What does Traditional Linguistics inform to Data Science and Policy?

Society chose to trust social media. The problem, over a decade after its mass adoption and with no need to list the transformations in the sector — from within the industry and outside, according to public perception — seems to be that we never really understood media or social movements. Maybe we didn’t like those. You’ll hear politicians talk about the media like some inherently corrupt system of rewards and distribution of misinformation. What’s less spoken about is the origin of the word, something that traditional Linguistics helps explain, as well as a multitude of other debates over which common people and powerful corporations have shown intense interest with a comparable set of intentions.

Nobody wants to known or be schooled about the printing press, but at the same time, we live by the sanctimonious and spread ideas that are known to date from thousands of years ago. The Greeks believed there was divine inspiration for producing art, and that had connections with power. Philosophy, on the other hand, benefited all of society and still doesn’t have the same kind of attention. We’re supposed to know what a platonic relationship is, but it seems we’re more interested in the apocalypse. As a reader and writer, I don’t exactly place myself in a neutral point. It is a duty I have to say that we must not dream of a better society without fighting for it, and sometimes lose so often that we’d rather keep things as they are. I just think there’s a difference, which is very clear, between attacking and defending. The powerful would love to see their challenges turned into mythologies, epic battles, a showcase of weaponry. The powerless seek to understand what is and why. Their challenge, very frequently, is to stay alive to tell the story; but there’s no time for a story, because real life has more objective principles, not the making of a hero. And so the rest of us seek for the outstanding and the pitiful, the wonderful and the repulsive. What drives this is Ethics, which in turn is what drives Justice. And the laws are made to preserve this beautiful concept, with little to no attention to its logical opposite: for everything that’s legal, there’s something illegal; from everything that’s just, there’s something unjust.

Society is organized by laws, rules, norms, culture and habit. The latter could be associated with the smallest things we don’t think about: “what made me click on that link?” From that alone, we can’t establish relationships between all other listed elements. Data analysis claims to be able to. Clicking on a link has no grand merit, but if you’re the one who gets clicks, you’ll get a few grand. How that mechanism operates is what everyone needs to be aware of, and it seems like a challenge that, again, interests many groups of people. Now, in terms of which side you’re on when investing your time in deciding what’s legitimate and what is not; what’s authentic and what is not; what’s true and what is not, observe the shades. Morphology is the recognition of patterns. So is data science. There’s a clear difference between “legitimate” and “legal”. I could steal someone’s identity, claim to have the documents that are indeed legitimate, and if nobody spotted me, I’d be right; but that’s illegal. And it seems like identity is a concept we’re struggling with, in a world where appearances matter more than most things we can recognize in our environment.

Corrupt and abrupt are associated by their morphology, but different in their syntax and their meaning: one can be a process; the other can be an event. Both are precisely associations, but only one of them can be a verb. To corrupt is to disturb as a mode of turning the aspect of something. This could be a process and an event. An illegal action, not illegal activity, could turn someone corrupt. Abruptly? It depends. It also depends of your involvement, which turns to social elements that the media will surely explore. But how did social media make its ways into our subconscious? Was it in a sudden manner? Or was it in a complex arrangement of situations that entangled opportunity, ambition, ego, motives, paybacks and a desire for creating a mechanism of power? Nobody’s judging: many of us have used the power of social media. But how has social media used us — and deprived us of our power? Maybe another area of traditional Linguistics might explain: Phonology. In practice, an alveolar, voiced fricative can turn what’s “just” into “dust”, but in theory, it’s the other way around. Sometimes it’s plosive, others not, depending on the language. But language has its intricacies, and so does its context, so adequately tied to identity.

In a context where data science informs us that the tendency is for hikes in interactions to be observed, it might be useful to remember Martha’s Vineyard’s lesson: quality and quantity are not easily measured or separated. Context, however, a focus of Discourse Analysis (and we won’t have the time to address Linguistics as it is used today, by artificial inteligence and programming tools, with the “legitimate” cause of preserving interaction quality), informs that this location has been on the news for being a destination of immigrants in the United States of America. Just sent there. Like the immigrants of Ukraine found Poland, or the South American continent found its way in between Portuguese and Spanish: so many similarities, but quite a few differences. For an illegal alien working at a restaurant, maybe “muy guapo” or “hermosa” would sound different than “hot”, in case they exchanged messages with someone on social media; and while Portuguese speakers might hear gender opposing “gostosa” or “gostoso”, their lives would still be connected to the restaurant (and you’re smart enough to notice who’s to lose), not a home they own, sometimes counting with protection. But you see, this protection was granted because if laws, without a capital letter, hadn’t been passed to ensure the citizen (not the illegal alien) had the right to protect him or herself, some would call this protection a “regression”; they would say it’s “legitimate”; others would call it “illegal”. What traditional Linguistics has to offer is not what tradition has always presented us. We have to reimagine language. We have to look at communication in a movement of desire — desire to communicate, but much more than that. At the same time, we have to separate desire from intention, and those from action. So far, we’ve been walking towards the opposite direction, because of how “modern” Applied Linguistics can be. We talk to the wind, but they want a gag rule. Context will tell you: the wind will be stored somewhere, and there will be a storm, eventually.

