Tag Archives: english

Practical verbs: 12/12

The world is connecting more, but also avoiding to interact. People speak from different contexts, and while it might feel great sharing some of your burdens and frustrations, as well as what makes you feel good, proud, understood or relieved when you find a strong match, it’s still over the phone, screen to screen. The workplace is changing. In 2020, a crisis hit us in the public health sector and everyone was affected. Now we have stuff to rethink, consider the challenges and do some planning. But when we look at what language can offer us in terms of international cooperation, personal gain and professional growth, we also look at society evolving, seeing the other, helping out those in need, sharing narratives that might be forgotten, meeting the people who grasp the dimension of things we think, feel, project and hope for. The hard part is that we’re not always going to find the right way to express what we really want to say, describe something accurately, whether it’s a personal experience or the facts we learned about a place or people we might know, the solutions we read about on an article or maybe comment on what we like about a movie, a song, any sort of thing we set out to do — do you like carrots? My grandma used to make a cake with chocolate on top, it’s a family recipe. Misunderstandings are common, and we’re constantly meeting halfway through the bridge, eventually reaching the other side. And the other side feels different. We wanna look back, and maybe go back; but are we gonna have company? What if you went there and you didn’t like the reception? What if you said something that they couldn’t accept, and how are you going to explain, if you don’t even know enough words for it, besides the particular way to pronounce them? Here’s a few situations:

“I promise this won’t happen again”

We’re easily distracted. Sometimes, when we lose sight of what we need to do, for lack of perspective or motivation, we go on a different path and it’s hard to come back to what we’re supposed to be doing. It happens in relationships, and that’s something everyone can relate to, but also at work, at home, or with stuff we tell ourselves we won’t do again because they’re harmful. My dad has diabetes, so I can’t bring stuff from the bakery and eat in front of him, especially if I don’t wash the dishes later. I sleep after midnight and I’m not feeling my best at 7am when I should be ready to start the job in high spirits with a loud and warm good morning greeting, but I’ll roll up in bed and get up on the third alarm, take too long in the shower and even longer waiting for transport. I’ll tell her I’ll make dinner, but keep on looking at social media and then the market is closed so we can’t cook anything other than pasta. It’s important to say you’re sorry, but we need to explain and promise for good that it won’t happen again. It does. But then we find a way to compensate for it.

“I swear I didn’t mean it like that”

You’ve been friends for years. You want someone to listen to a song that means a lot to you, or maybe you didn’t really like it but you think it sounds like the stuff they would enjoy. You send a message saying they need more of that in their life. Then they reply with another one saying it’s the vibe they’re in right now. Conversation goes on and they say something about the style you’re more into. Oh, right, your dream is to be a pop star. You say fuck off. They take it personally, but you’re the one who’s being teased or maybe trolled hard. But it’s normal. You’re friends. Now a couple is eating dinner out. She wants to order some grilled potatoes, you’re going with a burger. Mall stuff. You come back to where you’re sitting with the order, and the thing’s filled with bacon. You gotta send it back, cause you didn’t notice — she doesn’t eat that. But later she says you never pay attention to her and it’s all about you every time. It gets to you. You wanted to have a nice night out instead of being stuck in the apartment. But you were distracted, it was a long day. So you say, I do pay attention to you, if I didn’t I’d be screwed. Who crossed a line? They’d probably say they didn’t mean it, and go back to normal. But these things build up, so it’s important to measure your words and be kind.

“I don’t believe everything they say”

We consume media every day from different sources, and it’s getting harder to find the content we trust the most in a crowded social feed and a constantly changing influence economy. There’s a lot of people talking about how media makes choices to generate clicks and shares, but it’s happening with regular people and now we’re on the phase of elaborating strategies to use the platforms to have visibility and then manage our digital lives in a variety of ways, which isn’t easy when we’re interested in a variety of subjects. Sometimes you may feel like you’re talking to yourself; other times, something small takes bigger proportions. It’s not about who’s famous or not, it’s about what matters to discuss — but people have different voices and narratives, so making sense of what the real story is telling isn’t very easy, which is why we still rely on traditional media. But more importantly, sometimes you meet someone who doesn’t seem to have the best intentions. From spam links to direct messages promising you easy money, to new people who tell you they wanna date you or an ad promising you to teach you the fundamentals of the last thing you googled, we should take some time to think whether or not we want to spend time thinking about why they’re interacting with us. But people can choose to buy, to interact and to believe in whatever they think is a good, accurate representation of what they see for themselves, the people around them and the future.

