Fake News. Fake Facts. Fake Everything! What’s Your Part in All of This?

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Go back to when you were a kid. It doesn’t matter how long ago. I bet you anything that at some point you turned to your mother, or father, or aunt, or whomever was responsible for you, and you said something around these lines:

“Oh, but everybody else is going!” 

Or doing. Or getting. Or anything else that meant that a lot of other kids were having a “yes” where you received a “no”. And then, well, I bet, once again, the reply came to you in the form of a phrase kind of like this one: 

“Well, if “everybody” jumps out the window will you, too?”

Ouch! 

That was code for “this conversation is over”. It also carried a more profound meaning we were all supposed to carry through life: we should be ourselves and make up our own minds. Except for those times when it meant going up against our parents! – but that’s a whole other conversation…

For whatever reason, at different times, we heard that – and we understood what it stood for. We are individuals. So, whenever big, important or dangerous moments show themselves in our lives (and they will, time and time again) we must think, analyse and respond according to our own better judgment – for we will be accountable for our actions.

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Pretty simple stuff, right? But then, well, here comes something called the internet, and a 24 hour news-cycle, and WhatsApp and this tiny little thing we keep hearing about: fake news! So it all came and it complicated matters and now everybody is unavoidably caught in this giant net of some dirty word I prefer not to write here.

But… really? Let’s just stop and take a deep breath for a minute. 

Pushing aside the new forms of media, the fact remains: it’s the same old human world with a different “look”.

It used to be urban legend spread by “word of mouth”, now it’s absurd lies spread by… well, our nervous fingers pushing the “click” button. 

When I was a child, for instance, I witness (and participated in) a period of mass-hysteria in the school I attended at the time. It went on for months, I think. Some story about a “cloaked figure” that kept appearing and terrorising kids in bathrooms, empty corridors and dark corners.

Now… Was it really hard for me to figure out that something like a “man-in-a-black-cloak” made no sense at all – because everyone swearing to have seen it was under twelve years old, had absolutely no concrete proof to back it up and could not formulate a single good explanation as to why the adults of the school would just let the thing go on and not do anything about it?… 

Not at all, I have to say. But the funny thing was: as it was pretty quick for me to notice the “fake” drama, a lot of other kids (older and more knowledgeable than I was) kept it up. You know why? As I observed, some of them were having fun with it, and others were addicted to it. While at that time I didn’t understand exactly why, the fact is a lot of people get addicted to being afraid or under pressure, or in a constant battle. It’s a rush. And they feel like they need it.

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Fast-Forward to the year of 2019. We live in the era of abundant information. So, as hard as you, or me (or the 12 year-old-kid who started my school urban-legend) want to believe in something, that doesn’t make it true. So, eventually, from the top of my seven or eight long years of experience in life, I had to admit my school was not that interesting and scary. It was just a school. Full of other terrors, of course (as any reader of my novel “Batismo” might have guessed rsrs), but none of them including a “cloaked something-or-other”. 

I’m not saying with all of this that spreading “fake whatever” should be ignored and just go on unpunished. On the contrary. I believe the bigger the microphone or the taller the pile of money, the more accountable you should be. It’s bad enough that you would throw trash out in the world because of your irrational beliefs and fears, but to do it in cold-blooded, strategised way as to take advantage of others to achieve your own dark purposes… Well, honestly, “falling into disgrace” comes to mind as a deserved consequence for that.

“Oh, ok, Flávia… So what do you mean?” I mean, we can all do something about it.  We are just people, so, naturally, we have our hopes and dreams, our fears, traumas, prejudices (ugly word, right? But yes we do, and the earlier you face that, the faster you improve yourself in that department). And it is pretty tempting to just hear or read or watch STUUUUUUPID stuff all around, that is over there just to blink at you saying “you’re right”. 

Tempting. Not unavoidable. For we are all of that I just said before. But we are also creatures of instinct. And we know, deep inside, when something “smells” a little (or A LOT) off… And, well, since we, you know, have a brain, why not wait two minutes and think, and check, and, when in doubt, DO NOT CLICK on “share” or DO NOT VOTE for that guy just because of ONE “fact” that simply doesn’t add up by any rational standard?! 

So, though this new world we live in, right now, can strike us as just too complicated to be properly manageable, try to remember that, at it’s core, it remains the same. Because, at the end of the day, the simple truth stands in the old words we all heard as children: we don’t have to jump out that window.  