Most people see blocking as a tool. But for what?

I have a class where the theme is “rights, duties and perceptions”, on my course. Those 300 pages are starting to make sense: I paid an effort because I cared. But let’s look at all the people who didn’t, for a bit. One of the questions I’ve asked a student is what kind of thing he used to hear at home and he thought was just a dumb rule. I’ve repeated this question on a video about web policy. And here we are, debating nudes on Instagram, 10 years after its creation. Except… we’re not. I haven’t read any stories, just the news it was developing AI. I didn’t hear anybody in favor or against; I didn’t hear any personal stories; I didn’t hear moms, dads and teenagers; I didn’t hear employees and HR departments, I didn’t hear old ladies. But there was this piece on the media this week. The dumb rule, in my not-so-modest opinion, is not sending nudes on Instagram. At a minimum, the company doesn’t know how to set policy. And I could go on and on about how they’ve lied to the public in terms of advertising data, but every site has done so with the cookie policy, and I’m one of the people who felt a need to include one on mine — nobody instructed me to. I say: partfluency uses that to understand visibility. So let’s talk about visibility.

The dumb rule my student mentioned was not wearing a hat at the lunch table. We both didn’t really understand it. Maybe taking off your hat was a sign of respect, and in fact, until this day I see people tipping their hats when someone says something funny — like they’re really saying “I agree”. It makes no sense. Maybe if someone said: “don’t wear red in the hospital”, that would make more sense. Of course, that could make people think someone’s badly injured and needing urgent care, in a place where people come and go, metaphorically, literally. But back to social media. When I started making public comments on my potential girlfriend’s profile, I got blocked. I can’t guess what happened. I remember one of our interactions, block lifted, where she said she was cooking something, and I said “meanwhile, chicken at the lunch table”. She’s a vegetarian, but she liked it. I mean, that’s the opposite of what you wanna do. If she was honest, she’d be replying with “ew”. But no, she “liked” it. And I have many examples of occassions where I posted on Facebook: “feeling like shit today” and people would literally give me a thumbs up. Sorry, that makes you happy? Are you trying to control the robots to make me even more unhappy and teaching them that when I’m unhappy, the world is in the path to improvement? What’s the plan? And for most, it’s the guy who sends dick pics. I mean, most teens, of course. But no, I don’t mean that, because I talk to teens and what they’re doing now is they’re asking everyone and recording everything. For what reason? That is a mystery. I’m not investigating sex trafficking rings, that is a job for the FBI, I believe. If they’re aware that what they save has an origin which is traceable and their passwords and contacts are too, then maybe they’re just smarter than us (and the FBI? Hmm…) and doing it on purpose. But the blocking thing? I don’t think so.

Because every time a person has blocked me, it was to escape debate. I’ve never threatened to punch anyone on the face (all I did was being on Twitter writing a reply about spitting on Donald Trump when he was the president, nothing absurd or nonsensical). It seems to me that there’s modes of interaction. If you exist online, people already know you exist. Let’s use a bad comparison: it’s like the Pornhub online user search: it’s there, and you know they’re lying to you. But who? Maybe back in the day, when Orkut still had the feature of seeing who visited your profile, we should’ve figured shit out — or rather, people should’ve explained it to us, because these were products being sold. The apps for that today are paid. Or maybe let’s say the reason you got locked out of Twitter was your use of VPN. You see, because people stealing your identity here was fine; in another country, you pay the price. Does that make sense? Of course it does not. Maybe they knew who these people were, and they were trying to help you out of a situation, but here you’re stuck with a bunch of gangsters and that’s good for business, since you can’t do shit? Anyway, back to blocking. You’re online, let’s suppose. The algorithm, oh almighty gore, oh deadskin on my dick wanting to play, alerts people that you’re online — or rather, alerts the Facebook database. And so your activity (like it used to by design) is shown on the “heart” icon. Instead of seeing what happened on *your* account, you see what happens on everybody else’s. Does anyone remember what excuse they had for overturning that policy? I surely don’t. But now, if you don’t have activity, you’re drowned in ads and other people’s activity (posts and accounts you may like). The same is happening on Twitter. Why? Can’t they at least go back to basics and make you pick an interest? No, they can’t. Cause they fucking suck at their jobs, that’s the truth. Alright, fine, it’s more profitable or whatever. But we know there’s a tricky side to that.