***

We rephrase our thoughts a lot. Sometimes we don’t know how to say something because we have a language issue; other times, it’s an emotional issue. Relationships abroad have many limitations, but a ton of benefits. Understanding the world around us is a required skill for any future we can think of, but we don’t necessarily need to search for all the answers, and sometimes a short conversation fixes things, even if it’s just for a while. What’s important is we can still explain what we really think and acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes, but we’re people, who evolve and who have a natural tendency for cooperation so we can grow and develop better conditions to live in a world that can welcome any kind of cultural background and way of life.

Practical verbs: 11/12

We know people speak a language as standard, but there’s many aspects in how they use it that relate to general things like context, in every day life and different settings: are you at work, talking to family, approaching a stranger on the street, talking to a neighbor, socializing at a party, catching up with your closest friends, starting a conversation online, presenting results and directions at a company meeting, speaking in public or asking a question with a big audience, maybe recording a video? Some stuff we say tends to be more informal, but people appreciate informality in a given situation while other people in a formal enviroment expect a level of preparedness, coherence and clearness, avoiding certain characteristics of unplanned speech to make it worth taking the time to listen. In today’s world, despite some unfortunate conversation starters and interactions, we want people to be clear, but also kind and respectful. What happens often is the conversation you hear on the street is closer to reality than the conversation you read on social media, so people change the way they talk because experiences in the real world tend to have an effect on how we talk, more or less formally, with more or less conviction; but that goes the other way around, and we’re still beginning to understand how that plays out. Here’s two examples:

“I respect your opinion”

Families have suffered with political disagreements, opinions about behavior and relationships, things that should be done, looked at, talked about in one way or another. But as language develops, some people may reject what came next and stick with what they know. That’s a question of identity, the same way a person will listen to one kind of music and not another, or several, but have a list of favorites — and music is a great example of how language can be playful, raw, intense or just clever in ways normal speech can’t translate or express. What people call slang or urban language might just be your preferred way of communicating, not because of personal taste, but because you think it’s more accurate. I can say something’s nuts or insane, some people might prefer to say distressing, problematic, and others will use a good wtf. Needless to say, the list goes on. But when it comes to picking the language we use for a greater audience, we should be careful and look back to see where we might be caught in contradictions of ideas or interrupted argumentation, along with a lack of consistency in vocabulary choices and empathy for the wording we elaborate. Of course, one of the main concerns today is how conversations start with people we haven’t met, and these have the benefit of being distant, at least at first, before we consider meeting someone who would say things we’re hearing for the first time. Optimism is great, so special cases aside, it’s great when you find someone who not only respects your way of expressing thoughts (doesn’t judge you for how you talk) but also welcomes a new way of thinking, and some of the discussions people have online tend to be more focused on trolling than the good let’s agree to disagree.

“You’re not following the rules”

If the school body decides they will have a cultural project, students are supposed to come up with a presentation of topics they’ll research by themselves. Including some information might be a debate among classmates (at least it used to be like that when I was in high school and also college), while some of it will be left out, if not revised. But some of the things we say can’t be reproduced in certain enviroments. You’re not going to write an academic essay saying the author is fucking brilliant or a complete wacko; you’re going to say while the contributions of said author have broadened the field of study, the aspects explored in this or that chapter are not sufficiently developed or rather they point toward a discussion that this or that author chose to focus on, but you won’t address it on the essay. Some talk is necessary, some is inconvenient. In practical life, you might wanna ask for a towel when you got into the bathroom and forgot about it, but of course you won’t walk out naked and maybe you don’t wanna scream, though you might be upset about having to ask for a favor. On social media, there are a set of rules. There’s many things happening every year at rapid pace, and we might see a future where certain kinds of content will start to be more heavily monitored and even taken down, but some will have their own place, with an understanding that they’re not harmful. Nobody said memes weren’t great, but some of them are offensive on purpose, not to mention that images can be copyrighted. As we all moved towards video, creators face the problem of not knowing their audience, how to respond and what to do when someone attacks them. That happens on television, so it isn’t new. What we need to understand is that rules can be broken, but consistent and massive deviations from decent and civilized exchange are going to be dealt with measures the platform itself has generated, as any other problem in society.

