Election stress via social media ruining friendships, tearing families apart

FOX 32 NEWS - Wednesday night was the final debate before the November election.

But the name calling and mudslinging from the presidential campaign has had a trickledown effect that's been taken to social media.

FOX 32's Sylvia Perez takes a look at the unhealthy source of stress that is breaking down friendships and tearing some families apart.

Ask anyone and they'll tell you the November election can't come soon enough.

"There's been a lot of hatred,” Cassandra Garcia said.

Garcia has recently decided to back away from social media and is starting to question if some of her friends really are her friends.

"When it comes to Facebook, I completely have vowed not to post anything because with friends and family I've had to distance myself from, it's just better to say nothing at this point to keep the peace,” Garcia said.

And Cassandra is not alone. A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association finds 52% of Americans say the election is a source of stress, and exposure to social media is a big factor.

"Social media was geared toward bringing people together and now it's almost breaking people up,” said Erick Elk.

Elk is a political strategist who's done polling for some time. He blames the presidential candidates for fueling the hatred that’s spreading to Facebook and Twitter

"You are seeing a breakdown of civility and I think it's a grotesque display of civics,” he said.

Elk says he's even experienced it firsthand.

"I think it's breaking up families, families are having major fights, even with my own father,” Elk said.

Dr. Robert Schulman is with Rush University Medical Center.

"Social media and the expressing of one's belief in 140-charaters or less has lost sight on a very important social phenomena that really is core to our social discourse and that is the notion of empathy,” Dr. Schulman said.

Dr. Schulman says without having a face to face discussion, people can't be empathetic and with that often comes a lack of respect for what others believe.

So, what's a stressed out social media user to do?

"My best advice is to not engage to not take a stand to not go out there and put oneself out ther to be open to attack,” Dr. Schulman said.

The election is just a few short weeks away. The American Psychological Association says if your stressed, take a digital break. And finally, don't forget to vote, that should help you feel as if you're making a difference.