When I make a profile with a music distributor (let’s suppose it’s Bandcamp), if I make a dollar, 30 cents go to Bandcamp. That means my profile is, in essence, monetized. It means not only that I can make money, but other people can, too. And it’s not just a tiny fraction, you see. Let’s talk about money systems. If I input my password wrongly with my debit card, the bank blocks it, at least on ATMs and for most online transactions. That means I have the money, but I can’t access it, because of the many factors that could’ve led me to forget it. Now let’s suppose you’re a woman, and the guy said he had chicken on the table. Your friend turns to you and says: “aren’t you a vegetarian? that’s harrassment, block him”. And *to everyone’s surprise* she says “yeah, you’re right!” — and never looks back. Now remember what I said about monetized accounts? Remember what I said about people teaching the robots? Exactly: you can “teach social media” who deserves money and who does not. Except they make fake profiles to manipulate the algorithm all the freaking time. As it turns out, money is a big thing on social media, not just likes. One time, I asked my friend for a dollar to smoke. She blocked me. Yesterday, I was stretching my back, and I emmitted the most painful, deathbed-sounding noises of my life, trying to relieve some chest and lung pains, but I think part of that was muscular and the result of sedentarianism. She giggled and asked “sir, are you alright?” — of course she was also high on drugs and I sounded like an dying alien from a videogame, but that doesn’t really matter.

Why people block other people is simple: it’s more conveninent. They also think they’re making improvements. But they think, at some point, they have an entire system for their lives that’s going to favor them at all times, and they won’t let it go. Then insist on keeping you blocked. They don’t realize that maybe they were fucking wrong. Maybe they don’t have a reason anymore. And maybe, in case they were still stalking, your messages were not for them! They keep blocking. Which makes me think: if I block a billionaire on Twitter, I’m literally taking away his influence and that means I’ll have more of a chance to become the new billionaire, right? I mean, I’m teaching the algorithm. Maybe if I wanna be CEO, I can start by blocking the CEO. I’m just not sure what’s gonna happen when I see them. Are we going to live an alternate realities? Wait, is this what the Metaverse is really about? And if it is, wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of looking back at your memories, you had the option to review, just like your privacy settings that Google and Microsoft tell you to look at from time to time, your block list? What kinds of questions would they ask? “Are they still bothering you?” or “you’re not over this yet, are you?” — maybe even “it sucks there’s nothing else you can do about it, right?”

The “woke” agenda: our King is MLK

In a linguistic aberration not often talked about from a linguist’s perspective, the internet (with prevalence of first-language speakers to legitimately set new rules) started using a term to describe those who are very much aware of things — so aware that it feels like everybody else is just sleeping, and they don’t seem to catch up. In another interpretation, they see reality and they fight their daily struggles; others dream and often believe stories about their futures that are not true at all, holding onto the slightest chance of an eyeball meeting their digital existence or even to be spotted on the street and not just called pretty or handsome (instead of “babe”), but also offered a contract job. These are the “woke” people. But they’re supposed to be “awaken”, or “awakened”. “Awake”, by the way, is an interesting album from Japanese band L’arc en ciel, which has a line in English in the song “Existence“: “you will not be able to sleep, so why don’t you just stay awake?” It’s also a spelling mistake, a verb form inconsistency or misplaced adjective. “Awake” is an adjective, “awaken” is the past participle of “wake”, “woke” is the simple past of the same irregular verb, but “woke” as an adjective is an invention,. See? The mistake was intentional, just like people say “bitches be crazy”.

But nobody speaks Japanese. And as an English teacher actually living in Brazil (and it seems people struggle to understand that or pretend it’s not a relevant fact at all — or worse: they minimize the role of culture bridging and curating for literacy goals) I have to say English is just “a” language, not “the” language that everyone speaks. The latter part is undeniable. Recently, Slate published a podcast talking about YouTube’s derailing or demise, but saying they’ve managed to stay immune from criticism, despite other platforms being roasted. Later, the same vehicle said that Senators in Congressional hearings are asking more difficult questions to tech leaders, as if it’s a good sign, and we’re not struggling to catch up as ordinary citizens. We are. That’s the whole point of being “woke“. The definition should be: “someone in society that sees themselves in a position of inferiority for a series of reasons that they seek to understand to find who’s responsible for such situations and then try to change it”. They just created another word for activist, but this time, more combative — and their response is literally to say: “shut the fuck up, you’re annoying”. Of all things, annoying. No wonder, they came for the LGBT. Acceptance is not in their vocabulary. My own dad says he’s okay with gay people, but not with “the media” constantly pushing gay narratives for children to watch. He’s receiving the govenment fund for financial assistence to the poor (which is what we call people who haven’t figured out the factors in COVID that left us here), but still votes for the Trump agenda in Brazilian fashion. Not that knowing about Brazil makes you woke, but for example, you have to know real estate being bought in live cash is a problem, insulting journalists and also having such a difficult to conceive rhethoric on rape: at one point he said a congresswoman (Maria do Rosário, from the Worker’s Party) did not “deserve” to be raped. Not to mention the case where he posed for with hydroxychloroquine next to a bunch of rheas, animals people don’t usually see unless they’re looking at the farmgirl’s videos (but notice that the word for “rhea” is “ema” in Brazil).

