Category Archives: social issues

Worries of the world: globalized or localized?

What are the worries of the world? I’m not trying to make a thesis out of it, but a Portuguese author once analyzed the concept of micro and macro in a way that made a lot of sense to me. We tend to make small things very big and bigger things very small. Is that me criticizing TikTok? No, calm down, Chinese investors. I know the biggest bank in the world is Chinese, so why would I even pick up a fight? And it’s not about the economy. Or is it?

Most of what we’ve faced in recent years, to be honest, I can barely remember. I was in college, I made friends online, then came Instagram and everything faded away. My relationship didn’t mean the same. The opportunities were all “out there”. And if you fast forward, it seems like people agreed they pushed this a little too far, but you know, for the kids. Not for my generation, who suffers with discrimination in the workplace and family, not to mention neighborhoods.

We might have contacts from far away. That doesn’t mean they live in a different country. And if we look at the stuff that happened globally speaking, we might need to sort of dumb it down. People don’t care so much. And if they do, they wanna talk about it as humans, not professionals of etiquette in front of a camera. Obviously, because people can do many things in front of a camera. But that’s a topic I address too often, excuse me.

So what are the worries of the world as of 2023? Historically, what have they been in the last decade?

1) Wars and military spending

You’ll hear Americans defend that the trillions spent in defense should go somewhere else, and the more you talk, the more they’ll label you. It feels like people think you’re siding with criminals, or maybe you’re just an idiot. Knowing the dangers we have to avoid is essential for Americans, but it’s not just them. I’m sure Eastern Europe has a solid infrastructure that they’re fighting to preserve, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The fact that they call it a “special operation” is nuts. They’re using kamikaze drones in freaking hospitals. What kind of world do we live in where international agencies are incapable of labelling this a terrorism?

But then comes a crucial point: precisely because of military power, the answers are only diplomatic. And now we call diplomacy the funding of war tanks. We could be talking about hot girls, you know. But they really like their equipment. It’s such a small dick analogy. But you can’t say that either. You gotta say “Slava Ukraini”. Curiously, on Linktree, a website I use for my portfolios (that gave me a phenomenal rate of 23 clicks maximum on my Bandcamp), you choose between that and BLM. Maybe living in a majorly Black neighborhood in the periphery would make you feel like you need protection. Maybe you wouldn’t have so much media exposure, because you’re afraid people will find out. And so technology is dropped. There needs to be a study of where technology is not used and why. “Excuse me sir, you say you have two rifles, three handguns, a shipment of 30 tons every year, but your home doesn’t have a flat screen TV?” — and the guy would say: “It is what it is”.

2) Foreign media

Nothing is more annoying than watching an American try to speak Spanish (and how proud they feel because they could accurately make a different than usual sound with their vocal tracts). Across the world, it’s not really like that, we’d like to think. But yes, of course it is. People with heavy accents are cut off from high profile jobs. Period. But when there’s nobody else who would represent that stretch of the economy, they’ll call on them to report findings, speak the jargon and make everyone uncomfortable because they’re not supposed to judge — they judge everything.

Yes, of course I’m speaking of Bloomberg, and I’ll never drop my criticism. Bloomberg has merits, but to have the audacity to ask me to stop what I’m doing and tune in to see what billionaires are deciding to do with my life is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Yet, they’re 24/7. Except on Sundays. Then, we have interviews. And lots of ads. Actually, the ads never stop either. Speaking of which: “you will make aging optional, because when you subscribe to Bloomberg you will have access to limitless possibilities”. I think SBF might have a better pitch.

But it’s far from that. I don’t see people speaking of any foreign media at all if not the American, and from my experience, you just need to switch to the BBC to notice the severe difference. But that might not be in the way you think. Literacy, this word few people know how to use, is about noticing things and making sense of them — knowing what they are, and how to make use of your knowledge. Foreign media in America has a long debate that starts with college applications and is best portrayed, unfortunately, by Hollywood and, today, Netflix. They’re not worried about misrepresentation, sorry. They’re worried about the change in their own industry and how to make maximum profit. And that profit stays in the United States of America.