Desejos de Ano Novo: A Única Coisa que Você Deveria Realmente Colocar na Lista

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Eu vinha tentando escrever alguma coisa para o The Carioca no espírito de encerrar a temporada, por assim dizer, e dar um adeus decente para o ano singular que foi 2018. Mas eu me vi em grandes dificuldades… Não é algo que seja comum para mim. Embora escrever seja sempre trabalho duro, o tal “branco” ou “bloqueio de escritor” nunca fez parte da minha natureza.

De repente, eu entendi o problema – e era a exata coisa (eu me dei conta instantaneamente) que tinha que ser o único item da minha lista de desejos (planos, resoluções, ou como queira chamar…) para o novo ano, enquanto 2019 ia surgindo no horizonte: eu desejo SER EU MESMA.

Pensando “oh, mas isso é simples demais”? Pense de novo. No fim das contas, eu noto que o que acaba faltando é, normalmente… nós mesmos! E essa é a razão pela qual terminamos por nos sentir tão vazios, mesmo quando parece que temos tudo.

Eu trombei com esse pensamento pela primeira vez enquanto tentava escrever algo sobre “depressão de fim de ano”. Eu simplesmente não conseguia fazê-lo. Eu estava escrevendo e escrevendo ( e, boy, como eu estava escrevendo mal!) e nada realmente estava saindo dali. De repente, eu soube: aquilo não era “eu”!

A ideia era honesta. Eu me senti motivada a escrever sobre isso depois de notar, mais uma vez, que algumas pessoas realmente ótimas, e razoavelmente felizes, tendem a se sentir “pra baixo” nessa época do ano e por que eu penso que isso acontece. Então, o tema estava lá, na minha mente, algumas palavras dançando por ali, mas as coisas não estavam tomando forma facilmente como é o usual que aconteça.

A verdade é: eu não estava de fato engajada no texto, porque atualmente eu não sou tanto uma pessoa de falar de problemas quanto sou de soluções. Não tanto sobre passado (ou futuro, aliás) quanto sou do presente. Não tanto sobre sofrimentos e dúvidas, quanto sou de alegria e fé – não num sentido religioso, de jeito nenhum, mas fé de que não existe tal coisa feito “perda”, mas apenas um processo de aprendizado e de saborear a vida, mesmo quando não está exatamente um “passeio no parque”. 

Esse pensamento me levou muito profundamente ao meu próprio interior, enquanto eu tentava me lembrar o que foi que eu desejei durante outros períodos de fim de ano. Tantas imagens me vieram à cabeça…

Eu desejei ter melhores notas na escola no ano seguinte.

Eu desejei me livrar daqueles dez quilos extras!

Eu desejei finalmente ir estudar teatro e escrita criativa.

Eu desejei a chance de viajar pra toda a parte.

Publicar um livro.

Ver um roteiro meu virar um filme de verdade.

Nunca mais me preocupar com dinheiro!

Bem, eu não sei sobre os seus desejos. Talvez você tenha tido (ou tenha nesse exato momento) alguns em comum comigo. Talvez não. Isso não importa. Porque esses desejos são, na verdade… bom… eles são meio que falsos! Eles são uma embalagem, uma capa, uma miragem encobrindo seu verdadeiro significado. O que eu realmente sempre quis (e, verdadeiramente, acredito agora que todo mundo quer também) foi ser mais EU MESMA.

O problema não era que eu queria boas notas. Era que eu sentia, por vezes, que eu não estava alcançando meu verdadeiro potencial. E certamente não era sobre eu estar acima do peso quando adolescente, mas, por outro lado, sobre o fato de eu não estar me reconhecendo no espelho. Estudar teatro e escrita não era puramente sobre a atividade em si, mas sobre me colocar em situações onde eu estava plenamente confortável na minha própria pele – ao invés de fazer outros cursos que outras pessoas achavam ser certos pra mim. E a lista segue e segue.

Nunca era sobre as coisas que eu achava querer tanto, mas sobre caminhar em direção à minha “casa”. Porque é assim que eu penso em cada um de nós hoje. Nós somos nossa própria casa. Ou pelo menos deveríamos ser. Se apenas nós fizermos o muito simples, mas duro, esforço de silenciar as vozes que vem de fora e nos alinharmos com aquela coisa que é nossa para tomar posse. Nossa essência. Nossa casa. NÓS MESMOS.