Woke people can even be called schizophrenic. They can’t sleep because of the problems of the world, and the fact that them wanting to change things makes them targets of serial attacks, increasingly effective. I, for example, have developed sleep disorders. Nights watching Bloomberg and going to sleep after the B3 opening were a constant, with CNN’s prime time right after dad went to the bedroom. I knew it would make me feel better knowing that some people talked about what needed to be talked about, including finance and tech, which pleased me. The response wasn’t so popular. And about schizophrenia: we hear the word “smoking”, and we might think about a “king”, and then, for some reason, associate it with the January 6 events (it’s the day of Kings here in Brazil, didn’t you know?) then everything would make sense. Except it doesn’t, and we have to organize. Especially considering that we don’t live in the United Kingdom, but we might make songs talking about the act of the pound, if you’ll excuse the promotion.

For the common sense agenda: ESG, energy, inflation, cost of living, food, worker’s rights, healthcare, women’s rights, sexual freedoms, technology protections, better technology platform laws, better education, better entertainment and support to culture: these are things I care about, personally. If anyone has a plan to remanage the national debt and distribute investments in between those categories, amazing. Projects like FUNDEB are supposed to guarantee the money, but norms like the Common Core are scarcely debated. So even if we do get the money, the effectiveness of those initiatives is simply not there. The same goes for web policy, and we don’t talk about crypto in this blog, only things that exist. Is that being woke? Then maybe Tucker Carlson is sleeping, contrary to popular belief and to some of his invited commenters.

We seem to forget that there were people fighting for social justice (Rachael, a friend who I remember dearly for the contact she gave me with what I saw as “real English”, used to say she hated the term) were gunned down, as was Martin Luther king. And the guy was a reverend. Not even him escaped the hatred from powerful American elites (he was even listed in the FBI’s list of most wanted people). About the institutions? There’s little to say, but a lot to unpack. The Supreme Court should exist — Brazilian society recently signed a letter on the adherence and respect of the Rule of Law, contrary to the current and hopefully last-days president Jair Bolsonaro’s argument that the Judiciary is corrupt and should be banished. The thing about studying the Law is that you learn about morals. Catch some Hegel. Read Habermas (just maybe skip his Wikipedia, as you might find he had connections with Nazis). And if you go for the Bible, don’t support Jesus with a gun, ready to serve bullets instead of bread. Because in case anyone’s wondering what the answer to the question “where we all fall asleep, where do we go?”, the answer might be soon revealed with contrasting definitions, from the concept of Random Access Memory to REM sleep and biometrics used by the companies that tell you both “what’s happening” and “what’s on your mind”. For more on that, read my Substack.

To remind everyone, there’s a button for donations on the menu of the site. It redirects you to my PayPal account. Support this initiative, and let’s keep people updated and make better sense of the world, which should welcome conversations and not just the interests of wealthy investors, which, as Scott Galloway pointed out, seem to be finding rich men attractive women. You can see my video on the following link about the prevalence of dating apps.

Nota de esclarecimento: a quem incomoda o projeto Fluência Participativa?

