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Americans Agree: We Need a Break From the News
10.17.2018

Amid what can seem like a never-ending cycle of bad news, Americans agree—it might be time for a break. A recent survey from PRRI and The Atlantic finds that despite Americans taking partisan stances on many issues, they are united in their need for less news. Seventy-two percent of Americans say they feel like they need a break from the news. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans, who elected a president who can create a news-cycle with a single tweet, feel that they need to take a step back. That view is shared by Democrats, with 70 percent saying they should take a break. Among the most likely people to say they need a break from the news are white women. Eighty percent of white women need a break, compared to 68 percent of white men.

According to Mary E. McNaughton-Cassill, PhD, so much negative news can have an impact on the human brain. “Psychological research suggests that the brain is also predisposed to attend to negative information,” Dr. Cassill wrote in 2017. “When media content makes us feel angry, scared or sad, we orient toward the disturbing story to make sure we know how to protect ourselves. (It’s that fight-or-flight response again.) The problem occurs when the threat is far removed from us, amplified by the media and out of our control, all of which can make us feel helpless or hopeless.”

Those who need to take a break may need to schedule one soon—the November midterm elections are less than a month away.