3) Our kids

Gender identity, sex education, critical race theory, gun control, biology, ethics, literature, performative arts… none of that matters to the right side of the aisle. Unless it’s cheerleaders and basketball. Yeah! Spread those legs wide! Dunk! Let’s get hammered, then I’ll hammer you! That matters. A lot. And yet, they pretend it’s not there at all. Because they’re raised to pretend. The right wing as a whole, and that means on the planet, is worried about profits because they want to raise people like they’re raising puppies. You tell them to sit, they sit. If someone wants to break into your house, they bark.

People are afraid of you as you grow older. Nobody admires you, they fear you instead. That’s Machiavelli, by the way. But it’s way more subtle. Living in this context for so long now, I’ve noticed that no matter what I do, they’ll refuse to admit they’ve made mistakes, even when the mistake was, you know, paying attention to you. It’s their way or the highway (quoting from Limp Bizkit, that band who got famous in the early 2000s for some fucking reason).

It’s funny because I’ve been homeless, and today there’s one fucking pack of pasta to cook and nothing else. No money for cigarettes — don’t smoke, kids! — or anything else. I can’t have a beer. And while I try to understand the economy, all these cars keep passing by, with people on them who could afford them, can you imagine? I’m 33 and I’m still doing the walking. I’m well aware the very least I deserve is a personal Uber and a limitless credit card. Because the rest is pussy. You know how hard it is to get pussy, kid? No? Yeah, that’s because you learned stuff the wrong way. We used to actually get it, not fucking steal it. Prick.

How transparent are public-private partnerships on media?

The Rolling Stones have a masterpiece of a song called Gimme Shelter. On their official YouTube channel, it has, as of January 2023, nearly 5 million views. Another version, very colorful, with the lyrics on the screen, has 95 million. This one’s published by ABKCO. It looks like a celebration. I guess the event of looking at fireworks and being glad that the year was over made some of us feel hope that better things would be on our way. We’re totally fine with the loud sounds and actual bombs in the air, while war is still happening. The reasons? Few can explain.

A lot of people have come forward to popularize the term “streaming wars”. Their good intentions in explaining the phenomenon of people looking for entertainment on screens, but not the TV this time around, made up some interesting debates. But when it comes to things like competition, you might wanna have a second look. After all, if you make a product (in the media, people avoid this notion, but still get the money) and someone else makes a similar one, there’s conflict between the parts. But they have an underlying principle: if it’s a conflict in the field of entertainment, both sides agree entertainment is good.

But who’s going to say that certain kinds of entertainment are actually bad? Sure, this kind of thing brings engagement. But we can’t even talk about restriction zones here without stepping into legal requirements and hard-liners of speech moderation (some, granted, with a much valid cause). Would you look at videogames? Kids were handed controllers and told to go kill some people. Boys, mostly. An incentive to bravery? A trigger of action and promptness of decision? An exercise in strategy calculation? The arguments in favor are many, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the theme is violent.

Now, we don’t know what exactly the metaverse wants to do. What we’ve heard was that you could listen to the same music together, for example (and hey, that actually sounds pretty amazing). But as a very naïve musician, who cares more about the music than promoting a product, I’m more inclined to show people what Snarky Puppy did when they invited everyone into the studio and gave them some amazing headphones, instead of sharing their thoughts on not-so-great immersivity “conquering the world”, as per Pitchfork reporting on the future of music.

That reminds me of an interesting thing about the company once simply called Facebook: as a mission, the company talked about accountability, while Twitter talked about transparency. Anyone remember that? I might have merged the two realms. But when I started following the whole thing more closely, I was recently graduated from college, and changing homes, when Mark did Facebook’s first Public Q&A.

It’s noticeable that Sheryl Sandberg is still there, and that questions should be forwarded to them as they go through the event; also that the very first is related to the need to install Messenger as a separate app in order to see your messages on Facebook. This, of course, was before disclosures about private messaging being targeted by advertisers were made public, something this blog has written about; also, before the Congress hearing where Mark Zuckerberg infamously says: “we sell ads” to explain his company’s near hundred billion profits. If you wanna watch, click the video from 2014 and enjoy an hour of stuff that’s probably not relevant anymore — or be an adult and try to analyze the changes and evolution of these debates, which weirdly seem like historical events. While this is a corporate event, it’s also the biggest company in the world and its CEO coming forward to talk about user issues.