New Year’s Wishes: The One Thing To Really Put On The List

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I’ve been trying to write something for The Carioca in the spirit of wrapping things up, so to speak, and say a proper farewell to this unique year that was 2018. But I found myself struggling… Not something common for me. Though writing is always hard work, the so called “blank” or “writer’s block” has never been part of my nature.

Suddenly, I figured out the problem – and it was the very thing (I instantly knew) had to be the single item on my list of wishes for the new year, as 2019 was rising on the horizon: I wish to BE MYSELF.

Thinking “oh, this is just too simple”? Think again. After all is said and done, I notice the thing we end up lacking is usually… ourselves! And that is why we sometimes keep feeling so empty, even when it seems we have it all.

I first stumbled over this thought as I was trying to write about “end-of-the-year-blues”. I just couldn’t do it. I was writing and writing (and boy, was I writing badly!) and nothing was really coming out of that. Suddenly, I got it. That wasn’t “me”!

The idea was honest. I felt compelled to write about it after noticing, once again, that some truly fine and relatively happy people tend to feel really down this time of year and why I thought this keeps happening. So the theme was there, in my mind, some words just dancing around, but it was not shaping up easily as it usually does.

The truth is: my heart was not really in it, for these days I’m not so much a person to talk about problems as I am about the solutions. Not so much about the past (or the future, for that matter) as I am about the present. Not so much about sorrows and doubts, as I am about joy and faith – not in a religious sense, not at all, but faith that there is not such a thing as loss, but just a process of learning and enjoying life, even when it’s not exactly a walk in the park.

That notion carried me very deeply into myself while I tried to remember what was that I wished for during other end-of-the-year periods. So many images came to mind…

I wished for better grades at school the following year.

I wished to get rid of those extra 20 pounds!

I wished I would finally study drama and creative writing.

I wished for a chance to travel everywhere.

To publish a book.

To see one of my scripts turned into a real movie.

To never again worry about money!

Well, I don’t know about your wishes. Maybe you had (or even have right now) some in common with mine. Maybe not. That doesn’t matter at all. Because these wishes are actually… well… they’re kind of fake! They are a package, a cover, a mirage masking their one true meaning. What I really always wanted (and, I truly believe now, so does everybody else) was to be more of MYSELF.

The problem wasn’t that I wanted good grades. It was that I felt, sometimes, that I was not matching my true potential. And it certainly was not about being overweight as a teenager; but, instead, about the fact that I was not recognising myself in the mirror! Studying drama and writing was not solely about the activity, per se, but about putting myself in situations where I was fully conformable in my own skin – instead of doing other courses that were also absolutely interesting and useful, but that were what other people  thought would be right for me. And so the list goes on and on.

It was never about the things I thought I wanted so much, but about moving towards home. For that is how I think about each one of us today. We are our very own homes. At least we are supposed to be. If we only make the very simple, but hard, effort to shut down the outside voices and align with that thing that is ours to claim. Our essence. Our home. Ourselves. 

Starting Fresh… Is That Really Possible?

Life as a blank piece of paper. Every stupid mistake you’ve ever made erased. All the possibilities in your hand like a brand new, beautiful pen. You can just start writing a new story and this time it will all be just right.

Recognise the fantasy? I bet you do, because we all indulge in it, from time to time.  I, myself, probably began by the age of twelve – for my friends never get tired of telling me how very old I was from the early days and, well, they do have a point!

Well, right now, in my life, I had the opportunity of turning fantasy into reality. I decided to go to another country. I got rid of everything that was old, or broken, or not quite to my taste. I carefully selected my favorite clothes, books, small objects. I even did a complete check-up with my doctor just to make sure I would be turning the page in a perfectly healthy, fresh, perfect way. And then, suddenly, I found myself inside an airplane. Ten hours later, here I was: in my very own “starting fresh dream come true”.

But was I? Really? It never felt completely like that… I mean, the whole new country, new city, new apartment, new everything feeling came over me, of course, and it’s quite overwhelming – in a nice way, I mean, at least for me, a person who does love changes. Getting passed that, what did I really find on my supposed-to-be blank page?Myself. A lot of new things, for sure, but they were just sitting on top, and being shaped by, the same old base that I know so very well and answers by the name of Flávia Ruiz.

