Life Without Facebook Experiment: Day 12

Exciting news!  One of my friends finally noticed I wasn’t on Facebook.  It happened yesterday (Day 11) and she texted me to make sure I was ok.  We had a lengthy personal chat via text, which while not the old-fashioned ‘voice call,’ at least we were able to catch up on each others’ lives.  I explained that I was taking a sabbatical from the social media, and she understood but said that she still finds it good for keeping up with her out-of-town friends.  She was worried that she’d done something to make me ‘unfriend’ her and I reassured her that was not the case at all.  

How sad is it that social media makes texting back and forth seem more intimate?  Pretty soon we will lose the ability to converse altogether and just be giving ‘thumbs up’ and nodding.  Instead of writing e-mails to friends about happenings in our lives, we just spit out quick updates and hope our friends catch what’s happening on their news feeds.  How long before we start paying Facebook to ‘promote’ our personal posts or have a script doctor spruce them up to make them more compelling?  

So while everyone used to say ‘How many friends do you have?,’ perhaps the new goal should be ‘How many friends have you culled?’ If you took a long hard look at your Facebook list of friends and took off everyone you don’t actually want to talk to on the phone, how many would you end up with?   Are you using it to stay in touch with the people you care about, or is it the way you project the image of the person you want them to see?  Each of us has probably ‘unfriended’ that annoying spouse of a friend who never stops promoting their miracle weight loss shakes.  Or the friend from elementary school who keeps proclaiming his political opinion so loudly that just blocking his posts wasn’t enough.  So how many Facebook friends is too many?Image

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Music Discovery In An Unlikely Place

My friend Johnna is Jazzer-crazy.  She is passionate about her Jazzercise workouts, and it’s obvious by the way she springs into ‘high impact aerobic’ mode and sweats her butt off in every class.  My titanium hips prefer a ‘lower impact mode’ that matches some of the senior citizens in the group, but I still think I get a pretty good workout after 60 minutes.

Jazzercise instructors are allowed to put together their own 60 minute sets, with a few stipulations from the home office for tempo and building heart rate, etc.  Having had a background in the music industry, I was fascinated to learn that a woman older than my mother selects the music and choreographs many of the routines.  Jazzercise founder Judi Sheppard Missett turns 70 this year, and from photos of her, this program has obviously been good for her since she founded the organization in 1969.

But if you think Jazzercise is for old people, think again!  Participants range from 16 to 76, and everybody does as much or as little as they can do.  The trick is to stay moving.  I even got my husband to be one of 2 to 3 men in the class for 7 months but finally couldn’t take the calling out from our instructor, who loves to talk and draw attention to people who haven’t been to class in a while.  (Seriously, she should be a character on Saturday Night Live.)

While I don’t love every song we dance to, I have been exposed to some that I never would have heard otherwise.  The music is a crazy mixture of everything from country to hip-hop, so there’s something for everybody.  Here are a few of my faves I have discovered through Jazzercise:

1.  Robbie Williams ‘Candy’ – I’ve been hip to this ego-maniac former boy-band singer since I saw him in an acoustic showcase near the Capitol Records tower in Los Angeles in the ’90s.  From the British boy band Take That, Robbie has had huge success everywhere else in the world except here in the U.S.  He has done Buble-esque swing music, sung (and rumored to have done more) with Nicole Kidman, and channels James Bond with haunting songs like ‘Millennium.’  In the video for ‘Rock DJ’ he rips his body apart like pieces of meat until there’s nothing but a skeleton left.  This song ‘Candy’ was his latest #1 in the U.K. (his seventh), but saw very little airplay in the States.  It has an unusual feel for Robbie, with lots of horns, maybe that’s what took it top 5 in Mexico.  The first time I danced to this one I was told to keep my feet on the ground because I was so excited to hear Robbie I was a little over-zealous.

2.  Little Mix ‘Wings’ – Judi must have been inspired by the title because this routine is full of elbows moves like wings flapping.  Radio Disney loved this British girl group and they had decent success at mainstream radio.  Get ready soccer moms, they are set to open up for One Direction’s tour so if you haven’t heard them you will soon.

3.  Olly Murs ‘Dance With Me Tonight’ – I just realized all three of these first picks are British.  Would you be surprised to know I love The Beatles?   This is just a great, timeless song that’s easy to dance to once you stop thinking so hard about the ‘back ball change’ and just feel it.  Olly made it big on the British version of The X-Factor with Simon Cowell, and even though he’s huge in Britain, he’s known best in the U.S. for his hit with Flo-Rida ‘Troublemaker’ which is also a Jazzercise routine.

4.  Bruno Mars ‘Runaway Baby’ – You’re probably thinking, how could you not hear a Bruno Mars song outside of Jazzercise?  Were you living under a rock?  Well, this one from ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’ only reached #50 on the Billboard chart.  But it is quite a catchy one to dance to – I have to remind myself not to get too excited and bust a hip when I hear this one.