Twitter, arguably not less than Facebook, was pressured too, in a few, not just one Congress hearing (4 hours, everyone).

Now, you may ask: what’s the purpose of asking people to watch these insanely long videos, on a blog, while everyone knows what’s happening today is TikTok, where people get bored after 15 seconds? Firstly, I’d like to say, people are different. Second, people can change. Third, people can be prompted to change, and by association, there are people responsible for guiding others in at least an attempt of showing them ways they can nurture critical thinking. For English learners, I think these are great material sources: we have better informed opinions on these platform issues today, and we’re able to comment, also given that they’re familiar topics. The other argument is that witnessing how these people responded to huge debates on the future of communications, our biggest collective obsession, is undoubtedly going to make you learn some new stuff.

But transparency and accountability are concepts to explore. I don’t mind making it personal: until recently, I didn’t know exactly how much money Facebook operated with. And maybe you’ll struggle figuring out what revenue is against profit, try to understand more specific terminology, understand that Q1, for example, is just one quarter of the year and that public companies listed in stock exchanges need to declare their earnings, which are just for that particular stretch of the year. An earnings report is a form of transparency; so is a hearing broadcast by a media channel answering to tough questions from regulators. Accountability comes when something needs to be either improved or fixed: when you’re responsible for something, it’s your job to make sure it’s working well — and with social media, we find this sort of paradox where we can’t really tell if we’re looking at reality or some projection of it. Surely, we don’t need to all be transparent about our projections; and we don’t need to be held accountable for a projected reality produced by social media that does not represent the facts of our lives accurately.

Two pressing issues seem relevant to discuss and to keep emphasizing: while whatever’s produced on the web has a living component to it that can’t quite be controlled, because of how easily it’s reproduced (and the question of how is probably for security specialists, but sure, call an influencer), we should own what we produce. Marx, anyone? You know, I struggle with the notion that the man was German; but I still see that when I decided to dedicate myself to writing more often, I didn’t just want to be read by a lot of people, and it had nothing to do with authority either — I wanted people saying: “I’ve always felt that. You put into words what I couldn’t express. Thank you for your work.” That is no different than the lady who stands up behind a cash register every day and just puts the money where it needs to be, but that’s what I say after some lessons in humility throughout my life: I always say thank you to them. A much more complicated issue comes to play when we look at what’s put on the web and how it’s manipulated, with oversight of companies. These companies want profit, and sometimes, their control over our internet experience, which is our communication experience and need — therefore, a basic human right — is precisely what determines their profit margins, at the sake of our mental health and the dismissal of our own bodily responses.

I say that with a romantic mindset. There are certain areas where this is all fun and games, thrill and new. But things can change very quickly — and with the implementation of mass monitoring programs, unfortunately, they have been. At some point, those companies were operating at such large scales that there was no other way than putting the task of regulation in the hands of trained artificial systems; and while we might criticize those, we should be concerned about the dangers we might face and damaging effects of an unfiltered internet. If you think I’m being a moderate, you just don’t realize I’m a particularly sensitive man. I come back to the song: something as ugly as war is closer to us than ever before — maybe not geographically, for some; but it’s all over the news already. If you see the metaphor, small actions can provoke immense conflict, and maybe we should all try to catch up on what the motivations to those might be. The machines are; but are we just going to look at beautifully presented graphs?

Jack Dorsey, in the 2018 hearing linked above, faced some of these less dirty and raw questions, and I think it might be in the public interest to debate them — after all, we’re in 2023 and everyone knows, I think, what happened in 2018. No? Just me? Just Brazil? Well, anyway, here’s a summary of the first 30 minutes of that conversation (and you can judge for yourself, as well as my mental health for being simply unable to go back there to watch the rest, but I swear I’ll try):

1) Shadowbanning

“Have you heard of Google?” Well, we all have. But we don’t know a ton of stuff, if you’ll excuse the strong language, about its inner workings. Twitter, a minor operator in comparison, defined the role of the company in holding back visibility of specific accounts as non-existent. My mass is non-existent (I’m anorexic). A smart guy asked a question and said that the opposite of shadow banning, and apparently a role of Twitter, would be “augmenting voices that may otherwise never be heard”. He kissed. And then he slapped: it also allowed unprecedented speed of misinformation to circulate on the platform (a study from the MIT showed), and then he played a card: it was questionable how the company worked to prevent “malicious foreign influence”. Draw your own conclusions.

