorship of Happiness” says. That’s the bigger turn of social media: it’s not social anymore, it’s marketable. And marketable media has a lot of secrets — and you have a lot of catching up to do. Yes: social media became marketing. Fuck socialism, praise venture capital. But going further, we see reports that advertising is not exactly seen as a bad player: a brand’s identity is associated with trust on 84% of cases. You wonder who runs these studies, but of course you’re free to do your research. Sometimes, though, you won’t find what you did (that nobody likes ads), because they’re paying to remove negative reviews. Shouldn’t we be asking where those brands came up from, and how their ads were shown? That would reveal distrust, or at least irritation, from app users who don’t want their experience to be interrupted or peeked on by people wanting to sell things. But the real challenge, again, is how to make this clear for people seeking connections, which can’t possibly be marketed as an experience: this is life, not a computer game.

It’s true that our friends are judging us. Your romantic partner has friends too, and so it’s a complex interplay. Ideally, there would be a strong support network merging and potentially creating memories to keep, filled with joy and a sense of an accomplished mission at the end of a hangout with the people you truly care about. That is, if you’re not addicted to internet connections, or internet feeds. Being disconnected from what’s happening around you and focusing on what others are saying is not the ultimate recipe for maintaining good health, but neither is getting a fully live feed of news you need to know — unless you wanna bet on Post News, the newest thing. For a lot of people, it’s more interesting to see what your friends are up to, but you’ll be skipping on that stuff, most likely, and at best clicking twice with your thumb — and that is all the “support” you can give. Isn’t it natural that people notice? Isn’t it natural to expect more, and to request for more? You’ll also want to give more. Everyone wants trust to be mutual, because that is how we define trust: mutual expectations. We just can’t ignore the social gaps that, curiously enough, social media ignores by design.

Cost of living? Food prices? Let’s take a look at how much Brazilians spend.

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When I look back at the things I wrote down in my teens, using the internet for the first time, I always remember this message posted on my girlfriend’s page, where I said “I love you more than Del Valle juice”. For those not acquainted, of course fruits are a big market in Brazil, having registered a profit of nearly a billion real in 2020. Some people buy them at the supermarket, others in open fairs; but it’s part of our culture and something we learned from our grandparents. My grandpa, at some point, preferred the powdered juice, because it was more practical and also cheap. Since we didn’t buy any fancy brands, it was literally 1 real to make a whole jar for everyone to drink at lunch. 30 real a month. Add that up.

Of course, for lunch, we never had too much variety, but it was mostly things my grandma cooked easily and for years on. I never really liked the chayote, but we ate that a lot with ground meat. Eggplants too, the same way. Then my grandpa cooked manioc, sweet potatoes and the regular, big ones. Carrots were for the salad, with lettuce and sometimes arugula. Vegetables like pods and peas, pumpkins and zucchini, were always brought home and prepared with some olive oil and maybe things like parsley to make it more interesting, along with onions and garlic. Rice and beans, of course, are essentials of Brazilian cuisine, and sausage to cook with the beans. There’s also things like salt and sugar that eventually you have to buy. They liked to eat meat that wasn’t too expensive (depending on the cut), and also fish sometimes. Maybe one day my dad would make some pancakes (the one he used to make with shrimp, along with his eggplant recipe with tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables, actually made us avoid many fights at home). Sometimes we’d do something with cabbage and cauliflower. We ate bread for breakfast, sometimes with some kind of dairy product or ham, but mostly not even butter, choosing margarine instead; then again in the evening. And today, I’ll tell you all that has been reduced to a minimum. For example, we drink water for lunch. There’s also pasta, which saves us every time. No dairy, just margarine. How much would that cost, at the end of the month?

There’s a big supermarket chain that is run by one the the billionaires in Brazil, Abílio Diniz. His business is so successful he was invited to host a program on CNN Brasil to talk about how he sees the future of the economy. I’ll use Carrefour, his business, to make a list of all the things I’ve mentioned (and of course there are more, some months less; but I wanna make this interesting. Father asks the son: “would you go downstairs and buy some stuff to bring home?” — and then hands out a list. Maybe, since we’re all doing it, you’d buy it all online and pay some tax for delivery. I’d skip the sections where these product are, cause we all figure that out eventually, don’t we? But it’ll be interesting if you can visualize yourself in the supermarket.

FOR VEGETABLES
chayote – R$12.79 (3kg)
eggplants – R$16.38 (2kg)
manioc – R$15,98 (2 vacuum packs of 700g)
sweet potatoes – R$12.87 (3kg)
potatoes – R$17.97 (3kg)
arugula – R$7.99 (pack)
tomatoes – R$25.18 (2kg)
pods – R$8.39 (400g)
peas – R$14.36 (4 cans)
pumpkins – R$9.42 (whole)
zucchini – R$9.78 (2kg)
pepper – R$20.89 (1kg)
cabbage – R$9.78 (2 packs)
cauliflower – R$11.39 (1 pack)

FOR SPICES AND CONDIMENTS
olive oil – R$17.69 (1 liter bottle)
parsley – R$3.19 (pack)
onions – R$19.98 (2kg)
garlic – R$11.79 (600g)
salt – R$1.87 (1kg)
sugar – R$5.99 (1kg)

FOR MEAT
shrimp – R$49.38 (400g)
meat – R$50.49 (1kg rump steak beef)
sausage – R$23.89 (1kg)
fish – R$77.29 (1kg)
ham – R$12.58 (400g)
ground meat – R$41.69 (1kg)

FOR DAIRY
margarine – R$19.18 (2 packs of 500g)

FOR GRAINS
rice – R$17.39 (5kg)
beans – R$12.78 (2 packs of 500g)
flour – R$4.39 (1kg)
bread – R$381.60 (6 units, morning and night, 30 days)
pasta – R$16.36 (4 units of 500g)

OTHERS
powdered juice – R$30 (30 units)

Okay, that’s a lot.

