No, it's not your imagination, politics is making us sick

Friday, September 27, 2019

The annual Heritage Days parade usually includes a few political candidates during an election year, and that’s a good thing.

There’s nothing like shaking hands with a political hopeful, looking them in the eye and chatting about an issue that’s important to you.

But when it comes to national politics, it may be a good idea to change the subject.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have concluded that 24-hour news cycles, social media and never-ending campaigns are giving us more than a figurative headache.

We’re making ourselves physically sick, according to the study, published Sept. 25 in PLOS One by Nebraska political scientist Kevin Smith.

Data collected from 800 respondents by YouGov for five days in March 2017 found that 20% had damaged friendships over political disagreements, and a similar number reported fatigue and 4% even said they had suicidal thoughts.

Using diagnostic questions modeled after those used by Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, the 32-question survey delved into physical and mental health, regretted behavior and social/lifestyle costs.

Other results included 11.5% saying politics had adversely affected their physical health, 31.8% said exposure to media outlets promoting views contrary to personal beliefs had driven them crazy, 39.3% said they’d lost their temper as a result of politics and 22.1% admitted they cared too much about who wins and who loses.

Note that the survey was in March 2017 — the numbers would probably be much higher were the same study conducted today.

They say all politics is local, and in a way, they’re right. But for the sake of an enjoyable weekend, let’s talk about something else this Heritage Days.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: