Category Archives: politics

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.

Brazil breathes in relief. But who was suffocating us?

As I saw the live transmission of recently established CNN Brasil on a recently bought platform, Twitter under Elon Musk, waking up from a particularly hot day in Santos with a sun that made my eyes hurt and my sight blur even more when I went outside, around lunchtime, the numbers were showing a two percent margin for a man whose name I struggle to pronounce. I’ve learned many names of cities and people in the English language, and also other foreign regions, but this name annoys me. I feel dirty uttering it. And the reasons are many. From torture enthusiast to pick-pocketer of the Republic, JMB, in short, was a man who said things no media company would allow you to say without penalty. That’s how we know some things need to change, and maybe they will. Investigations can take some time to be developed, and the facts of the law need to be clear enough to argue in a case that could lead to conviction. His supporters don’t think that’s the case. As I’ve mentioned earlier, with no need to tag a post, especially when the entire mainstream media covered it, the city of Guarujá, located in a small margin of water that separates it from Santos, the biggest port in Latin America, took stage in an effort to convince the population that Lula, now president again, would be accepting an apartment as a bribe. He merely visited it, and from this I can tell you a personal story.

In 2013, the company where I worked at installed cameras inside our classrooms. We were seeing the popularization of the smartphone, but some people were already living in a separate reality, and I thought I’d been really lucky to be part of it. The benefits of life with technology were many, not just on videocalls with strangers, something I talk about to my students, obviously without mentioning details of interactions with a few particular people, but on the experience of having an alarm on the phone, a calendar, a note-taking app, social media as it grew, easy communication across countries, music and a camera to register my favorite moments. But in the classroom, I was being evaluated. And this one time, I decided to approach a class with a discussion on piracy and online sex, because it had something to do with the topic proposed in the book, called “classes for advanced learners”. What I didn’t know, and would learn later, was that Sao Paulo was developing intense marketing strategies that would culminate in an effort to analyze private conversation in order to get to know clients better and to offer better service. That was what made my conscience heavy, all these years. And seeing that the president of the country had a conversation wiretapped and broadcast on national TV, as I pointed out on my previous blog, made it seem like something bigger was going on. I lived in a more fast-paced reality, and I’d already lost a number of contacts for not being aware of how fast communications are these days. But what they did was to use this speed potential to disseminate false information.

Everyone became a specialist. Everyone had a voice. And that means speech freedoms were working, but soon enough, companies would realize they’d made mistakes. By allowing everyone to speak at the same time, with no control over what they were saying, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, then Instagram, saw a wide range of offenses and hostility, which they seemed to ignore when introducing the DMs. Messenger was a platform of its own, but few decided to exchange messages on there, worried about security, and WhatsApp promised end-to-end encryption. In the midst of that, Snapchat became an alternative, but massively, people turned their attention to whatever was going viral. And politics became viral, at a point where people were trying to meet people, because that, ideally, was fun and engaging, not enduring and frustrating. Suddenly, they didn’t see the positive side of technology, but rather, the negative ones. It was a burden, not a thrill. It was a perilous effort, not a collaborative process. Technology, in sum, explains our relationship with politics a lot, but in my case, it went even further.

I saw myself as a homeless person, not able to agree with my dad’s rules at home. My brother, of course, played his role. And I remember walking across town with all my belongings, after getting fired from a job for being constantly late, regardless of the lack of leadership and organization they presented themselves. I’d been in a big company and a big university. Also, a big home. All of that faded. And so my dreams became callouses on my feet, pain in my articulations, cuts and bruises all over my body. Trauma was more prevalent than the fact that I had to count coins to smoke cigarettes and buy a ticket for the popular restaurant who served food for one Brazilian real. I would walk around the neighborhood asking smokers I found to give me a cigarette, please. And I’d been abandoned. What kept me away from the streets was a rent my ex girlfriend paid me, and eventual shopping from my more recent ex, who thought our relationship was unsustainable, but basically, I didn’t deserve to die. She thought I had cheated on her, and I was surrounded by people who were very well off, in this hostel where I spent six months of my life, which was supposed to be paid by my ex’s family, but wasn’t. I left with a debt and a bunch of people who thought I’d taken advantage of them, adding up to the narrative of the two-time cheater, but little knowledge that I could’ve been a two-time father. And so I went back home.