Muitos sabem que me formei na Universidade de São Paulo, mas poucos têm a referência da Escola Estadual Olga Cury, onde estudei da quarta à oitava série. Antes disso, tive uma infância onde enfrentei a separação dos meus pais, aos 9 anos de idade; a perda do meu avô Paulo para um câncer e muitos conflitos familiares. Meu pai tentava dar rumo à vida dele, mas minha mãe não se dava bem com a família Escobar. Nessa época, 1999, ele tinha 37 anos. Ou seja: se eu tivesse seguido o caminho dele, teria sido pai aos 27 anos de idade, considerando que tenho um irmão um ano e meio mais velho. Mas não é exatamente assim não: eu tenho uma meia-irmã mais velha. Se não me falha a memória, ele foi pai aos 18. Essa foi a idade em que ingressei no trabalho como professor de inglês, em 2010, num programa de monitoria pela FFLCH/USP. Perdi contato com a minha mãe, a ponto de passar vinte anos sem saber se ela tinha trocado de nome, e com isso, não conseguir dar prosseguimento à minha pesquisa acadêmica, por falhas nos dados enviados e verificados junto à Receita Federal (o CNPq é coisa séria, e quem corta verbas é o governo Bolsonaro). Mas quando segui, com 3 projetos consecutivos de mestrado pelo Departamento de Letras Modernas, uma levou à minha desistência — e em seguida uma crise de saúde mental e falta de moradia, num período onde passei fome e não tinha comunicação com ninguém, inclusive dormindo na rua e pedindo por dinheiro e cigarro no bairro pobre do Santo Antônio, no Guarujá. Tinha assistido o movimento estudantil fazer barulho, mas as causas eram verba para reforma do prédio de Letras e horários do ônibus circular no campus, nada a respeito do CRUSP, onde morava, e preços de passagens para estudantes de outras cidades. Pagava, na época, cerca de 20 a 25 reais pela passagem de ida mais a de volta, e estava junto com a minha namorada, Olívia. Eram 100 reais só de ônibus intermunicipal, toda semana. Enquanto se fala do perdão da dívida estudantil nos Estados Unidos (já mostrei dados de como uma universidade americana chega a custar mais de 300 mil reais), a bolsa que recebi tinha o valor de 250 reais ao mês. Como não tinha dinheiro para as passagens, ficava em São Paulo. A grande estratégia (e o grande crime) foi trazer marmitas para o restaurante universitário (que não pagávamos, pois tínhamos auxílio alimentação), pedir mais para quem estava de servente, exatamente como uma pessoa de rua, e depois usar o adicional como refeição no fim de semana — mas às vezes se recusavam a dar o adicional, e tínhamos que comer o pouco que éramos forçados a dividir para sobreviver no final de semana. Assim, economizávamos 100 reais nos fins de semana. Perdíamos as xerox de materiais essenciais, e ficávamos só com a audição das aulas. Não tínhamos os textos, que todos os alunos acompanhavam, numa sala com mais de 100; mas anotávamos tudo e conseguimos passar de ano, com notas abaixo da média, mas suficientes.

Já em 2007, minha namorada começou a trabalhar numa escola da Barra Funda. Eu fiz um processo para professor, onde trabalhava uma monitora do programa da FFLCH, mas fui recusado. Ela continuou, e depois foi para a monitoria. O trabalho dela nos garantiu alguma estabilidade, com a ajuda do meu pai. Não tínhamos um relacionamento muito bom. Quando eu tinha 14 anos de idade, saí de casa e fui morar com ela. Briguei com a família inteira, e nunca mais os vi. Só voltava, de vez em quando, para a ocasião do aniversário dos meus avós ou o nascimento das minhas primas, Mariana e Marcela. Meu pai ganhou o benefício de aposentadoria por invalidez, mas na verdade não ganhou foi nada. Passou uma década inteira com dores permanentes nas hérnias que o impediam de ter uma boa noite de sono ou se movimentar com qualquer facilidade. Acordava sempre com dores que o faziam lutar para chegar até o banheiro, e após muito anos narrou, humilhado, que não conseguia se limpar porque não alcançava e doía demais tentar. E eu passei por situações não equivalentes, mas parecidas: faltava papel higiênico no dormitório, peguei piolho, não tinha roupas de frio (e chegava a fazer 6 graus Celsius em São Paulo), e ainda, em 2011, quando já deveríamos ter alguma liberdade, a Olívia teve um aborto. Na verdade, decidimos por fazê-lo, mas foi um acidente: a camisinha estourou, e ainda nos precavemos com a pílula do dia seguinte, mas ela não funcionou. Ela comprou comprimidos na clandestinidade, ingeriu um e colocou outro dentro dela. Continuamos trabalhando. Também já narrei isso, mas o departamento comercial queria nos demitir, por alguma razão (e depois soube que a franqueadora era associada ao movimento pró-vida, e contratou um missionário americano para dar aulas junto com a minha namorada). Um dia, estávamos em Santos, e ela acordou com dor. Eu estava ansioso e muito confuso (tínhamos brigado sério pela primeira vez, talvez, em 7 anos de relacionamento, por causa de uma menina que eu conheci na internet, a Suzan). Estava pouco consciente. Ouvi ela chorar no banheiro de casa, que ainda era a nossa casa — e hoje sou forçado a ver todos os dias o estado em que ela se encontra, o lugar onde cresci. Quando entrei, vi ela segurando um feto em suas mãos. Ela chorava, tremia, e dizia: “ele tem olhinhos”. Pegamos uma toalha, eu peguei uma pá, e o enterramos no quintal. Foi ainda mais pesado: ela teve sequelas psicológicas muito graves, incluindo espasmos involuntários e camadas da placenta sendo evacuados durante o que acho que foi um mês inteiro. Um dia, isso aconteceu enquanto ela dava uma apresentação sobre literatura, numa universidade em Osasco. Éramos muito capazes, mas poucos sabiam o que tivemos de aguentar. Isso fora os conflitos de ensino fundamental e médio, que incluem tentativas de agressão em bando, além do bullying constante comigo, pelo fato de ter cabelos compridos mas também pelas performances musicais, que incluíam maquiagem e roupas exóticas, com os covers de música japonesa (que aliás, nunca ninguém deu valor), e ela por conta do que nem chegava a ser obesidade, só umas gordurinhas, que eu sempre gostei e digo isso até hoje. Nos amamos demais. E é tortuoso lembrar disso tudo, e pensar no quanto avanço e volto no tempo, pulando capítulos inteiros, inclusive o do suicídio do vocalista da minha banda, o Fábio da Plaise, e depois, a morte da Karen, uma amiga com quem me relacionei em 2016, depois da minha desgraça familiar e profissional, que sofreu um acidente de moto e depois não quis contato comigo, mesmo após eu insistir.