***

Everyone thinks respect is key in any relationship we want to maintain. But it extends to society in general. A red light asks you to stop driving or walking. A block on social media asks you to stop seeking interaction. But drivers can get tickets and certain users can find better ways to solve disputes instead of the tool for blocking. Some people get banned, others get fined. But not everything works perfectly when it comes to identifying who’s doing right or wrong, and that’s a subject we need to keep debating not only in classrooms but in the media and society. When it comes to language, you want to feel represented, but not necessarily in opposition with a group you never interacted with — but that’s a choice you can make, considering that some of those may not be worthy of your time.

Practical verbs: 8/12

A lot of people have learned to speak a second language so they could explore the world, different cultures and ways of living, read people writing from another perspective, watch, listen, learn but also meet some people. I don’t like the feeling that I’m repeating myself, but it’s true that the internet provided more opportunity or at least changed the scope of possibility to a wider and more diverse bunch of stuff we can enjoy: from traditional to independent media, voices multiplied and experiences amounted, but now we’re facing the challenge to organize the multitudes of content everyone shares online and at the same time acknowledge that the people who created it feel a certain way about it. As generations look at different experiences and tastes, the conversations are also different and the expectations vary. YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, but also iFunny, Discord, Twitch, and places like Omegle. I know everyone has a particular experience, and these are not definitive examples of how people see the web and interact with it, but it’s a whole lot of stuff. Messaging apps alone can tell a story that parents are probably not aware of; groups chats and key people to follow can give you a context not a lot of people see, and you’re wondering how different you are from the rest. That happens at home but also around the globe, and connecting with someone for a day can be both frustrating or liberating, while long lasting friendships and relationships make us think about everything else that surrounds us, which includes the stuff we like and share, the stuff we read, buy and watch — which is terrifying for some, obvious to many. How am I going to introduce myself and talk about the way I see things, what happened before I met you, stuff I’ve been through or what I need to focus on right now so maybe you can help me achieve my goals? How can I contribute to a job well done in the future or right now, if the expectations get higher and higher, but my productivity and inspiration have a limit I don’t fully understand and I need someone to give me a push? I’ll try to contextualize some of these issues below.

“I wonder what I could’ve done differently”

It’s never too late to start something new, but what you do now is gonna stay on the internet unless you choose to delete everything — which might not solve the problem, and older people have not been through the exact same experience. With people sharing conversations, pictures and details about their life and relationships, it’s hard to tell when they change their minds about something they shared, but some people think it’s actually easier. Companies are saying the most important thing for them is not going digital, but being digital. How does that translate into good paying jobs, with what kinds of roles and benefits? When you’re preparing for life in a future workplace or doing your part remotely, how do your personal and professional relationships merge? Do you think your privacy is more important than thinking about how you spend your time and what you choose to say? Regardless of the specifics, we all have a number of things we didn’t know in the past, that could only be improved once we got to a point where we could look back and point out where we’d make changes, so the key is to be able to do some self evaluation and stick with the stuff that makes you feel good but also benefits those around you, though that might be more complicated in a super connected world.