What I learned was that, during the years I spent away from internet discussions, events unfolded a lot faster. Every click counted. Every minute spent watching a video, every tweet, every like, every follow. They made a system where technology was supposed to take care of ourselves, telling us what we were doing could be improved, in experience terms. But they lied. For every like in a piece of opinion posted online, they shared data with the opposing side. This was called their audience, or potential customers. If you already liked something, you were only speaking to your bubble, and the point was to reach out to the people who didn’t know you. So they offered content. And that’s how I learned about some of the vehicles and personalities I keep on following today. That also led me to find incredible artists. But these artists had a life that wasn’t easy, and getting in touch with them was something I knew wasn’t possible. At least that I had learned from my first contact with emergent technologies. If I say I lost 20 pounds in 2015 because I was hungry, they’ll say I contacted a thousand people over Kik. One of them, in the following year, told me, when I asked to see more of her: “Die”. So who’s the other side again? And are we even focusing on the right thing? Does politics influence us so much that it’s the only thing we can talk about, or are there more topics to be approached, in retrospect, so we fix the mistakes from the past, apologize for possible misfortunes and bad words, but also, reconstruct our reputation?

Lula is a man who’s trying to do more or less that. I don’t see Lula talking about reputation, especially on the internet. I see him talking about hunger. I see him talking about hope, curbing hate, protecting the natural environment, incentivizing the small business owners, boosting culture by all means, protecting social security programs, giving value to education. He’s a humanitarian. If we compare, the other side wanted to silence or gun down opponents. These were words uttered in public. Can you imagine what was said in private? The pandemic, which spewed controversy in countries all over the planet, was a public health question; but wasn’t it revealed, at the same time, that major technology companies had impacts on mental health, as was the case for Instagram, with detailed data and top ranking specialists blowing the whistle, like Frances Haugen? Wasn’t Mudge recently warning us that Twitter had low security? And wasn’t Snowden telling us that what we do online needs to be looked at with more caution, because institutions are watching? They wanted to say our country, our family and our God were the biggest symbols of who we are; with that, they devalued diversity, closed the door on possible life-changing interactions between people across cultures and mocked existing ones; imposed a moral agenda in countries with an immense disparity on how things are seen when it comes to sex and relationships in general. The government, just like the tech companies, lied to us.

The government said it created radical innovation for fintech during the pandemic, where you only needed an email or phone number to send a payment. When asked about it, the incumbent (a suggestion of vocabulary) tentatively spoke about how it would bring advancements in aviation. The Federal Bank, Caixa, suffered with massive technology failures, delaying of payments and false information not checked by federal agencies. Services like the Digital Work Register, at least for me, were not synched with the registries on paper. A major technology gap arguably favored the rich and strangled the poor, who waited in long lines to receive the news that their payments, extremely low at the beginning (250 Brazilian real), would only be made a month later. Meanwhile, everybody in the top financial analysis sectors wanted to talk about so called “cryptocurrencies”. The value of Bitcoin reached 42 thousand dollars. In other words, 1 Bitcoin would feed 840 Brazilian families. They used to say “that’s the marvel of money”. Now they ask you to give them your data before you change the world. When the world was already exhausted of talking about death every single day, and the markets went “back to normal”, although life didn’t, a military conflict was made the new topic of conversation. Grains exports were concerning, as well as the natural gas economy and nuclear energy. We’d rather believe the Europeans could handle this in a more precise way, but it seemed, the world of Left versus Right was capable of defending Russian war crimes in favor of anti-imperialism, using manufacture as an excuse for how we’re supposed to view the world. Relationships, obviously, didn’t matter. If a government official lied about an American girl, it also didn’t matter. What if Americans lied about many, and an entire industry they lead?