Was I suddenly braver or more of an extrovert just because nobody around knows me anyway and who cares?… No! I was all the same in that department. Was I free of my fear of heights? Or birds? Horses? Bees? Basically everything that is found in open air spaces (yes, the list goes on and on….)? Absolutely not. What about cooler or more confident when it comes to my ambitions and my work choices? Oh, yes, you keep dreaming!

The thing is, I quickly found myself dealing with the same things in my own same way. Does that mean I will, from now on, advise people against big changes? Not at all!Much on the contrary. I urge everyone to do it, in any way they want or can. For external change is the thing to always look you in the eye and scream to your face: “you cannot run away”. From life, from weaknesses, from yourself. You cannot. In fact, the opposite happens.

Some strange force of nature pushes you to be more and more of yourself. Sometimes, in an intensely painful way. And the very moment you realize that, is the moment you begin walking the path that leads to what you tried to do in the first place, in a more instantaneous, but not at all real, way: to write a new, not story, but chapter. For the story has started a long time ago. It can never be erased. And isn’t that just precisely what makes it so amazing?…

Começar do Zero… Isso é Mesmo Possível?

A vida como uma folha de papel em branco. Cada erro estúpido que você já cometeu, apagado. Todas as possibilidades na sua mão como uma nova e linda caneta. Você pode apenas começar a escrever uma nova história e dessa vez vai dar tudo certo.

Reconhece a fantasia? Eu aposto que sim, porque todos nós nos deliciamos com ela, de tempos em tempos. Eu mesma provavelmente comecei ali pelos doze anos – meus amigos não se cansam de dizer quão velha eu já era desde os primeiros anos e, bom, eles têm uma certa razão!

Então, neste momento, na minha vida, tive a oportunidade de transformar a fantasia em realidade. Decidi me mudar para outro país. Me livrei de tudo o que era velho, ou quebrado, ou não exatamente do meu gosto. Cuidadosamente selecionei minhas roupas, livros e pequenos objetos favoritos. Até fiz um check-up completo com a minha médica só para ter certeza de que eu estaria virando a página totalmente saudável, nova em folha. E aí, de repente, eu me vi dentro de um avião. Dez horas depois, aqui estava eu: no meu próprio sonho de começar do zero, tornado real.

Mas eu estava mesmo partindo do zero? De fato? A sensação nunca foi completamente essa… Quer dizer, aquela sensação toda de novo país, novo apartamento, novo tudo aconteceu. Mais do que aconteceu, me atropelou – de uma maneira ótima, pelo menos pra mim, uma pessoa que adora mudanças. Mas passado esse primeiro susto, o que eu realmente encontrei no que deveria ser a minha “página em branco”? Eu mesma. Um monte de coisas novas, com certeza, mas elas estavam apenas “sentadas” no topo de, e sendo moldadas por, uma velha base que eu conheço tão bem e que atende pelo nome de Flávia Ruiz.

Eu estava subitamente mais corajosa ou extrovertida só porque ninguém por aqui me conhece mesmo e quem se importa?… Não! Eu estava livre do meu medo de altura? Ou de pássaros? Cavalos? Abelhas? Basicamente qualquer coisa que pode ser encontrada em lugares ao ar livre (sim, a lista segue e segue…)? De jeito nenhum. Que tal mais descolada ou confiante no que se refere às minhas ambições e escolhas profissionais? Oh, sim, vai sonhando!…

A questão é: eu rapidamente me encontrei lidando com as mesmas coisas da minha própria e velha maneira. Isso quer dizer que eu vou, de agora em diante, aconselhar as pessoas a não fazer mudanças? Nem de longe! Muito ao contrário. Eu apelo firmemente a todos que o façam, da forma que possam ou queiram, ou quanto antes. Porque a mudança externa é a coisa que vai sempre te olhar nos olhos e gritar na sua cara: “você não pode fugir”. Da vida, das fraquezas, de você mesma. Não pode. Na verdade, o oposto acontece.

Alguma estranha força da natureza te empurra a ser mais e mais você mesma. Às vezes, de forma intensamente dolorosa. E no exato momento em que você realiza isso, essa é a hora em que você começa a percorrer o caminho que leva para onde você queria ir em primeiro lugar, de forma bem mais instantânea, mas nem um pouco real: o caminho de escrever, não uma história, mas um capítulo novo. Porque a história começou há muito tempo. Não pode jamais ser apagada. E não é precisamente isso que a torna tão incrível?…