Now, I assume that you’d be taking out some of that stuff. But a few things pop my eyes out: the price of pepper, for example. It’s a strong spice, for sure, and you won’t always use it, but it really doesn’t have to be that expensive, I think. Of course we live in Brazil, not in Mexico, so maybe that applies. Also, what everyone’s been talking about: the price of meat. There are families who eat meat every day: rice, beans and beef, maybe with an egg (I didn’t include that on the list because you don’t go to the supermarket for that, I think you might get it in one of the cars that passes by your street — or not). Meat got very expensive, and I chose a cut that’s cheaper than most. It also surprises me that even for the standards we have today (where a lot of these items would never be included on the list, especially freaking shrimp, or fish), we do eat 12 units of bread every day, sometimes less when I’m not hungry, in particular (my sleep patterns are horrible); still, that’s a lot of money. What you need to know, before I give you the actual total of this monthly purchase, is that we get rice, beans and a few other condiments from a “basic needs basket” that comes in a carton box every month from my aunt. Some social assistance institutions and NGOs provide that for families. But we still have to buy the bread and other stuff. And there you go: just the bread is expensive enough to make us, living with R$600 a month from the government’s social program, have to cut expenses to the maximum. Of course you remember that we have other bills to pay, right? I honestly don’t know what my dad is doing.

Total amount (for a Brazilian lower lower-class family): R$968.13.

Add to that an internet combo of TV, landline and internet, which goes for R$94.99 with the ISP Vivo; add to that a R$200 electricity bill; add to that a R$150 water bill; also add the condominium, which averages R$200, sometimes more.

The actual total expenses for the Brazilian lower class family is around R$1613.12. That’s 300 dollars.

Before people started talking about inflation, minimum wage in Brazil was R$1100. The increase did not adjust to inflation, but as the story from Brasil de Fato points out, the adjusted value is a little over two hundred dollars.

I could talk about how some people loved to watch Anthony Bourdain. I’d say how some people adapt, being vegans. Or maybe I would finish with a strong paragraph, and quote some marxist theory, because Brazil is, after all, among the world leaders in food production, and we should own what we produce. I could say that Class E, the lowest in Brazil, makes from zero to R$1429, while adding class D would make about half of the Brazilian population. But instead, I have a genuinely blunt question: isn’t it time for us to think about what’s the real concern for Wall Street? Because I don’t think a trader would be happy with 300 dollars a month.

Inventaram a mensagem que desaparece. E aí, nossas amizades inventaram de desaparecer.

A primeira rede social popularizada no Brasil, em tempos onde mal havia cobertura de rede e número expressivo de usuários online, apesar do engano de interpretação dos dados (muitos se registraram, mas isso não significa que usavam a rede com frequência, principalmente nos padrões de hoje), foi o Orkut — ressalte-se: criado por um empreendedor turco de mesmo nome. Pouco se fala sobre as lan-houses, que proporcionaram o fenômeno da inclusão digital; menos ainda sobre como se deu esse dito “fenômeno”: era tudo muito novo, e uma imagem do seu rosto visualizada por um grupo de pessoas maior do que aquelas da sua convivência, ou mesmo aquele determinado círculo, com o detalhe de estarem agora sozinhos na frente de um computador (com a exceção das lan-houses, é claro), foi a grande virada. O Fotolog também se popularizou, mas o Orkut fez discussões virem à tona; foi uma primeira demonstração de como as pessoas pensavam e se comportavam; não apenas no ambiente virtual, quaisquer fossem as condições sociais, mas também numa análise de como os outros reagiam e se esforçavam ou não para debater abertamente, respeitosamente, e por aí vai. O número das “comunidades” crescia, assim como a interação, ou engajamento, mas com tópicos ora supérfluos, ora duvidosos ou simplesmente suspeitos; mas também se observavam ferramentas testadas de utilidade questionável, como a exibição dos perfis que visitaram a sua página, alimentando o comportamento que chamamos de “stalking”, ou “perseguição digital” — o que hoje é crime — e aplicativos claramente voltados para faixas etárias que mal poderiam estar na rede, como aqueles joguinhos que eram acoplados à página de perfil (uma matéria do Olhar Digital explica que a idade mínima é 13 anos, mas a questão da supervisão é bem mais complexa, como aponta o Canal Tech), e esses jogos voltaram a entrar em destaque dentre os esforços para gerar lucro dentro do Facebook, o que acabou em processos por uso indevido de dados (entre outros casos maiores, que fizeram a empresa pagar 5 bilhões de dólares em multa), alguns deles antes de se regular a proteção por meio da chamada GDPR (aqui no Brasil, a LGPD, aprovada em atraso por absoluta incompetência e uma bela dose de má-fé). Já se falou muito sobre esses casos, mas o próprio Google dá a opção de se cadastrar no aplicativo específico para jogos, e não sabemos como isso influencia a segurança do usuário; mas se sabe que são 5 bilhões (eu não acabei de escrever esse número?) de downloads e o CEO quer que jogos continuem sendo um dos nortes da experiência de usuário.

