It’s quiet afternoon, and I’m lounging on my couch watching the new Seth Meyers comedy special, “Lobby Baby.” I laugh, enjoying a brief period of relaxation before digging into tonight’s homework. Meyers covers a range of topics: family, religion, kids, and as he segways into politics, he introduces the idea of the “skip politics” button.
Similar to the “skip intro” button that you can press so you don’t have to watch the “Friends” theme song for the millionth time, this button allows viewers on Netflix to skip an entire section of the special in which Meyers discusses politics.
The introduction of this new feature highlights the idea of being able to consciously avoid politics in our everyday lives. The idea of not paying attention to the news, not voting and maybe even openly affirming that you do not care about politics. “Skipping politics” is not just a button on Netflix that one can use to skip some Trump jokes, but rather an active choice that people make to ignore what is happening in our government.
There are multiple factors to why some feel the need to tune out politics from their lives; one is mainly the current political landscape. Whether it be the drama of the current administration, or the deep party polarization in Congress, the state of our country can leave some feeling down.
According to a 2018 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute , 69 percent of Americans report that when they think about what is going on in their country, they feel a negative emotion. Twenty-nine percent feel sad, 20 percent feel angry and another 20 percent feel fearful.
When just thinking about the state of our country can be enough to bring out these negative emotions, it is not inconceivable that some would not want to be immersed in depressing headlines or constant breaking news.
Along with being depressed, many Americans believe that the news itself is exhausting. A 2018 survey by Pew Research Center reports that 68 percent of Americans are exhausted by the news.
The data show that a majority of Americans are depressed by politics and worn out by the news, so it is not shocking that some are choosing not to pay attention to politics in the news.
However, “skipping politics” is not just about keeping CNN turned off or reading every Apple News alert on our phone. This trend of excluding politics in one’s life can also have major implications on the civic and political participation that our democracy depends on.
According to a 2018 survey from PRRI, 45 percent of Americans reported not being civically or politically engaged at all.
Netflix’s introduction of the “skipping politics” button may have made life easier for those who don’t enjoy political jokes, but it says a lot more about a growing trend in society. The trend of being so exhausted and depressed by our government that causes people to choose to shut it out entirely, and even ignore our civic duty because of it.