5.  Joe Walsh ‘One Day At A Time’ – With a more subdued tempo, this song is for strength training we do with handheld weights.  It has a Traveling Wilburys feel to it, no wonder since Jeff Lynne (ELO) produced it and the album ‘Analog Man’ released in 2012.  The song is about Walsh’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction since 1995.  (If you want to see what life was like prior to 1995, see ‘The History of the Eagles’ an awesome rock n’ roll documentary.)  Good song but tough to find a place for it to be heard – since it’s adult rock done by a classic rocker.

6.  Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ – Happy is what I was today when I finally heard this song on the radio.  We’ve been dancing to this one for 6 months!  From ‘Despicable Me 2,’ it may be from a soundtrack, but this one isn’t a throw away.  It’s no secret Pharrell can put together a great tune but usually he’s doing it for another artist.  This catchy tune makes you smile and it helps that the routine has a lot of ‘pendulum’ moves that seem to come naturally once you’ve done it a few times.  Since the Grammys this song seems to be finally taking off, and I predict it will be one of the big songs of the Spring.  (And I love the guest cameos in the video!)

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Life Without Facebook: Day 6

I’m coming up on my first full week without Facebook.  I am grateful to have missed all the commentary and posts about the Grammys, which we managed to avoid this year.  In fact, I think I can do without seeing any of the award shows, since it’s no longer required for my employment and I get really tired of celebrities using it as a soapbox for political views.

I do enjoy reviewing the gowns from  the red carpet, and those are easy enough to find all over the internet the following day.  Speaking of, here’s a fairly hideous dress worn by Ashanti (Is she still alive?  Oh yeah, getting her mixed up with Aaliyah).  This dress looks like it’s from the Lingerie by Alien collection.  

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Here’s another dress code violation from the very talented Pharrell Williams, who looks like his dad’s mounty hat is too big for him.  No, it’s not a tribute to Smokey the Bear, but an homage to the classic rap song ‘Buffalo Gals’ by Malcom McLaren.  I don’t care how hot this trend gets, I’m not wearing one!  (Does this hat make my waist look smaller?)

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OK, so glad I got that out of my system.  I’m not going to rant about the spectacle of the big fat gay/straight wedding, Katy Perry’s demonic dance in a ring of fire, or Beyonce twerking with her husband.  I don’t have that urge anymore now that I’m not on Facebook.  A personal blog is really no place for that.

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Living Without Facebook: Day 4

So I made it through the weekend without breaking down and re-activating my Facebook account.  I have to admit that out of habit, while bored in line at the drug store, I clicked the FB app on my phone before I realized I had quit the habit 36 hours before.  I resisted, and didn’t log back in.

It’s strange how social media has trained us to think.  Now when I read e-mails, instead of wanting to craft a thoughtful response, I think where’s the ‘Like’ button?  (Or in some cases, where’s the ‘thumbs down’ button?)  Saturday was a beautiful, cool and sunny day, the kind we don’t get enough of in Houston.  Instead of bragging about it to my friends still freezing up north, I had to quietly soak it in and enjoy it without someone else acknowledging it with a thumbs up.  It was also our nephew’s birthday, and while I took photos of the cake and the festivities, I  had to keep them all to myself.  We even went to see a movie that night, and I actually had to talk about the movie with my husband instead of posting and waiting for comments.  So while I’ve quit Facebook to avoid all the braggadocious posts, it sounds like part of the reason I used the social network was to brag about some things myself.

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Meet Mr. Mistoffelees

Meet Mr. Mistoffelees

One of our three cats, this is the amazing Mr. M giving us ‘the gun show.’ With muscles like this, you gotta stretch now and then.

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The Life Without Facebook Experiment

After reading that teens are fleeing from Facebook in droves, I thought I might consider abandoning it myself.  Having undergone a major career change in the last two years, I sometimes find watching the ‘my life is so wonderful’ posts from my supposed Facebook friends irritating and sometimes dare I say ‘upsetting.’  Shame on me for letting it get to me, but I figure if Facebook is on its way out, why not try living without it and see how that feels?

Of course I know that once teens started seeing their grandparents as well as their parents on Facebook, any cool factor the social network once had was lost for them.  Only time will tell if this means the mass exodus of 18-29 year olds as well.

Of course I’ve invested so much (uploading photos, sucking up to potentially career-advancing Facebook friends) I didn’t have the guts to do the total ‘delete’ on my account.  Instead I ‘deactivated’ the account and all I have to do is log back in to get the madness up and running again.  Facebook even begged me to stay, by posting various friends I’ve interacted with and saying ‘John will miss you!’ by their profile photos.  Nice try Facebook.  I’m thinking that instead of liking and commenting and REacting to the ‘news’ feed on FB, I’m going to start bringing up topics on my own terms, without fear of being judged or labeled by any one group of my friends who may find my politics or opinions contradictory to their own.  Of course I know if I’m really ‘blogging’ I open myself up to criticism or comments but if you don’t like me you don’t have to read it.

Well, just 16 hours without Facebook and I already feel better.

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