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The Algorithms Are Trolling Us

Naomi Judd and mental health, Trevor Noah, Cow Burps, Elbow, and Billie Eilish's Mushroom Nike drop.

"The first step is to realize that it all begins with you and me." – The Judds

IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS or simply don't know who to turn to, text “MHA” to 741741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a trained crisis counselor 24/7, 365 days a year. Spanish speakers: 1-888-628-9454. Deaf & hard of hearing: TTY users, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255


Naomi Judd's death and women's mental health

As a teen, I watched The Judds perform at our local auditorium. Mama Naomi and daughter Wynonna brought harmony back to the charts in the mid-1980s before Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt formed their blockbuster Trio. Although there was plenty of big hair onstage in those days, it felt like a turning point in country music, a time when women might be respected for their voices rather than their potential for industry sexualization and exploitation. Over the decades, that proved not to be the case. The Judds quickly became stars but had a more difficult road than many of their country music peers. (Read more about the Judds' career here and pre-order Marissa Moss's new book, Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be, to learn more about the women of country music in the 21st century.)

Now, the tragic death of 76-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame recipient Naomi Judd on Saturday has sparked a new conversation about the mental health of older women. Naomi and her daughters have been vocal about their struggles with mental health over the years, including Wynonna's problems during menopause and actress Ashley's 2006 stay at the Shades of Hope treatment center as detailed in her 2012 memoir. Yet, America's double pandemic of COVID-19 and widespread isolation, depression, and anxiety have contributed to deaths like Naomi's. Older women have suffered during the pandemic, with Harvard stating "the cost of distancing may outweigh benefits for healthy adults." Social isolation is especially difficult for women above age 70 who spent their formative years without pervasive technology at home, school, or in civic use. The National Institute of Mental Illness reports 21.0% of all U.S. adults to have some form of mental illness. (When combined with concomitant issues such as alcoholism, this number is as high as 40%). The prevalence of mental illness is higher among females (25.8%) than males (15.8%).

Check-in on your loved ones! We must do everything we can to help people of all ages cope with the current mental health crisis.

Sending healing and strength to Wynonna and Ashley and their family.

This video of The Judds three weeks ago in Nashville at the CMT Music Awards was meant as a reunion and preview of a planned 2022 tour. Naomi Judd co-wrote Love Can Build a Bridge with John Paul Jarvis and Paul Overstreet. The 1990 song was re-recorded in 1995 by Cher, Chrissie Hynde, and Neneh Cherry for War Child and used in a 1997 Comic Relief campaign.


The algorithms are trolling us. Don't let them interfere with your well-being.

A barrage of online and mobile ads about depression, anxiety, weight loss, beauty products, fitness regimes, and finances are adding layers of stress to women's lives. And while some of the products and apps they tout may be beneficial, the ads themselves are contributing to a decline in happiness... especially for Gen-X women and women of color.

I gained a few pounds over the pandemic and recently Googled my BMI, which was in the "normal" range. In an era of body positivity where stars such as Chrissy Metz and Lizzo are two of America's most popular celebrities, I was surprised when the ads on my Instagram suddenly changed from the latest fashions to ads about obesity. This type of predatory advertising (see screenshots below) is designed to make us feel bad about ourselves—even at a doctor-recommended weight—so that we will sign up for their apps. Instead, we must not let them interfere with our well-being.

There are many steps we can take with our privacy, including blocking certain ads, adding VPNs, and performing a "tech cleanup." We can also focus on offline activities like scheduling social media and screen breaks and making efforts to add face-to-face meet-ups with friends onto our calendars. Walking in nature, playing with pets, eating nutritious foods, and getting plenty of sleep are recommended for improved health. I will make an effort to employ more of these strategies going forward. Every little bit counts. [Sign up for my newsletter to keep in touch.]


The best of the week: Trevor Noah, Cow Burps, Elbow, and Billie Eilish's Mushroom Nike drop.

My husband and I enjoyed a much-needed visit from our college daughter and my parents this week. Grateful for the time we had together. I also attended a play with my aunt in a small town outside Atlanta and saw OMD at the Buckhead Theatre with a friend. We had fun revisiting "Enola Gay," "Secret," "Dreaming" and "If You Leave," among other hits. Returning to live events is part of my plan to find more happiness. I'm continuing to wear a KN95 mask in crowded indoor situations. I sat out this weekend's Shaky Knees and Sweetwater 420 fests due to other commitments, but highly recommend checking out live music again!

In other updates...

Wishing you a peaceful, productive week!


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