Mas são tantos de nós que não dão a mínima para joguinhos, nunca clicariam num deles (principalmente depois dos casos de vazamento de dados) e querem interagir com pessoas e fortalecer a rede de contatos e influência! Não é mais tempo de Orkut, nem de Facebook. Entretanto, o Instagram aposta em anúncios como nunca (em 2019, foram 20 bilhões de dólares em lucro através dos anunciantes), e não existe, por design, um aplicativo que bloqueie anúncios no celular — eu verifiquei, e a única opção, isso lá em 2014, era o aplicativo russo AdGuard). Assimilamos, então, a presença do marketing como algo natural. Mas isso não é um desenvolvimento de mídia ou comunicação; na verdade, trata-se de um déficit na educação de jovens para que possam ter experiências onde suas vidas não sejam transformadas em produto; e aqui, digo “déficit” pois nada disso foi proposto na educação, com um debate crítico sobre tecnologias e a cultura tech, que é basicamente o ponto central da proposta deste blog. Empresas gigantescas como o Google vão empurrar anúncios pois ganham muito dinheiro de seus anunciantes; não são apenas pessoas preocupadas com o nosso bem-estar, volumosas almas bondosas e caridosas, cuidando de nós enquanto passamos tempo olhando para a tela; na verdade, se formos novamente falar no consumo e do hábito, sem filtros, vamos chegar à constatação de que o fator monetização é mais complicado do que se imagina para adultos, e entre senhas salvas e falta de autenticação em duas etapas, estamos com nossas informações em risco, na mão de anunciantes com ferramentas de busca de clientes, que podem ou não fazer mau uso desses dados. No caso de grandes coorporações e de governos, isso é feito muito cuidadosamente, e diga-se de passagem, faltam investigações.

Mas como vamos conversar, então? Não se usa mais aquela plataforma, não se fala mais daquele jeito… o que restou? Restou, argumento, o desejo de falar com alguém confortavelmente, sozinho, mas em companhia. As videochamadas não são monetizadas, a não ser que você acesse um site adulto e pague as tokens (quer saber mais? Leia esse artigo e veja o link sobre Wire Transfers). Evidentemente, não queremos conversar com uma pessoa que tem, como é o caso de muita gente que faz parte dessa cultura ou subcultura de streaming, 10 mil usuários logados assistindo — e mesmo que a conversa seja informal, como é o caso dos podcasts que chegam a um milhão de visualizações ao vivo, certamente não vamos ter uma conversa com os participantes. Será que foi pra isso que nos inscrevemos em redes sociais? Conversar com gente bonita e famosa? Ou será que ainda nos importamos com os interesses e projetos de vida de cada um, com a sua história, com seus traços, com o que têm a dizer, e podemos construir relacionamentos de valor ou mesmo um flerte bacana? Poderia me estender sobre esse último ponto, mas tenho uma noção de ética e também de jurisprudência, para o azar dos haters.

O que vejo é que o streaming se transformou em algo a mais. Hoje, posso compartilhar minha experiência online completa com alguém: basta habilitar o compartilhamento de tela. Mas isso foi uma ferramenta desenvolvida lá atrás. O Skype experimentou com isso, muito antes do Google Meet ou mesmo do Zoom, dentre outros sites que permitem o mesmo, e ainda a exibição em tela de um vídeo do YouTube (mas que pode ser de outro site) enquanto as pessoas interagem. Isso dá pano pra manga no debate pedagógico… e já citei o Whereby no Twitter, mas não sei se muitas das minhas ideias podem ser realmente postas em prática. Por quê? Porque está tudo no ar. Desde que o Snapchat lançou seu modelo, com mensagens que desapareciam, foram surgindo debates acerca da maior segurança do usuário. Podem me odiar o quanto quiserem, mas o Snap é a plataforma que mais coloca em risco justamente quem está mais em risco por natureza: o público jovem. Acesso à localização exata em tempo real, email e senha passíveis de serem hackeadas, robôs, fakes e outros tipos de inconveniências: tudo isso foi mais ou menos naturalizado, mas o combate se deu de baixo pra cima, não de cima pra baixo — o que pode não ser um mau sinal, mas indica, de fato, que demoraram a agir para proporcionar uma experiência mais segura. Se o aplicativo foi criado para enfatizar privacidade — o grande atrativo — e a resposta foi um zilhão de capturas de tela, então ninguém realmente respeita privacidadde coisa nenhuma, e tá tudo errado. Mas foi assim que este que escreve foi banido do app — e também, é claro, por falar abertamente que o patrocínio do futebol e de jogos (parece que tenho um problema com esse nicho, hein?) beirava ao absurdo.

Hoje, não estamos mais nas lan-houses. Cada um com a sua situação social, 90% dos domicílios têm banda larga no Brasil, mas é importante dizer que são 42% de computadores, um número muito baixo (paga-se pelo combo de internet e TV, mas o celular é mais barato do que um desktop ou laptop). E o que buscamos? Dentre os 500 milhões de usuários do Tinder, dado de 2021, uma boa parcela é brasileira. Mas não se abandonam os outros aplicativos. Procuramos emprego, mas também queremos memes. Buscamos informações, mas queremos postar fotos no espelho. Não julgamos tanto… mas ô se julgamos. E parece que o Snapchat acertou sim: queremos privacidade. Nesse processo, nos fechamos na nossa bolha. Mesmo no WhatsApp, o aplicativo que promete criptografia de ponta-a-ponta (para que ninguém possa ler suas mensagens), ficamos com poucas pessoas na nossa lista de contatos com quem falamos mais frequentemente, e daí, quando acaba o assunto, vamos procurar outras. Queremos expandir nossas possibilidades. Veja, o Facebook conseguiu conectar quase 3 bilhões de pessoas. Podemos conhecer muita gente! Mas vamos usar o Facebook pra isso? E a privacidade?

Entramos, então, num círculo vicioso, onde buscamos novos contatos, e esquecemos da nossa própria identidade, abdicando dela para que seja possível ter uma nova (ou melhor, para que não se perca de vista que temos direito de procurar pessoas para conversar sem que ninguém nos note e sem a perturbação dos anunciantes). Não são contas “fake”, mas sim tentativas de falar com gente nova fugindo da inseguridade da possível divulgação das nossas informações. É fácil descobrir onde alguém mora, com recursos. Hoje, temos reconhecimento facial; os bancos usam biometria, inclusive a fintech, tudo pelo celular. O Snapchat, novamente, faz um escaneamento do seu rosto e o transforma no que chamam de “bitmoji”, uma versão caricata que você pode vestir do jeito que quiser — até que queira despir, e encontre a grande inconsistência da política de uso e privacidade da empresa, que não é nada boba, mas poderia ter um pouquinho de vergonha na cara e tomar um belo de um processo federal, assim como aconteceu com o Facebook. Ferramentas que esta última rede tinha nos primórdios foram desabilitadas (atividade dos usuários em tempo real numa aba lateral, ou no aplicativo do Instagram; alertas da localização em tempo real dos usuários, embora alguns ainda usem o check-in). Mas não estamos muito preocupados com o que nossos amigos pensam disso tudo, e sim os anunciantes, que detém nossos dados. A não ser que seja o contrário.

Se no Snapchat as mensagens desapareciam, hoje, nossos amigos resolveram desaparecer. Têm mais o que fazer: não pergunte detalhes, mas estão “na correria, né?” — e dizemos entender, que também “tá foda”, etc. Mas pouco se conversa sobre a vida digital, mesmo entre próximos. Isso já é um problema na família, e parece ser entre amizades também. Imagine então que o algoritmo do Instagram sugira que você siga uma pessoa. Mesmo com as configurações especificamente desabilidas para a sincronização de contatos, você acha uma pessoa, outra, mais outra… e descobre que elas se conhecem. Mas aí já é tarde: você comentou nas fotos, e elas leram. E ainda é uma conta anônima, com outra identidade. Qual vai ser a conversa? Será que elas se importam em discutir isso? O quão longe vai essa conversa? E aí, de repente, você procura outras fontes: os reels, o explore. Dá like em algumas das muitas ofertas de conteúdo — que são nada mais do que isso: 1) ofertas; 2) conteúdo. Não são pessoas que você vai conhecer; elas já têm mais de 50 mil seguidores. Ficou maluco? Nunca vão falar com você. Mas de repente você encontra alguém que tem uns 20, 30. E de repente, o algoritmo sugere sua tia. É assim que os amigos vão embora: nessa busca fútil e contrária aos seus princípios; tola, desmedida e absolutamente improdutiva, o tempo passa, e os que têm empregos fazem o serviço e depois se dedicam a tarefas simples. Nos aplicativos, postam o necessário, visualizam o possível. Mas não têm tempo para procurar outras identidades e aventuras, como você. Lhe abandonam, porque você ainda se comporta como um jovem. Mas o detalhe, cuja importância merece um livro, é que não entendem o contexto de fora, de tantas das pessoas que você conheceu e contou tudo sobre o que você sentia por alguém, o que aconteceu contigo, e que suas amizades nem ficaram sabendo. Depois, voltam falando: “e aí”; “foi mal, só vi agora”. E fica a dúvida: faziam o mesmo ou verificavam o que os outros, incluindo você, faziam? Nunca vamos ter essa resposta, pois interagimos com muita gente. E assim andamos em círculos… com momentos mínimos de satisfação e um potencial destruidor para a nossa saúde mental — sem que as empresas e seus investidores paguem por isso.

When we have new media, we have new powers. Just don’t ask for whom.

I grew up in a time where my grandpa had this sort of safe, a triangular wooden thing with a layer of fabric on top and this upward opening door that produced a particularly memorable high pitched noise. It was brown, maybe pastel, but some people would say it had shades of green; this piece of furniture went well with the beige wall, which is absolutely nothing special, but it was, has always been, will always be my grandparents’ home. The floor is what the architects, designers or whatever call “demolition floor”, consisting of tiles of brownish, reddish rectangles all stacking up and this natural aspect of random patterns of saturation, if you look at it from a more modern perspective. But the rest of the furniture doesn’t matter. The Cross at the wall, the sculpture of Virgin Mary, the big mirror that came later. The border ceiling styled cast. The fact that one day we had a cleaning lady, and decades later, everyone became too pissed off to do a single thing, ending up not doing anything at all. The floor stays dirty, the bathroom is a disgusting mess, with a toilet which used to be perfectly clean, now having these stains at the bottom that we took too long to take out and now look like this crusty dirt patch, but of course it’s not dirt; the objects near the kitchen window, where the washing tank is, next to the gas cylinder and the cleaning products. Ok, nobody needs to know. This isn’t The Sims and I’m pretty sure this home isn’t going to have a user of Oculus Rift. What I wanted to tell you about was that little pastel safe. The newspapers from the entire year were stored there. Grandpa John (his actual name being João, in Portuguese) didn’t buy newspapers every day, but he maybe my dad was the one buying. I honestly don’t remember. I do have some flashes of grandpa trying to hold onto the large pieces and them falling off, because he was not a very delicate man, thick hands worn out and wrinkled, and he was getting even older. He could peel some potatoes, slowly, patiently, singing a song, after going to buy them himself, all that nearing his 80th birthday. He used to work at the port. It was carrying stuff on his back, as we’ve seen on the historical pictures, but also stuff that we don’t really know about. Just that it was at the port. I don’t think anyone would understand that when you fast forward 20 years, or not even that, we have not just all the markets and live analysis of supply and demand, but all media vehicles in the world at the palm of our hand, along with pictures of other people’s homes from different angles, in all kinds of situations, except they’re the protagonists, the main elements in photographic framing. At some point, my dad would buy a subscription of a magazine, and I’d read it carefully. I was actually more interested in reading the gaming reviews, and they had specialized magazines for that. I got every issue. Every time we crossed the newsstand, it was worse than peanut candy at the bakery or popcorn at the movie theater. To be fair, we still share a love of peanuts until this day, and if you make a joke about that I’ll probably giggle and we’ll get along. But have you seen an 8 year old reading magazine reviews and interested in the journalism? Well, because that happened, maybe that’s where we are.