“People send me a lot of messages”

The teenage and adult experiences on the web have a lot of differences, but interacting with things we don’t want has always been part of our lives. If I don’t want to visit the new shop they were showing me on a pamphlet on the street, I also don’t wanna watch the sponsored ad before the video I clicked, and we learned to live with that, though sometimes these little things can add a lot in our lives. But sometimes, it’s a little annoying or inappropriate. You could say the experience is different based on a number of things: gender, race, education, position, views; but when you get a message you don’t want, fortunately, it’s easy to reject it — ignoring, blocking or saying you don’t like what you’re getting. What’s harder to understand is how groups of people choose to spread a message you don’t like and how to stop it from gaining strength, but that involves other factors that we might never have a definitive answer on how to handle: if you were on the other side, you might feel like your voice was being silenced; but just in case we’re talking about inappropriate stuff on your private messages, I’m sure you’ll realize you have to stop them eventually.

“When you mess up, the right thing to do is to apologize”

Not a lot of people understand why they’re doing something that’s bad, for others or for themselves. People have different experiences and views, which is important to emphasize; but learning with your mistakes doesn’t always have to translate into cutting someone from your life so you can start fresh with another group of friends, another job, another relationship. If you mess up, try to have a conversation about it and tell the people who matter that you made a mistake, an error of judgment, acted silly, was childish or immature, weren’t thinking straight, didn’t mean what you said. These conversations help you grow, and growing together is lifting each other up so you don’t have to feel bad everytime you feel like you’re not being listened to or you aren’t doing enough: people care, what you do matters, but you need the right way to communicate. Of course, sometimes we make mistakes that aren’t about arriving late at work or typing out the wrong e-mail, but maybe saying something that could offend people as a joke, hurting someone’s feelings with a comment about their looks, personality or opinions. We need to keep improving the message, and that means reassessing the way we express ourselves and working it out with the people who care, as well as looking to the ones who are not part of your inner circle and trying to speak to them in a way that will make you more likely to be accepted.

“If I see that kind of stuff, I report it”

Some of the stuff we see is just bad. But there’s always a way to bring content down or at least make people correct what they’re saying, whether it’s fake news or hateful discourse, a spam account or an offensive message from a real person. Again, people can ignore, but some choose to talk about it; they can block, but also report and, in some cases, expose so other people can explain why that content is bad. But it’s important to remember that moderators do the best they can, with the tools available, to make the experience on the web the best for the people who use these platforms. Before social media, when something bad happened in the neighborhood, people wrote to the newspapers and magazines to talk about it; services and companies have a channel to receive feedback from people, and though some of the comments are not helpful or fair, they make changes on how they present themselves based on how people respond. The same happens on the web.

***

To end on a good note, sharing experiences online can be beautiful, if the right person is listening. To be able to connect with someone who brings you peace and comfort when you were least expecting it, right when you needed it, whether it’s someone who listens to your problems or tries to help you more actively with suggestions and incentives, is probably what the whole idea of connecting people is all about. What we should remember is our lives are not exclusively digital, and though we want to make a good impression, actions speak louder than words — and pictures or videos. Hopefully, everyone can find people who want to know who we are based on more than just one thing, and if they choose to be in our lives for good, it’s the start of a path you’ll walk together, with lots of great experiences ahead.

Practical verbs: 9/12

Having an answer to your questions has never been easier. Besides Wikipedia and Google showing the most recent stories on any given topic, we have users contributing with discussions which most of the time appear on the page according to how people are responding, and it’s not like we’re in the beginning of adaptation to social media, where trending was a completely new word, or at least referred to a new context. But you might hear someone ask you to look it up yourself, get your facts, call you names for what you’re sharing because they don’t like where it’s coming from or start an offensive on you because of how you chose to express yourself or what you’re reproducing. On a different level, schools now understand that class preparation involves looking up information online, society responds faster in organized outrage or support, depending on the case, along with other feelings that are now labeled and dealt with in a new standard, but you don’t see parents skipping a conversation with their kids because the media, new and old, is going to give them a better answer — on the contrary. What we should be aware of, along with social background, is that some of what we want to know is curiosity, while some of the solutions for how to fix problems really depend on people who are looking for the answers instead of waiting on them; but on a personal level, it’s important to wait for relationships to mature before you develop expectations of an honest reply or someone doing you a favor. Think about these examples:

“What can I say?”

Someone tells you a story about what they’re going through. It’s difficult for them to open up, so they decided to do it with you, who they barely know, but it’s easier to talk to someone who won’t judge them and they won’t have to see day after day, depending on the case. It could be anything: if you just started talking, they could send you a meme but you don’t know what it’s about; a song, but you never heard of the artist; a picture, but you don’t like talking like that; a link, but you don’t have the time to go through it; they might be calling you to talk to someone and tell you what’s on their mind, but you’ve got problems of your own, so it’s a little overwhelming to listen and you don’t know how to help. Instead of providing them with an answer, maybe it’s best to say you don’t know how to respond — ignoring isn’t great, but there’s so many people who want us to give them attention that maybe it’s not that bad if you just claim the time for yourself, cause nobody said answering is your obligation.

“Can I ask you something?”

You’re talking to your best friend. They heard about you getting accepted in college, and they know how hard it is to get in, with millions competing for the same chance to study there and a very demanding test. But you know you both live in a different city, and it’s tough to save money to do basic things. It might be uncomfortable, but you need to ask what they’re going to do if they have to move. Of course, the context is just to help you understand that some questions should be properly introduced, but we know it could just come up in the conversation. It’s not insulting if you tell your friend you got approved and instead of congratulating you they ask if you have an apartment. If you say you do, then they’ll be happy for you, cause that means they’re thinking about what really matters and they’re not just talking to sound interested. Maybe they’ll try to help you with the process, asking if you have a fridge at home for the time you’ll spend in the dorm, edit your resume when you’re looking for your first job, hang out with you around the city. In any case, that kind of question is about whether or not they want to talk about stuff. It could be something else, but asking first involves thinking about how important it is to talk about it and how sensitive the topic is.

“We tell each other everything”

I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to be in a relationship where we both know what the other is doing, cause we’re always together. To be fair, I do remember, but I just can’t see it happening the same way after at least a decade of distractions. Maybe I’m a jealous guy, but that doesn’t mean I need to know where you are, at what time, with who, how often. But I can always ask. If we’re supposed to meet for lunch but you can’t come, a simple message will do. I won’t be thinking about it the whole day. But if I invited you for Christmas Eve with my family and you said that wasn’t a good idea, then I’ll try to understand, but we’re talking about it later. If we don’t, we’re a weird couple. Just tell me your mom thought you didn’t care about spending time together anymore and she was frustrated last time you came home and left after an hour, so you’ll make it up to her. Of course, it’s important to talk about other stuff too, but the things we choose not to talk about can amount to a lot, and most of the time, we show signs of how we really feel in the little things we do or say.

“I don’t know how to answer”

You shared a link on Facebook talking about a geopolitical conflict. It’s something you were interested in, but actually you just thought it was time for a change on your page, cause you started thinking people didn’t take you seriously. Then you dad saw it, and wanted to show you a video with a completely opposing view. You’re not gonna ask if he clicked the link, but you know he saw what you posted and if the point was sharing, you know you have to listen to his side. Then he talks on and on about things that the link you shared was not mentioning, but you think it shouldn’t be the focus of the topic. Sometimes, we keep quiet: most of the things we see on our feed, like a lot of things in life, we just ignore. But your dad is asking for your attention and you need to say something back. Except you don’t feel like it at all. So you don’t, cause you don’t wanna pick up a fight. That happens more than you think. It’s important that we answer, but we’d like to believe that being always ready to have a long discussion on any issue at hand is not mandatory, so we might wanna skip it.

“If you want trust, don’t lie”

As we have to deal with more and more complex social lives and an overload of information, seeing different sides of things, people and the relationships we have with them is a natural process. But when we say one thing here and another there, it shows a lack of consistency, which sometimes can be interpreted as lack of character, though it’s not our intention to mislead anyone. People lie, including people who are responsible for a message with a lot of reach; but if there’s anything you’re not telling and it’s important that you’re on the same page, maybe it’s time to talk about it, instead of keeping your thoughts to yourself and the facts hidden so other people can’t learn about them — ideally, though not everyone is interested in learning about the good and the bad.

***

These verbs can have a completely different context, but asking and answering both make you more actively involved with language, so you can shape your perceptions based on what you want to know and what you learn, but also how people feel. When someone asks you a difficult question, you’ll find yourself having trouble answering, but if you’re talking about using your second language, it’s crucial to understand there’s a set of things at play when you try to pick words in a way that is true to who you are and what you think while bridging differences in culture and identity.

Practical verbs: 7/12

They say time slows down when you’re not happy and speeds up when you are, but it’s harder to talk about what you’re doing and who you’re with thinking everyone’s on the same page: if reading makes you feel good, someone else might have a different kind of leisure activity; if I like going to concerts, that doesn’t mean everyone who listens to the same music wants to spend time together, because it’s natural that they agree on everything and love each other. You might also hear that it’s never too late to start something new: invest in education, think about a different area of work, get married or have kids. You’ll hear that you should seize the day cause you only live once, or maybe someone will talk about being in a good relationship saying you only miss it when it’s gone. Time takes its toll on people, perceptions and attitudes change and we can’t help looking back on how we saw things and ourselves. In the process, we’ll remember the challenges but also the rewards; the consistent routine and the sporadic getaways; we’ll want to go back, but realize it’s probably better to learn with what happened, which made way for better things in the future. Here’s a few practical examples:

“Remember that girl from school?”

On a different angle, we could talk about that guy. Today, it’s easier to find someone online instead of just wondering what they’re doing with their lives, but of course some people prefer to keep a distance from social media presence and maintain their privacy. When people meet again after a long time, the memories keep coming back. Maybe you have a friend who hasn’t talked to you in years, but it feels the same, even after you went on completely different paths. Then you’ll start talking about stuff from when you were younger. It’s great when two people share good memories. My dad has stories about fishing and picking fruit up the trees at the front yard of his old home; I’ll stick with the old pictures, TV shows and games from when I was in highschool. The generations after me might be talking about apps and people they’ve never met, ocasionally sharing the meme of how grandma met grandpa, posing on Instagram with a duck face. Not necessarily, of course, cause that’s really just a meme.

“I forgot my appointment”

Our memory is a beautiful thing, but also a mystery. Sometimes, we forget critical things, like a the time of a test or an important medical exam date, but in general, our brains make room for better stuff to replace old disappointments, or things we want to leave behind. In daily life, it’s more about the alarm clock, doing the laundry, buying shampoo or sending a message to a friend. At work, we keep stuff on our calendars and we have goals to reach and procedures to follow, which should always be on our minds. Maybe you’ll forget someone’s name, and you’re embarrassed to ask; maybe it’s something they’ve told you. You’ll forget how something got more expensive or what someone said years ago when they asked them: it happens a lot with public people. But most of the time you can work your way around that stuff, apologize for being late at work cause you forgot to set the clock, ask someone again about what you discussed, including teachers and students, and it’s easier than ever to check for information you forgot as long as you have internet access, but also checking your own notes on complex issues that took you some time to organize your thoughts on.

“I miss the way it used to be”

Maybe you’re not happy with your new home, cause everything was in place since you were little where you used to live. Maybe it’s a relationship that got complicated after one part got a promotion, lost a job, had to start something new. It might be a kind of leadership you’re not excited about or a habit you had to let go of because you couldn’t live life the same way. Or it could be a special person who doesn’t have the same presence in your life anymore. It could be a feeling, a place, something you used to see, to hear or to do. But one of the best things in the world is to finally meet someone again and tell them how much you missed them. They’ll feel loved and appreciated, and letting it out shows that you care about them and the moments you spent together, sharing the good things in life.

***

Understanding these verbs requires looking at the past, but contextualizing them is not as simple as memorizing the ways language works. Remembering stuff is a skill a lot of students have to develop over time, so talking about stuff you remember in a foreign language might be harder, as well as what you wanna forget or what you miss. But being able to have these conversations will surely make you feel better about the moments we build together with other people, who might be distant, but feel the same way as you do.

Practical verbs: 6/12

I created my first e-mail account at 15. Using the keyboard was a moment of anxiety because I knew my friends had more expertise, but through college, I learned to edit footnotes and use shortcuts to make the title of my essay bold. Despite the fact that lots of high school students are now writing essays and do a lot more than formatting a simple paragraph, in the near future we might be discussing whether or not to use virtual reality to entertain babies. Reading and writing are essential skills for actively participating in society, but as more skills get more complex and restricted to some extent, good materials to read or good written pieces become both a matter of taste and an indicator of social inequalities: instead of how many books you have at home, they might be asking how many likes you got on your public post. In theory, if better education wasn’t affordable or accessible to you, the interest in a number of topics of research might be lower, and the same might be true for social media activity, if you’re not given opportunity to meet more people and expand your views. With that in mind, I wanna share two statements that explain what I’m talking about:

“Turn off the TV and go read a book!”

Before YouTube, but not before downloads, most of us listened to music either borrowing stuff from our friends or getting what was on the radio. Not all of us bought CDs, but definitely lots of people. Still, we needed people to talk about what we liked to listen to, and though we had a lot of specialized magazines with extensive coverage on the industry and entertainment in general, there were also broadcasted programs. If you’re Brazilian, you might remember the phrase on local MTV. Maybe they noticed that many bought records, listened to the radio and went to concerts, but few understood what the artists were saying. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what the idea was about. But they did point to a need of searching for culture, knowledge and information that was useful and edifying. In college, I read many authors in Literature and Linguistics, but I didn’t make any Italian friends who quoted Agamben on Instagram or joined a Facebook group to discuss Derrida with my third language fully active in my brain. I just knew an outline of a topic studied more extensively by these authors (Saussure, Bakhtin, Barthes, Fairclough, Kress and many others) and tried to make connections and draw ideas from them. Literature is more complicated. I knew I was studying something that basically brought me joy. Linguistics was my work, and until I realized it could be the other way around, I was skeptical about a lot of my choices going forward. Don’t get me wrong: I love both. But we do need to allow exploration and experimentation in our lives, and books are able to show people what kinds of things we could find out about the world and ourselves, instead of just focusing on the practical and immediate.

“If nobody’s listening, write!”

Curiously, I saw this written on the back of a bus seat in São Paulo, and my reaction was to take a picture and post it on Instagram. I was always the guy who had few words to share and didn’t actively participate in conversation within social gatherings. Of course, one of the points is “social gatherings” didn’t feel like a thing we hear about every single day until recently (compare with a snap saying “who wanna hang?”), but really, not talking a lot makes you focus on something else, or maybe it’s the other way around. You’re naturally inclined to observe more than you interact. Regardless of the explanation or where it comes from (psychology, media experts or your mother), some of us share more of our intimate thoughts through writing (I think I can say tweets count) instead of conversations in person. We’re the generation who grew up on the internet, but the one that came next is literally saying “well, duh”. So how can we make things interesting and also fair? What we write makes an impact, but only if people read us. On a different level, we’re starting to see that conversation is changing exactly because we have written representations of them, while we didn’t before. It’s more important than ever to analyze context instead of isolated language, just in case we still care about who’s talking to whom, about what, but also why — and to try to understand that everyone has something to share, but some people won’t, for many reasons.

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The world isn’t turning exclusively to videos, as some media studies indicate: people still buy books, and many more need to be written. However, we’ve become our own editors, in a sense: the choice of sharing a thought without reviewing language or reposting something without knowing the context of where it came from, connected to the problems of image and literally how we represent ourselves, in many ways, can prove us that though we feel like it’s easier to be misunderstood than taken seriously or to generate conflict instead of empathy, maybe it’s good that nobody cares about everything you do anymore. If we accept that people change the way they talk and sometimes they say what they shouldn’t, we’ll be fine; and hopefully, the same works for image and video.