The anxiety to know what was happening only grew, but so did our discontentment with the world, our own relationships and our lives, fixed routines and dead ends. We looked for contact, but saw that communications platforms were enforcing censorship. As I’ve said many times, at a time when the entire world was bored, the hashtag bored was blocked on Instagram. Policy, they said. In fact, we know that to in order the handle the amount of accounts created every day and the activity in them, artificial intelligence was developed to better address issues like language barriers and standards, security and other data-related stuff. They didn’t put a less xenophobic robot in charge. They didn’t fix racist algorithms. Technology, all the time, was lying to us. And so we expected, desperately, for someone to tell us the truth. What was really happening, and how would we get away from it, back to the projections we saw when those early services were adopted, and society wanted to gather and participate more actively in the city and help build more projects, but because they had work and because they wanted more people around them?

It seems hard to unite the country again. Some believe that technology reveals what people won’t say in public. These people consume illegal content, that they haven’t even realized is illegal. When they do, maybe they’ll start wondering why they were so impassioned when engaging with it. Laughable leaks were the new normal; serious journalism was deemed trash. And curiously, the people who wanted to create alternative channels were already organized: their agenda was to defend political parties and ideologies like Brazilian Liberal Party and the free tax for sailboats, along with consecutive billionaire cuts on education and health, while ministers got payments in literal bars of gold. If we touch upon crime, a cult of violence was observed all through the incumbent’s illegitimate mandate, but people forgot that legitimacy was supposed to be questioned in the first place. The confusion between public opinion and a need to control narratives was the cost that we all paid, and generated conflicts that go beyond the refusal to wash the dishes in the kitchen sink, and look a little more like a purple eye for rising numbers of women living with their partners, with little to no concern from the government on how to handle that situation, and a death toll among supporters and campaign staffers from the other side. We won, but blood was spilled, and that can’t be forgotten.

What I expect for Brazil is a scenario where technology is used to showcase the best in us. It’s hard to imagine people learning Portuguese, but if you’d excuse me, it’s actually very easy to think that the first person associated with Brazil would not be Neymar, the soccer player. The Brazilian icons like Milton Nascimento, Raul Seixas, Lenine, Djavan, Chico Buarque or Tim Maia, on a more or less traditional end, or even Legião Urbana, Titãs, Paralamas and other rock bands, they’re not mentioned. For the female singers, few people remember Marisa Monte, Daniela Mercury or even Ivete Sangalo. Among media personalities, nobody really knows who Pedro Bial is, or Marcelo Tas, or William Bonner. Like the cult to Larry King, few point to Antonio Abujamra’s interviews, and nobody knows who Ricardo Boechat was. In comedy, Fábio Forchat, Gregório Duvivier, Marcelo Adnet or even Hélio de la Peña are probably never going to get as much of an audience as a John Oliver or SNL. Anitta will not be Ariana. Apnea, a local band I like a lot, will not be the new Red Fang. So the role of Brazil is to reposition itself as a world player. We don’t necessarily need to look back to the past and show people what we’ve learned, but when people ask us, the references will be different. They’ll certainly ask about the elections. And so we can tell people that we witnessed the attempt to use technology with authority to control people’s actions, and not let them speak their minds unless protecting the government’s actions. These actions, it seems, reveal that the purpose of the internet, for them, was never to educate. Entertainment with criticism is a dogma for them. They don’t respect the LGBT, they don’t respect the Black and Indigenous, they don’t respect the poor. And they will keep expecting criticism from us that doesn’t generate any effects on their specters of influence. The difference is that we don’t care, because we won. And now it’s up to us to pave the way communications will happen in the next four years and the legacy to come after that.

What influences the influencers? An overlooked question

On a recent TikTok video, Felipe Neto described the many European countries which have left-wing orientation in order to debunk myths about what the Left represents to the world, power or the economy and the future of citizens. A controversial figure for the pettiest reasons imaginable, he did have a different standing in the beginning of his journey with YouTube, then becoming arguably the most cited influencer in Brazil. Born in 1988, in Rio, Felipe Neto is a millennial who “gets” internet culture, but not all of his content is the most inspiring or engaging around. More recently, he started making videos addressing political themes, which even resulted in an invitation to participate in the very traditional Brazilian Culture TV program “Roda Viva”, which I’m going to attempt translating as “Wheels of Life”, but that suggests a narrative; maybe it’s about the “wheels of public life” instead, since the program focuses on specialist accounts and tough questions in a row by very well-prepared journalists, ranging many topics. He did also appear in the New York Times, to prove that he’s definitely a prominent figure. On the side, the guy plays Minecraft.