I’m not sure what the 8 year olds are doing. I guess gaming is a phenomenon that we have to approach more seriously, because as an industry it drives billions. I guess we have to talk about children’s shows. I guess we have to talk about the diets. The moderation in language. Someone could probably make up a meme with this or that politician speaking, a child watching them on a flat screen connected to the internet, big Dolby speakers on, and the kid is dressed as a monkey; then the concerned, vigilant mom gently puts the monkey hands over the kid’s ears, so they wouldn’t hear that kind of tone. A wrap up would be the monkey again, this time with emoji-likeness. This would incentivize the use of deaf monkey emojis. Maybe with some brainstorming, you could get the team to work on the mute monkey, this time a lonely boy or girl — and then the team would split in the creative room — sitting in the corner of a couch while a bunch of friends were having drinks, dancing, posing for pictures, talking about people in school. Lonely teen sitting at the corner of the couch. Deaf emoji. “This time we could have something provocative”, the marketing strategist would propose. “Maybe we should explore the positives on this one. We all have people we think are annoying. It’s not about the loneliness, it’s about the choice of being alone. Can you work on that? I’ll leave you to it then.” And so the team would be slightly confused, slightly pressured. The conversation at break would be about how to apply the concept of the monkey with his hands on his mouth to the concept of silencing, but the word was actually “muting”. The feature, soon to be rolled out by the app and website, would allow people to personalize their experience online while still looking as if they were giving each of their follows the same kind of attention. “But then, you’d need to unmute, right? I mean, it’s probably gonna be hard to measure, but if you’re on it; then you wanna focus on something for a while, maybe that could be an entire week. I’ll go newsless for an entire week, focus on my friends, you know? Then you got a tab showing who you’ve muted and you can just unmute when you wanna catch up, maybe show what you’ve missed”. But what about the emoji? This isn’t about the news. This is, indeed, about loneliness. And while some people smoke discussing the features that would be rolled out and how to please consumers and partners, the socially awkward guy is thinking about something else: duct tape, not emoji. If you put duct tape on your mouth, that’s a powerful symbolic concept. But can you imagine people associating it to other related uses? Suddenly, mouth gags, nipple clamps, cock rings. “No, it’s really about the monkey. You can show a kid throwing a banana at the monkey in the zoo, and then the monkey throwing the banana back, and hitting the kid’s eye. The kid starts crying, and the mom is like… it’s okay honey. It’s just a stupid monkey”. Wrapping this up as anecdotal and fictional, not much of a cautionary tale that people seem to think Mad Men was, or The Office was: not everyone is being heard in the media, the social media, and it’s definitely not the case that we’re still reading about what’s happening in the world whenever we read the newspaper. Grandpa wouldn’t be able to handle this; he’s gone, but he has a legacy.

Some people are more focused on visuals than others. Despite the fact, unknown the many, that reading can foster a creative mind that allows you to “see the world” when you’re reading a text, that spanning to decades before, and experiencing it through image, whether it’s an art installation or a painting (unless they’re splattered with tomato sauce, but I’m sure you could get a copy in the public domain), the consumption of video has made all of us expect something else from our internet experience. TV didn’t wanna die. And so it strived but it didn’t, but their influence is even bigger than you’d imagine. Think for a second: you want to go live on Instagram, but you realize you only have your microphone from the earbud set. When you went on Twitter, you had a highlighted trend which was the presidential debate being exhibited live. They weren’t doing it from their phones. They had professional cameras, audio quality and everything just as if they were on TV, but even better. A better signal, a better coverage, since their time wasn’t restricted to the schedule of the network, but the topic instead, which could in turn be explored in the conversations people were having about it as of right now; a better view on the themes for anyone who was interested. But then you look at independent journalism. They’ve learned to Zoom, and to broadcast showing diverse sets of media pieces, which in fact meant not a lot more than displaying different tabs on the screen. It seems very simple, until you realize maybe it’s not — and until you try to do it yourself, especially if you’re thinking, like me, that Substack will be your source of income. Will you keep doing it, after the bad reviews? This is one aspect, for every writer. Another is the undeniable appeal that certain hosts of images and videos have. Instagram is sexy, but nobody’s supposed to talk about it — and in fact, that came with time, and personally, I’m convinced that was a particularly tense atmosphere for the people who wanted to be viewed as ethical rocks, and who would always have the data to show that they’re the ones who invested the most in research, and that their research was the most relevant, given the userbase and what they knew about them. But that, in itself, is an ethical problem, and of course we’ve heard the nutrition whistle and we’re all still acting like the big dogs do. Putting this one platform aside, and taking a step back before approaching the new trend of algorithm-fed quick videos on demand from multiple people who you’re dying to meet and we’re going to introduce to you (an offer you can’t refuse), we have the word sexy. Nobody starts a conversation with “hey, sexy”. They should go to prison if they do. Well, of course not, but they might wanna know that’s pretty lame. I just think there’s a weird fluctuation, or rather, a volatile environment of digital trade, when it comes to the sexy categories. Because if you cut the “why”, you’re left with raw material. Some people have no idea what to do with it. You could tell someone that everything you need to know about any given subject is on Wikipedia; they might get lazy, and close their eyes on it. You might tell someone at school: “guess what, I found her OF”. The monkey emoji, closing his eyes, would slightly move its fingers to the sides in order to see, but pretend not to care — or in fact, to pretend that not to be looking. But we know that the “raw material” can be a lot different than what the emoji represents.

We’re not thinking about marketing for kids. Some “kids” are actually doing the thinking for us. Whenever a conversation ends too suddenly, we’re faced with the question: “what did I say?” — but that comes after a number of interactions, and you’re still trying to get it right. Practice makes perfect. But don’t you wanna focus on something else? And who said that this perfect model would be scaled up, and applied to everyone, involving masses of people in contact with your displays of emotion? In contact with your rawness, which includes a spectrum of things which you can’t label or categorize, describe, begin to talk about. But since practice makes perfect, they’re quick to say: “you look like an actor from Stranger Things”. And so we start to think: how big is streaming for younger audiences? But we’re suddenly stopped on our tracks, inevitably, out of someone else’s greed, out of someone else’s desire to know everything about anything, and win the argument at all times: “What do you mean with ‘younger audiences’? I’m old enough”. Labelling is interesting because it involves a lot of linguistic knowledge, when it’s done properly. For example, a fruit like a banana, before it’s ready to be consumed, is called “green”; when it’s already easy to peel, not yet smelling, which should mean you’re supposed to eat them before they rot, and just good to put in your mouth, you call it “mature”. Now consider the difference between “mature content” and “adult content”. For example, this blog contains mature content, but not adult content — despite some slight references to this world, which is not represented here at all, and that’s obvious to anyone who knows what adult content looks like, sounds like, and what it feels like to watch it one time, then lose count — and also lose touch with yourself, sometimes. Once, I was around 10 and I was playing a videogame where the narrative is some really fucked up dystopia or futuristic, while being mixed up with a tribal, origin of civilization period, and you have to save the world, basically. It’s called Turok. I didn’t play the first game, which is all about a Native-American hunting dinosaurs; I played the second one, which had this weird, kind of terrifying iguana’s red eye staring at you at the cover, with the tagline: “seeds of evil”. You’d get lost in some kind of narrative where these organized groups of other species were taking control of everything good, putting kids in cages and all. Dystopian narratives tend to get something right, but I could totally be talking about Star Fox and my comments would all be about how sexual the conversation between pilots are. “Incoming enemy from the rear. Drop altitude”: of course the horny rabbit is telling you to bend over cause there’s a machine behind you (and what do you know, people take it literally these days! “Your father helped me like that too”: like what? Did you guys, uh… But back to Turok, one of your final missions would be to “purify the river of souls”, all the while shooting plasma bullets at the center of some alien’s big belly, and it was particularly explicit — but there was, in their defense, an option to make the red blood look green. But there’s an interesting part of the story I don’t wanna miss. Back here, over 20 years ago, I was very entertained and actually thrilled to be figuring out what I had to do in the game all by myself, without the help of the magazine “walkthrough” — but it was time for lunch. My grandpa called me once, twice, and then I went to the living room, slightly pissed off, I suppose, and said I was playing a game and it was important, but they were bothering me with something less worthy of attention, absolutely meaningless. “I’m here trying to save the world from all these scary monsters and you want me to go eat spaghetti, are you out of your minds?” I’m not sure what words I said, and this was obviously not the actual conversation, but when I refused to obey and come to the lunch table at the time I was called, my grandpa reacted grabbing me by the neck, looking straight at me and I think he slightly pressed it even though I was just a 10 year old. My grandma told him to stop. I think I went back to the game, but cried about it.

Now, back to the real world of right now, always and forever: the metaverse is a billionaire investment. So is Twitter, though it’s a little less. Nobody will stop talking about Twitter, and I’m trying to figure out why, exactly. The new policy is “freedom of speech, not freedom of reach”. That means, as briefly explained by the buyer, that you can write what you want, but that will always go through moderation, and they’ll keep track of everything and rank your participation. That means to say we can totally start a conspiracy theory that the Japanese are all shamelessly horny, and another person will suggest they’re horny, yeah, but always filled with shame (I personally believe this profoundly, but in the one opportunity I had to say this to my American coworker who’s not here anymore, I kept my mouth shut). We can show an image and put a hashtag on it, but how much do you think people search for hashtags? You can try to make a new hashtag on your own. But do you even have a following? That won’t work. You can try to say what’s on your mind (see what Mastodon did?) and have people react to it, but will they, ever? You can build on and on, and it’ll be torn down. You don’t know the right words, you don’t have the right tone, you don’t even know what the fuck you’re talking about, and you’re ugly, and you’re lame, and you smell. Look at where you live. It’s a fucking demolition floor, filled with crusts of dirt in the living room. And I’ll never go into that bathroom, I’m pretty sure that’s where the pandemic started. You’ll have to do something about the drains, all that spit that somehow goes brown on the sink won’t be cleaning itself and you have to take out the hairs. I won’t touch it. Look at your ridiculous beige wall. At least if you had a black wall, you’d be cool. Then you could take pictures in front of the mirror, but not showing your hideous face. From the rear, babe. At least the bedroom’s fine. But you know we could cut the electricity any time, right? One neighbor monitors for the Church, another monitors trade, this guy monitors the power, this other one monitors the drugs. It’s a beautiful community effort. You see… that’s what’s up, and you’re all thinking “oh no, icons are disappearing from my favorite social media platform! It’s the end of the world!” Nobody talks about fireworks resembling gun shots. Nobody talks about sex workers being invisible to society, but the most sought for at a specific time of someone’s day — and man, there’s always someone. They can’t talk about work, and they can’t talk about sex — imagine sex work? Actually, Twitter and Meta became exactly that: places where you can’t talk about sex and you can’t talk about work. People are dead because of shit policy. Twitter wants you to believe your ideas are brilliant, while they exploit you in real time. Meta wants you to see everyone’s brilliance, while they all want to see you get abused, which is in their power to do and to organize for. Maybe it’s all the same. Maybe it’s not the sex. Maybe it’s not the emoji. Maybe we’re supposed to sleep: not to see, not to hear, not to speak. No freedom of reach, except for my big dick built by Space X. “Sorry, wrong name. You’re not supposed to talk about your dick on Spaces? Okay, my bad”. And we believe in the free market…