Tive um período até longo de atividade profissional intensa. Ninguém fala que tinham festas com drogas e todo mundo queria sexo, mas não é pra falar mesmo. Ninguém quer saber que a minha coordenadora passou mal no mesmo colchão onde eu dormia no CRUSP, e eu limpei a sujeira, bêbado mas ainda obedecendo às ordens. Gostava dela. Pessoa muito competente, mas infelizmente foi uma das influências para que eu me apegasse ao tabagismo. Como sofri com bronquite e pneumonia dupla na infância, precisando de inalação diária com medicações que me faziam tremer aos 9 anos de idade, e sangramentos nasais constantes, que precisaram ser remediados com suplementos de cálcio, minha saúde não era boa já naquela época, mas pelo menos me alimentava bem. E é aí que eu quero chegar. A minha vida em São Paulo, a partir do momento em que comecei a ganhar bem (o que, pra nós, era pouco mais de um salário mínimo), comecei a comer fora e frequentar lugares, com o perdão do lulismo, que o pobre não tinha condições de frequentar. Mas não viajei de avião, e bem que queria. Quando fui demitido, desisti do mestrado, mas ganhei a rescisão. A mãe do meu melhor amigo na época, um rapaz que se tornou o marido da Olívia (que apesar das mágoas, não é qualquer um, e o nome dele é Daniel), pediu um dinheiro emprestado por algum motivo, e eu simplesmente transferi cerca de 5 mil reais. Ela devolveu. Em seguida, comprei cerveja cara, maconha de 50 reais, besteiras, mas também quis limpar a casa inteira, cuidar dos pets e renovas todo o vestuário e os eletrônicos. Comprei livros, me preparando para os estudos. Comprei acessórios e instrumentos musicais. Mas me esqueci que poderia ter viajado para ver a pessoa que decidiu o fim do meu relacionamento, a Julianna.

Hoje, a história é muito diferente. Desde então, vivo com a minha família, apesar do hiato de 2015, quando confiei em uma pessoa, a Paula, que não me levava muito a sério, e o desastre de 2014, quando comecei tratamento psiquiátrico. Já em 2016, conheci a Emma, com quem falo até hoje, mas as expectativas não são as mesmas. Durante nosso relacionamento, procurei muitas pessoas que poderiam me fazer companhia, e num dado momento, não foi o suficiente estar com ela. Não tínhamos assunto, e ela provavelmente só sabia que eu procurava meninas, todas elas mais novas, além de assistir pornografia demais para alguém que se pretendia um acadêmico de uma universidade pública. Apesar de tudo, montei meu projeto, todos os conteúdos de blogs e postagens, e construí minha presença. Mas minhas dores foram ignoradas, inclusive pela última pessoa com quem me relacionei presencialmente, a Iasmin. E foi um bom relacionamento, mas veio a morte do ex-namorado dela para nos separar, e algumas experiências pouco unificadoras.

Resumir minha história é complicado. Perdi meu avô em 2011. Perdi minha avó Zilma em 2018, se não me engano, e minha avó Áurea em 2021. Com isso, minha família ficou sem auxílio financeiro (e escrevo isso enquanto passa um helicóptero), e o projeto Fluência Participativa é o que sustentaria a mim, meu pai e meu irmão. Há histórias que não conto, de violência doméstica, mau-atendimento hospitalar, ameaças, roubo, golpes cibernéticos volumosos, e muito dor no coração. Mas acreditava que poderia oferecer algo de significativo para a educação brasileira, e talvez para o mundo. Hoje, minha arte é renegada, censurada, caçoada e denunciada, ao mesmo tempo. Meus blogs levam a medidas corporativas, e sou banido de plataformas. Ninguém do passado se habilita a comentar os acontecimentos.

