Why More Americans Don’t Follow Politics

Causes Of Stress

Maybe it’s because political news stresses them out:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released a wide-ranging survey on the prevalence and causes of stress in the U.S. Overall, 86 percent of Americans say they’ve been stressed out in the past month, with 26 percent saying they’ve experienced a great deal of stress. When it comes to major stressful life events, health-related issues top the list: More than 4 in 10 respondents who said they experienced a major stressful event in the past year cited health concerns as the primary stressor. But the survey also asked about smaller, daily stressors — the little exasperations that can add up to a miserable day. And here something surprising emerges: Americans cited “hearing about what the government or politicians are doing” as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.

I get it. In a polarized, emotionally fraught polity, the news is almost always stressing you out. The digital media revolution has also meant countless new outlets trying to get market share by revving up one side or the other. For my part, absorbing all the news every day, and being in the arena of opinion from dawn to dusk, week after week, I can only say I am utterly unsurprised. There’s a reason David Brooks just writes chin-strokers and sociology these days: you try being him at the NYT. My response is to try and compartmentalize it so I don’t get completely stressed out, or upset, or just exhausted by the noise. You want to know why I insist on getting to Ptown every summer and not leaving? It’s the yin to the yang of the arena. Without it, I’ve only got the hubby, the hounds, and Angry Birds.

Meanwhile, Drum wants more details from the study:

[B]oy howdy, does this beg for a follow-up. I really, really want to know what news sources cause the most stress. Is it listening to NPR? Watching Fox News? Getting your daily Limbaugh fix? Reading Kevin Drum’s blog? Perhaps the mere act of making you think about this is, at this very moment, making you red in the face. Then again, maybe not. I want to know more. Who’s most stressed out by the news? Liberals? Conservatives? Everyone? And what outlets cause the most stress? Obviously my money is on the Drudge/Fox/Limbaugh axis, but maybe I’d be surprised.