The evolution of media is hard to track. Video on demand? YouTube “pivoted”, but so did Netflix, and then Amazon, Disney, Apple, among cable and services like Hulu. Then, maybe after observing engagement with video consumption on Twitter and Tumblr, the latter more spicy then the former (which everyone thought was a problem, until they realized they pretty much broke the internet), TikTok came to be the equivalent of McDonalds for media, expect coming from China. The real story is we have Critical Literacy goals to be met in the Educational Common Core established across countries, and while these involve creation of relevant media themes, they’re failing to show how that’s really done, and so the arbiters live in one bubble while the creators, or aspiring creators, live in another. That last point alone could lead to intense debate: “why is that content getting attention while mine is not?” Money, silly. And now think about the policy again. The platform is definitely not a source for good; it’s a source for income through the exploration of your personal information, which you chose to disclose and, believe it or not, their legal argument is a tick box that you clicked on. So much for Semiotics. A click is not approval; it can mean many things. And now we’re facing a “depolarization effort”. This will ultimately result in user growth, but another round of public scrutiny that will most likely exhaust the already exhausted, who will in turn show scorn and bitterness, along with a complete (but carefully veiled) disregard for your social condition and your efforts, let alone empathy transformed in support that is concrete. we’ll hear the talk, but never see a path to be walked, only tall buildings where things are happening and cars going somewhere we’re fucking not. It’s not about video, and it’s not about Discourse Analysis: it’s about human relationships, Social Work and Psychology. Education plays a role, but the educator who doesn’t even talk to his or her students to learn what they’re dealing with is never going to even scratch the surface of their many layers of protection against invasion of privacy. But we shouldn’t be paranoid and assume they know everything — they do not. There needs to be guidance, and the role of the current media is absolutely bridging generational gaps; but when you’re getting an opinion from 70 year olds about how the world should work, maybe it’s time you realize you don’t like your grandpa’s opinions — let alone being grabbed in the throat because you wanted to enjoy yourself. Politicians need to stop playing with personal narratives immediately. They say they represent us, but they don’t even talk to us. They can’t possibly be the solution for media policy when they’re not choosing personal storytelling in order to reach those people who are desperate to see that these people running for office are maybe just like us, but they happen to have a plan to fix stuff. And if you choose to go along the way, you’ll meet the media industry: profiting from falsehoods, producing to preserve their reach and relevance, and seldom hinting at something good happening in the sphere of public debate, but never mentioning names except of those who are controlling the whole process. That needs to change. Musk is a fraction of so called internet debate. Zuckerberg is a lunatic — nobody can ever explain how investing in augmented reality with billions of dollars was the chosen path when you had a row of social initiatives to fund, about the real world and real struggles. Not even a feature. And the people who actually run things, the investors and venture capitalists, along with institutions and universities, will ask for better performance while stopping you at your tiniest attempt to think for yourself, then later making a sarcastic comment that they think you won’t be able to respond — and if you are, they’ll hunt you down and crush you with a story about something completely irrelevant that they’ll try to convince you is the new thing, without a fucking apology, let alone a payment for moral damage — while they retain the data now and in the future. It’s time to defund big tech. The knowledge is built with existing tools. If you want better wages, you’ll have to be content with working less hours while they hire more people, because that’s what diversification means. And when people think together about how to fund the creators, it’s gonna be too late: financial markets will dominate discussions, just because we inputted our information, again — this time, our banking, not our contact. And who says we even got a call in the first place?

Have we met? Why Happn users prioritize kink over security

I’ve recently posted, or at least tweeted, a crazy but informed interpretation to one of my teen playlist songs, Iron Maiden’s Phantom of the Opera. There’s also Nightwish’s version, and from that you can tell I’m a metal dude. At least I used to be. And this is the kind of trait that people see when I go out the street — unless the hair is tied in a ponytail. And so it used to be for many years. God, I hated when I forgot my thing in the bathroom and had to take the train and go out the windy street with my hair untied. I had to look presentable for the business people. That didn’t happen, to the point of me having to ask the receptionist once, who was a great friend, for an elastic band. Once I invited her to a concert I was playing. I waited over half an hour while she made up her mind, and gave up. She always looked gorgeous, though she didn’t need much. Now whatever your preferences in music are, and no matter how long you take getting dressed and ready for work (I mean, people who read my blog have a job, right?), the circumstances that you have to be able to capture and be ready to react to appropriately when going out the street have been changing.

From the social media viral videos of people screaming at strangers because of a gay kiss or the color of their shirt, which is apparently the ultimate test of personality and moral integrity, to how comfortable you are with wearing cheap or expensive clothes, and where: that changes when we’re talking about Instagram. Except that we’ve all heard this story: people portray themselves as something they’re not, and the creation of BeReal is proof of that, sort of. They just forgot to mention that cameras can be disabled remotely by hackers, because who would share information like that, correct? So you may see the guys at the gym and the girls playing with their dogs; you roll your eyes when God reminds you it’s not really the absolute total of cases and Jesus wouldn’t judge people based on looks, especially not on social media, which is just a small fraction of who they are, whether or not they’re hungry or thirsty for a reenactment of The Supper. Follows are creepy; comments are abusive; DMs are a police case. But who the fuck told you that?