O meu único desejo é que, numa economia da interação, as pessoas sejam capazes de conhecer melhor o outro pela conversa, e não pela análise de dados. Essa é a missão do projeto: não conectar o mundo para roubar informações sobre usuários e vendê-las para anunciantes, mas sim proporcionar condições de estabelecer laços de afeto entre pessoas de todo o mundo. Uma pessoa que sofreu o que eu sofri poderia simplesmente pedir dinheiro. O que eu peço, no entanto, é que não tratem os outros como me tratam. E é isso que incomoda tanto.

Quantidade ou qualidade? A falsa polarização da conversa nas mídias sociais

Como professor de inglês, eu sempre vou cair no modismo: as portas se abrem ao descobrir as possibilidades de interação com o mundo, seu salário vai ser no mínimo 30% maior, você vai viajar para lugares que sempre sonhou conhecer e ter a experiência da troca cultural na pele. Mas espere um pouquinho: na pele? Na pele é quando a gente toca, e se tratando de interação com pessoas, esperamos não falar de sexo — até porque isso não pode ser publicado sem documentação assinada (e é claro, confesso que é uma piada com a situação atual deste blog). Fato é que os jovens estão escolhendo suas próprias mídias, e já entenderam que o Twitter é lugar para adultos. Não estamos discutindo teses acadêmicas no Facebook, nem receitas de bolo no TikTok (na falta de Trakinas); mas queremos, em todos os ambientes que escolhemos habitar, conversas com pessoas que se importam com a gente. Será que encontramos isso?

Essa é uma proposta de debate. Já mencionei em vídeos os aplicativos Wink e Hoop; mas as minhas críticas ao Snapchat, acreditem ou não, fizeram a plataforma me banir do aplicativo permanentemente (se foi alguma outra entidade, sinceramente não estou em condições de comentar, pois não se faz análise sem dados). São ideias simples que têm como motivação principal o contato entre pessoas que, ao contrário dos aplicativos de namoro, são do mundo inteiro. Uma questão que vai além, talvez, da percepção da maioria de pessoas que usa os serviços (que já passam por dificuldades) é a construção do algoritmo. É muito evitado se falar no Omegle ou mesmo na versão adulta (anterior a todas as mídias sociais e inclusive aos principais sites de pornografia) da conversa por webcam, mas não é disso que se trata. São pessoas que trocam mensagens, dizem de onde falam, e daí não sabem mais conversar sobre nada. Os contatos ficam ali, no seu aplicativo (seja o Instagram, seja o Snapchat, ou mesmo o que alguns vêm sugerido, como Telegram, Line ou até mesmo RingSmiley, uma versão asiática dentre os muitos aplicativos de conversas entre estranhos). Desde o Olive, uma espécie de freemium para vídeo, até o Boo (este com o apoio da Psychology Today), existem muitas tentativas de injetar comunicação com estranhos estrangeiros nas mídias sociais recentes. Nenhuma delas parece ter pensado o suficiente na seriedade do projeto, simplesmente oferecendo uma distração.

Mesmo quando ficamos em nosso próprio círculo de amizades, informações chegam de todos os cantos. Se você não produz nada, você consome, com certeza. Até uma pessoa que lê a Bíblia todo dia e escolhe ouvir as palavras da Paróquia ao invés do seu YouTuber favorito vai passar por anúncios e memes, mesmo porque a publicidade já se apropriou dessa linguagem. O que devemos observar é que também as Paróquias estão nas mídias sociais, e não importa se tiverem perfil: de onde vêm as mensagens animadas com palavras do Senhor, com um coelho sorridente lhe desejando um bom dia? Não queremos coelho, queremos outra coisa (e aqui deve se alongar a vogal para entendimento do implícito). Tudo bem, talvez nem sempre. Mas o embate está no hábito e na experiência: ao se procurar um relacionamento, abandona-se a vida de muitos para muitos, e se dedica àquela pessoa ao máximo do tempo disponível. Se souberem dosar e ter conversas úteis e agradáveis, com respeito e entendimento da história de cada um, ótimo. Se não, vão se trocar acusações de que um conheceu “quem é de verdade” o outro, e isso não leva a nada. A única coisa sobre a qual devemos estar alerta é que também nossas conversas, não importa a qualidade ou a quantidade, estão sendo avaliadas por terceiros, apesar de todo o discurso empresarial e parte do legal (alguns de nós leem os termos de uso) dizerem que não. Quem define isso é outra instância, e em muitos casos, se houver algo de errado, há de se lutar para provar que a acusação pode ter sido falsa, e quem sofreu injúria foi a parte acusada. Mas quando isso toma proporção massificada, temos basicamente uma crise de saúde pública, além de segurança, que hoje é determinada pelas grandes empresas de tecnologia, para o bem ou para o mau.

