As the U.S. presidential election reaches a critical phase, more than half of Americans are saying that the campaign is a very significant source of stress. The election related stress also seems to affect various generations of Americans differently, including those who consume news via social media versus those who use traditional mainstream media. The US Election is a battle between social media and mainstream media.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has made available specific data related to stress levels associated with the presidential election. According to the APA, social media appears to affect Americans’ stress levels when it comes to the election and related topics. More than one in four adults (38 percent) say that political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress. Additionally, adults who use social media are more likely than adults who do not use social media to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress (54 percent vs. 45 percent, respectively).
With mainstream media focusing on the Donald Trump “groping allegations” and social media focusing on the Wikileaks “Crooked Hillary” coverage, significant cognitive bias is being amplified and accelerated.
Google Trends indicate that U.S. and worldwide Google searches for “Wikileaks and Clinton” far exceed those for “Trump Sexual Allegations”.
But mainstream media continues to focus on the Trump allegations and has very little coverage of the Clinton Wikileaks disclosures.
Trump and Clinton are both suffering from huge reputational damage that may well poison the eventual winners presidency. US electors are also suffering from cognitive dissonance and stress as a result of the schizophrenic news coverage.
While around half of adults, regardless of generation, report that the election is a very significant source of stress, youngest and oldest generations appear more likely to be affected, with 56 percent of Millennials (ages 19 to 37) and 59 percent of Matures (ages 71+) saying the election is a very significant source of stress. This is significantly more than the 45 percent of Gen Xers (ages 38 to 51), and directionally more so than the 50 percent of Boomers (ages 52 to 70).
It is likely that the battle between social media and mainstream media will get even more brutal in the weeks leading up to the election on November 8th. On the morning of November 9th, Americans may wake up divided and traumatised realising that no one has won.