Americans across the nation have been glued to their TV, hoping to find comfort in news updates, obsessing over every detail of a press conference, and becoming more anxiety-ridden every day.
It’s a stressful time to be alive. In a year that already held a lot of tension for the American public due to a rather divisive impending presidential election, 2020 has given us much more to worry about than an election. The coronavirus’ grip on our lives has yet to loosen. We’re all worried to see the numbers in our savings account dwindling, wonder when we’ll see our loved ones again, and can only hope we’ll still have a job by the end of this.
As we search for answers, we find ourselves tuning in to our local news channels far more often than we used to, allowing the angry voices of political pundits to become the background noise of our everyday life. We bombard ourselves with the media’s opposing views, petty spats between elected officials, and the ever-constant battle between those sensationalizing and those downplaying the severity of coronavirus. And the worst part is, everyone thinks they’re completely in the right.
I can’t help but wonder: what is our constant consumption of the news doing to our health?
What Watching Too Much News Does to Us
It’s essential that we stay informed about our country’s rapidly changing circumstances — that’s not up for debate. However, there comes a point where we absolutely must, for our own health, turn off the news. Not only have studies shown a sharp increase in anxiety and overall sadness in those who obsessively watch the news, but it can actually negatively affect your physical health, raising your blood pressure and triggering the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, and can even cause us to develop PTSD.
Studies have shown a sharp increase in anxiety and overall sadness in those who obsessively watch the news.
It’s safe to say the nonstop barrage of scaremongering news is horribly detrimental to us — a virus in itself — but it seems to me that our tribalistic approach to politics only further reinforces our media’s aggressively partisan take on the nation’s current happenings. In other words, the media is just giving us what we’ve made clear is the most important thing to us.
We’re Way Too Obsessed with Politics
We look to politics to make sense of our chaotic world, to find a tribe to call home. But the hard and uncomfortable truth is that there’s very little our consistent digestion of political debate will accomplish or add to our lives.
During a time when so many of us are already remarkably lonely due to social distancing, our stubborn obsession with politics only continues to get in the way. I know far too many people who are unable to hold a conversation that doesn’t end up drifting into horribly divisive political territory instead of attempting to find common ground — and it’s only getting worse.
The hard and uncomfortable truth is that there’s very little our consistent digestion of political debate will accomplish or add to our lives.
We’ve come to a point where many of us find it impossible to stay in contact with family members or lifelong friends whose political leanings don’t align with our own because politics is all we know how to talk about these days.
Closing Thoughts: There’s More to Life Than Politics
Devouring hours of the viciously biased news cycle only hurts us. And this time of uncertainty, worry, and unrest can only be soothed by switching off the TV and forgetting about our political division for a while. Find new recipes to try, read that book you’ve had on your reading list for a year, or discover a new musical artist you love.
Make a connection with someone that doesn’t rely on similar political beliefs.
Call your mom/sibling/uncle/grandparent/childhood friend that you’ve struggled to see eye to eye with, and rather than discussing any sort of political happenings, ask them how they’ve been spending their days; make a connection with someone that doesn’t rely on similar political beliefs. I promise, you’ll find yourself much happier.