The unspoken benefits of neutrality

In Brazil, as of September 2022, talking about politics will make people fear for the upcoming months, days and hours; or it will produce a contagious exhilaration around the prospects of winning or losing a battle that this or that side might have chosen. Maybe you’ll notice relative apathy in other situations, not particularly here; but some people stayed on the job during this now predominantly controlled pandemic, with vaccinated people who took at least 3 shots in their arm, like myself, and in some cases go out in the street still rarely, but with tranquility. We think that going out is safe again, but the reasons are related to public health and what’s not so often discussed: instead of working from home, living your life in front of a computer or staring at your phone, at home. You go out, everyone has a different thing to do, and you think that’s fine, but who are they, completely unaware that you’ve started fights with 30 different businesses in the past 2 hours, retweeted journalistic vehicles of great and historical circulation, making acid comments and ironic, often insensitive and disrespectuful remarks on credibility and people’s assumed character? Why aren’t they all doing the same, to fight the power and take it back, and you seem to be the only one concerned with the battle for winning the internet debate, elected medium and modus operandi of the attention economy? And now you can watch candidates debate on the internet, and that is literal; but everyone else is already commenting, and you’ve lost on this one, because it doesn’t matter what you have to say. The frontline is the frontline. Fireworks at midnight, no big deal — there’s soccer every day. Neighbors turned crowds of possible perpetrators of property damage, and subtweetibg in real life, in the form of shouts. It seems pressing to ask: “what the hell is happening?”

What’s happening is that people are put to a test every four years in the majority of the countries of the world. But hang on: our most important elections are in a month, and Britain just changed the Prime Minister. The American elections are held in the midterm of Brazilian elections, for example. The selection for governors happens right before, and I should say that between Charlie Crist and Ron deSantis, at least the latter is able to fulfill his agenda; he’s just lame, while the other candidate is partnering with a “god-fearing” woman (as per Twitter bio) who’s supposed to change the deSantis program against gender ideology and critical race theory, all the while banning masks in schools because it has never required them in the first place — which is way too hard to believe, but seems to be the truth. DeSantis calls his opposers “The Woke Party”. Nobody told him that maybe Florida isn’t a dream, and we know Trump properties are being targets of investigation. I would go further, talk about Disney and Miami, mention Orlando, basketball, soccer and a Netflix series called Startup. I would tell personal stories, and give a shoutout to my old colleague now living in Auburn, not Jacksonville, saying “how’s your hacker friend and the gay gossip column guy?” But we’ve heard some of these things before. One day, on LinkedIn, I saw an old student of mine repost a video saying that Disney knows how to “enchant” like nobody else, and then you had an intervention in some kind of commercial center where people were interacting with the shadows of Disney characters who mimicked them, behind a panel. For each person in front of the screen, a specific character would show up as a sort of reflection of them. At the end, they’d reveal themselves and everyone would applaud. But in college, some other facts came to my knowledge, like work exploitation and a friend who dreamed of working there, but was the first person I met to be following Bloomberg. I won’t get into detail, because that involved another niche: the foreign music exoticness judges and who they give praise to. For the average Brazilian, does any of that matter?

In your family, you learn to suck it up. You stay quiet to avoid conflict. But sometimes, you do pick up a fight. An uncle is never going to be actually phisically aggressive with a nephew, is he? Sorry to break it to all, but my personal history tells otherwise, very clearly. And so do my conversations with teenagers, who report abuse in the family with a certain frequency. And the answer doesn’t seem to be a short story that does not mention this fact at all. It’s like posting fake news — because the narrative has been manipulated from the very starting point, not as of yesterday. You’re just a dummy. To wrap it up, and I refuse to talk about Europe: if you don’t take a stand on the internet, you have a chance to take a stand in real life. How does that sound to you? Because, to me, it sounds like a good plan. Except I know what Brazil would say: “Elogio é caridade”. Care to translate? Of course you don’t. And that’s fine. But maybe we should focus on the good instead of the bad, and real life sucks, while the internet can lead you to a better place. Are we voting on that?

Rethinking English as a Second Language in the Digital Era | Repensando o Inglês como Segunda Língua na Era Digital

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