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Arestas do Brasil / Edges of Brazil

Emotion with misinformation

Bruno Peron, 24 March 2017

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I repeatedly hit the key that Brazil has a population that is creative, affectionate, modern and with an enormous potential for liberation from its civic backwardness. Our country does not only mix in the blood of different ethnic sources, but also in the tastes and purposes of those who search for the meaning of this nation. Such pursuit has been intermediated by strangeness and insecurities among Brazilians, who unfortunately live in the state of emotion with misinformation. Here is what I mean by this assertion.

I think, at first, about the difficulty Brazilians have to examine information before taking conclusions. The greatest economic and political issues in Brazil generate a few notable examples to consider. One of the most polemical is the Weak Meat (Carne Fraca) operation conducted by the Federal Police. In a few days, people stopped eating animal protein while countries interrupted their imports of Brazilian products because of misinformation. Irregularities in the production of processed meat have turned into the spectacular and media generalisation of a supposed “weak meat”. Thus, Brazilians follow certain emotions (disgust, doubt, revolt, mockery) through the instantaneous circulation of messages in social networks (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.).

The variations of emotion have not differed much regarding the debates on the reform of the Social Security and on the labour reform. Brazilians have the habit of chewing information very few times before swallowing it, contrarily to what doctors prescribe. A result of this is once again emotion with misinformation. Our government has been criticised for extinguishing our rights, which Brazilians demand fiercely, although the majority ignores its duties in face of an employer, a neighbour, a city and a country. Brazilians have got used to living together with misinformation to support their personal interests and lifestyles, whatever is the social cost involved. The Brazilian retirement system has come to the brink of collapse due to bad administration, to deviations that are routine in governmental offices and to the tireless appeal to benefits that bring personal advantages. However, each one takes resources (money, energy, etc.) from the other in order to keep the balance of this system. Therefore, negative accounts and bills indicate that more has been taken than the amount that entered as contribution.

The situation that the labour reform faces is not too different. The Brazilian contracting system via the Consolidation of Labour Laws (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho, CLT) has been unable to reduce unemployment and increase competitiveness of companies in this country. There is in Brazil an artificial scenery of obligations towards workers, but employers are becoming increasingly cautious to follow them because now the concern is how to make their businesses survive and not perish. Added to this is the full victimisation of workers in labour claims, which drain even more resources from where it lacks. Brazil has a system that takes naturally to a higher unemployment rate and to the reduction of salaries. Outsourcing of all activities (middle and end) emerges as an option for Brazil not to sink, although it is not a definitive solution for the problem.

The pathway to citizenship is, in fact, tortuous for Brazilians; it is like a glimpse on the horizon of a little piece of hope that neither fades nor appears completely. Brazilians’ emotions are in force and radiate on all sides. The intensity of the exchange of messages, pictures, recordings and videos through social networks certify them profusely. It is joy, delight, concern, hate, revenge and defamation everywhere in this truly democratic forum that the Internet is. Nevertheless, something has been left behind. I ponder seriously upon our lack of citizen formation to investigate information, filter them, regenerate them and forward them accordingly in a more responsible way.

My concern is with the prevalence of emotion over reason in the spontaneous behaviour of Brazilians. It becomes worse when emotion combines with misinformation; thus, there would be a jump to hasty conclusions of events, ideas and proposals. I imagine a day in which general interest will be stronger than self-interest. One day.