If we look at Google (which is free for all, and in fact has built the operational system that Gen Z grew up thinking is life itself), you’ll notice that you can toggle on an off a beautiful feature called “safe search”. Meta isn’t like that: it eliminates the right to choose. I’ll repeat myself: after my screen cracked and I couldn’t make my camera work anymore, even though it came back after some physical and app-based cleaning (which was honestly a terrifying experience, because they tested frequencies and all kinds of weird shit), I figured my camera wasn’t gonna come back. But the standard camera app on my phone works normally. Instagram, specifically, won’t allow my camera. This was after I was getting slightly (I emphasize this) more active on TikTok and Snapchat, predominantly teen apps. Do you wanna comment on today’s teens? Anyway, nobody has the time and the joke’s on them, so far. But they think they’re winning some kind of competition. I just read about this crypto guy who’s 30 years old and apparently has ties with the MIT (everyone knows that’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, right?) — 26 billion dollar net worth. Excuse me, I’m 33 and my area is tech culture. My reference isn’t Noam Chomsky, though. I think the man’s brilliant, but I pursue other paths, as you can tell from the way I write blogs. The idea that people are trading crypto, for me, is like betting on who’s gonna need to have a tough conversations with their parents — and then, of course, running away from that at all costs, quite literally. Nothing more than that: self-indulgent if you’re nice; a cancer if you’re niche — except if you remember that a certain Mindgeek affiliated company pays in USDT. We could go in circles here, but my point is: the younger generation thinks about compensation very differently, and wants it now; the bigger tech companies operate with a certain margin of risk; the mainstream social media companies are debating whether or not the “risk” is a national security matter or just the burdens and embarrassments of having a lazy kid.

The event with my camera is particularly interesting not just because fintech uses facial recognition software now (and so you can imagine the margin for fraud); on that note, Santander started applying biometrics around the year 2016, if I’m not mistaken (or at least that’s when I was asked to do it). That’s a big Spanish turned international bank founded in the mid 19th century with publicly traded stocks, not a smartass invention from someone who was bored. Now… speaking of that: whether or not it’s a lazy kid or a bright kid, hyperactive or antisocial, and so the profiles go on, everyone’s going to get bored. And if you make a doomscrolling joke, get the fuck out of here. You get bored, you chase people on the internet; isn’t that fun? Well… Instagram thinks the hashtag “bored” violates the community guidelines. I mean, that’s the argument I made on my 20 minute video I can’t post because either Instagram, my ISP or my nosey neighbors won’t allow, but we had a pandemic with the entire world (so we thought) stuck in their homes, and then the biggest social app in the planet (so we thought) decided to ban “bored” as a search. How on Earth does that make sense? The rushy conclusion would be that our next headline should be domestic abuse, but to get there, we need to understand where the abuse came from, or the serries of situations that would lead to frustration, then conflict, then at the end, authoritarianism. And suddenly, instead of an internet joke, we’d have debates on the endurance of democratic values. Let’s suppose that sort of happened. A question lingers: should we blame Hacker Lane or nah? Do we have the power and means to, outside of the US?

In the streets, not much like what Iron Maiden pictures, but maybe with a booming bass and drum from some car most likely bought with untrackable sources, someone’s going on a date. I mean, the date is the car, check out what’s in the glove compartment and maybe getting to roll, but let’s just picture a different situation. Young man wants to buy young woman a drink. They stop at the gas station or the liquor shop. Not judging, by the way (unless you steal my credit card, then I most definitely am judging and I’m not alone). The girl is wearing shorts and a top. The guy thinks Billie Eilish got everything right in terms of fashion, except she doesn’t care about sports. When someone else approaches them, completely oblivious and 100% uninterested in what the hell is up with them, that person gets spotted — because technology made that happen. That’s the idea of an app actually called Happn, without the e. What could possibly happen if I talk to strangers on the street? They might give me wrong directions (or they might beat me up if I mention politics). They might hit on me, they might tell me to fuck off. The app lets you know, as long as your data is turned on while you go out (and active with an internet carrier plan) exactly who crossed your path (but of course, they need the app installed too for that to actually materialize, in terms). When they were talking about contact tracing, they were studying GPS and health data in intersection. When they made Happn, they probably had a different dataset (got a guess?) and a different goal. Initiatives like Walk Safe have countered this, just like Lyft has countered Uber.

But who has countered stalking? Sure, I’d love to know that someone masturbates while I’m having a panic attack. It would probably save my life. But I wouldn’t know — not ever. And let’s be clear about this: they might be masturbating not thinking about me at all, which is important to say. And I’m so, so sorry if the word masturbation is more of a trugger to you than getting beat up on the street for wearing your favorite tee shirt. The fact is, when I come home, I don’t keep thinking about the girls I met on the street. Who am I, some fucking psychopath? I’m thinking about my plans, where to go next, my routine. Things I need to buy, friends I haven’t talked to for a while. Pubs, and shit. I’m not thinking: “OH MY GOD, WHO IS THIS? MMM!” — but apparently, for the younger generation (and I’m able to speak this with relative, but ridiculously questionable confidence), the whole process is naturalized. If Happn didn’t exist, they’d never think their phones were being tracked. And so when they found out that screenshotting was a built-in feature on their phones, they all started to steal each other’s work, but also the right to privacy. Further, the people who never gave a shit about younger people being educated to serve a better purpose in society wanted to create an ideal user that spoke to everyone in town and picked who they wanted to stalk first. Without exaggeration, but at the danger of being censored, I can say this kind of ideology is pervasive in tech culture, and nobody’s ever Googled the term restraining order. Some of them have filed those, but don’t seem to have a strong opinion or even basic knowledge on immigration laws and data protection laws, which I personally find very disconcerting, if not absolutely petty.