2) Impartiality

Not a populist, Jack Dorsey stated, however, that “Twitter will always default to open and free exchange” in his opening statement. I mean, do we call on the TMZ? Who’s the guy dating? We all want to know. Maybe he’s self-sufficient: bucket of ice do the work for him. Who knows what kind of pleasure the man derives from that. Maybe it’s the feeling that he’s saving the world, because he’s so hot and he feels guilty, cause he’s also such a good boy, and so he does his part in preventing global warming. Buckets and buckets. Constantly.

3) Opinions and behaviors

The man also says that the team is “always looking for patterns of behavior”, which includes blocking. Hold on a second. Did you say crypto? No? Ok, just checking, cause you know that’s not cool anymore. Opinions are a thing of the past, today we have icons that you click on. Let’s modernize this biz. But notice how generic “behavior” is. In a public hearing. Creepy?

4) Amplification

Parallel to shadow banning, there’s a discussion on users “not having the power to amplify a message to an audience that doesn’t follow [them]”. I mean, what’s even journalism? Certainly not people amplifying messages to an audience of people that don’t know them, right? But on top of that, if anyone still appreciates sarcasm, there’s the role of machine learning, and the task of reducing bias. This debate has become so toxic that the best answer will come from a NASA meme. And then another meme, which asks NASA: “are you sure?”

5) Toxic conversations

This one’s more intriguing. Reports about Twitter accounts that included abuse made the platform act on behalf of users. Sure, you might find the current landscape a little grim or slightly less funny — or fun. But they got to work: to promote “conversational health”, they mapped out four indicators: shared attention, shared facts, reception, perspective (in contrast with bubbles and echo chambers). That is according to Dorsey. Notoriously, Jack said about the team at Twitter: “we don’t feel it’s fair that the victims of abuse have to do the work to report it”, and then talked about creating technology to reduce the instances. A noble mission.

There’s an underlying theme in all of social media, apparently: better to prevent than to remedy. But that might not be a clear-cut statement anymore, with people who have started to doubt scientific research (ahem) is the way to do this properly. And among restrictions and prescriptions on the internet, we seem to have moving concepts, but persistent, if not fixed values. Exposure is good, but it can be bad. Visibility works the same way, but you don’t know it until you “earn it”. And so we enter the decision-making area: it seems that whenever ridicule is a road one can travel, they inevitably will. But we’re facing more pressing issues than discussing the fable of the naked king (ahem). A lot of people are naked. So what? Isn’t that good? The human body, a great username from the past of artistic intervention born in the Czech Republic but hosted in Las Vegas, travelled these virgin steps. But who’s a virgin anymore, right? Beyond the ordinary and the confidential, we have an expectation of a less judgmental society that seems to never fulfill itself. LinkedIn showed me an interesting post today, over a week after the beginning of this entry and a tremendously tortuous process: the most viewed TED talk of all time. May its giver rest in peace. He speaks about children’s innate ability and drive for experimentation of the new, through drawing, in his example. But it speaks to us more profoundly, and with British humor. It seems, not a lot of people are capable of understanding nuance. And people have plenty of those. Imperfection, which seems so opposed to the concept of cartooning (arguably a sketch with preserved infant intention), is supposed to be valued. That’s how we know love. It’s also how it may end, but it never does. It wins. It thrives. It hurts, but it heals. The biggest fear of parents today, and grown ups themselves, seems to be the abundance of love. Along with the concepts of memory and affection, care and concern, sensibility and tactfulness which allows its literal nuances and exacerbations, can we build a future where personal lives, political beliefs, interests in general, working histories and positive reputation can speak the same language? We might. If we close our eyes, roll them and let the future be present — a public interest, but a private business model documented for a ridiculously selective few, in charge of selection itself. Time for change, don’t you think?

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.

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 trigger 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.

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.

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.