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Many 'Worn Out' By Campaign, Survey Of Social Media Users Shows

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In case you needed more evidence of the toll this divisive campaign is taking on America, a new survey says more than a third of social media users are "worn out" by the amount of political content they encounter. That's nearly twice as many who say they welcome the political content they find on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The survey of more than 4500 adults was done by the Pew Research Center. It found that 37% of social media users report being worn out, compared to the 20% who say they like seeing lots of seeing lots of political information.

59%, meanwhile, describe their online interactions with people they disagree with as "stressful and frustrating," and 64% say their online encounters with those they disagree with leave them feeling "as if they have less in common than they thought."

If you find the tone of political discourse on social media troubling, well, you're not alone. 40% of social media users strongly agree that that social media platforms are places where people say things they would never say in person; 49% say the conversations on social media are angrier, 53% say they are less respectful and 49% say they are less civil then their conversations in other parts of their lives.

In perhaps the least surprising finding, the survey reports the vast majority of Americans — 83% — try to avoid posts from friends they disagree with politically, and 39% say they've gone so far as to block or unfriend someone, or changed their settings in order to avoid another's political views.

One bit of good news: as polarized as the country is, the sense of being worn out is not a partisan phenomenon. 38% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans describe themselves that way.

So maybe there is more common ground than it appears.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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