His proposal, however, in the video I refer to, is to explain in one minute or a little more than that, how the ideology of Right versus Left is debated through dangerous paths, and that includes traditional media positionings. Famously, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, founded in 1921, said of the last presidential dispute (asphyxiated by Lula’s planned arrest, with a very recent admission and acknowledgement of most mainstream vehicles that the legal system proved him innocent on all charges): Brazil faced “a very difficult choice”. It wasn’t between Left and Right; it was between two people: Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad. Now, as far as the latter candidate’s curriculum goes, one can judge on his or her own. Running for governor now, a university professor, son of a Syrian immigrant and holding a Master’s Degree in Economics and a PhD in Philosophy by the most prestigious educational institution in South America, the University of São Paulo, he has experience in finance and education, including as a minister; he was also mayor of the 11th most globalized city in the world: Sao Paulo, capital of the homonymous state in Southeastern Brazil. The climate, back in 2018, was of condemnation of the Worker’s Party, in media scandals that involved wiretapping of presidential conversations broadcast on open TV, street manifestations organized by shady groups over Facebook and an even darker aspect of legal instances where the legal authority of Michel Temer, of Lebanese origin, who was vice president under Dilma Rousseff’s tenure and then propelled to the presidency, not to mention the case led by attorney Sérgio Moro in accusing ex-president Lula of not declaring real estate as accepting it as bribe, in the city of Guarujá (where the author of this text lived in a cheap rent paid by his friends, as the events unfolded, but the world paid attention to Trump and Hillary and made memes of them singing to each other while actually circling an arena like wrestlers wearing suits). Temer, famously but not quite, froze investments on Health and Education for 20 years and reformed social security, extending the period that already exploited workers would have to spend in labor until they got retired. This proposal was popularly known as the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (or PEC) of Death. Less famously, he delayed the passing into law of the Brazilian version of GDPR, which was only ratified under Bolsonaro, after his many artificial tools to get the supposed job, a long way after his taking office, in September 2020 (after the pandemic peak). These are cases worth reminding the population, but how do they influence this election?

Media roles in its varieties, academic efforts and its institutions, along with decisions taken by our politicians have and will continue to affect the lives of all Brazilians. The LGDP case alone was never investigated by any journalistic vehicle I know of, and it’s common to hear the Left talk about delaying of vaccines, but not of the treatment of urgency of our GDPR, which obviously plays a huge part on the most active online population in the world, according to a number of research institutes. If Felipe Neto or any other influencer assumes a role of historian, we might have to look at the future of education and the role that internet-based companies (an anachronism, but mind the exceptions) play in dealing with democratic access to information. But it’s not just information: entertainment, well-being and safety are in some form constitutional provisions, and if we’re talking about the youth, there are statutes (which probably need an update) that read, although in the context of the 1990s, that “kids and teens should be granted the right and freedom to play”. With that, I ended my proposal for a Master’s thesis at the University of Sao Paulo. With that, I was also challenged on the specifics of the kinds of “play” I was alluding to, and my project got vetoed. Now would you look at reality? I think some of us are able to anticipate movements; others will distract the population to keep their interests in mind and profits at the end of each quarter, or month. It wasn’t interesting to discuss what motivated uprising in 2013, but documentaries have been produced, and even nominated to the Oscars, as in Petra Costa’s production “The Edge of Democracy”. Other contents might have inspired other people, but if we’re trying to think about policy and sustainability based on what we see on Game of Thrones and Stranger Things, maybe we might wanna stick to our bubble and not talk about what we don’t know of. The option, of course, is getting informed by credible sources. This blog tries to do the best it can to provide a scan of topics of interest and present it in a moderate way. Facts aren’t ignored. But as far as positioning goes, it’s not the individual who decided for democratic values; it was society as a whole. And that is what I expect we keep pursuing.

Image: Creative Commons

Quer dizer que a sua música tem um tema censurado?

A paranoia é um estado diagnosticado de funcionamento do cérebro humano em que tudo leva às mesmas conclusões negativas, embora artificiais e projetadas, mas que se nutre de uma suspeita forte ou de um evento traumático. Os leitores de Orwell, já na década de 1940, sabiam que o Reino Unido vivia com a paranoia do potencial de guerra nuclear. Não é à toa que grandes nomes do heavy metal abordaram temas parecidos, desde o Black Sabbath em 1970 com Paranoid até o Iron Maiden em 2000 ou o Megadeth, em 2016, com Dystopia: “o que você não sabe, não pode te machucar, diz a lenda”. Mas as histórias hoje são mais complexas. O clipe de Afraid to Shoot Strangers, música do Fear of the Dark, último de Bruce Dickinson em 1993, chegou com Blaze Bailey lá pela época do X Factor, mas o Megadeth já falava de conflitos militares retratando claramente do que se tratava em Holy Wars The Punishment Due, em com mais propriedade que o Iron Maiden, que a quase dançante Run to the Hills; o Black Sabbath colocava no mesmo álbum Hand of Doom e Paranoid, e sabemos que o culto a Ozzy Osbourne envolveu muito uso de drogas. Não cabe aqui falar quem se antecipou, até porque Phantom of the Opera é uma música super atual e deveria ser mais pesada, se quiserem entender que sugere que uma mulher vai ser estuprada; mas não é, porque não se fazia música assim naquela época. Mustaine já dizia: “next thing I know, they’ll take my thoughts away”. Isso foi muito antes do “what’s on your mind?” do Facebook.

Hoje em dia, em 2022, os artistas anunciam suas músicas em miniaturas na tela de um smartphone, não em um estádio com amplificadores por todos os lados. Aliás, é lamentável que o metaleiro veja o Metallica como um símbolo do estilo de vida, e só preste atenção a Master of Puppets porque gosta de um refrão que fala “master” de forma sexualizada. Não é uma música que critica nada, é uma música que exalta o relacionamento tóxico e ainda sugere feminicídio. “Prove o meu sabor e você verá / que só quer chupar mais e o fará”, algo assim. Muito longe da Cardi B, mas nem tanto. Agora a Cardi B merece ser citada no original, porque a verdadeira obra de arte, que custou a reputação inteira de uma pessoa e de todas que se identificaram com ela, se trata com respeito:

“I wanna gag, I wanna choke
I want you to touch that lil’ dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat
My head game is fire, punani Dasani
It’s goin’ in dry and it’s comin’ out soggy
I ride on that thing like the cops is behind me
I spit on his mic and now he tryna sign me”

Ouça a original. Mas depois, veja o vice presidente dos Estados Unidos falando sobre uma nova norma no país, a “gag rule” (termo da época de escravidão). Lembra-se que “gag” como verbo tem o sentido de “interromper abruptamente”, mas vocês podem entender que não é por acaso que se usa o termo. No final de agosto de 2019, o Planned Parenthood postou sobre isso, mas o que se deu foi a decisão de revisar o julgamento do embate Roe v. Wade, e por fim proibir o aborto e qualquer menção à prática, o que foi aplicado pela empresa Meta, apesar de inúmeros protestos.

Veja, não é novidade que sexo é censurado. Mas isso foi uma medida tomada pelo chefe de Estado mais poderoso do mundo, enquanto a indústria musical lucrava com músicas que exaltavam a sexualidade e só poderiam ser ouvidas nos Estados Unidos, porque em outros países, isso gera problemas. Não precisamos lembrar do Irã, ou imaginar um iraniano praticando sexo oral com barba cabelo e bigode por fazer, enquanto o gay russo provavelmente seria raspadinho; mas o blog sabe que a mera menção ao tema é juramento de morte, e não tem medo das repercussões.

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.