I get, and have always gotten, horrible secondhand embarrassment from watching politicians (most ppl live, really). Any suggestions on what to read or follow to mitigate the fact that I'm essentially cutting myself off from that vital primary source?
And it’s not just you, I’m kind of that way myself, although not to the same degree. I just read a great article about Jeb Bush that really goes into detail on secondhand embarrassment….
Most everyone feels, to some degree, embarrassment on behalf of someone else’s pratfall or screwup, but research has suggested that people vary in the degree to which they experience secondhand embarrassment. If some of Bush’s most painfully awkward moments have been hard for you to watch — or, for that matter, if you can’t bear the American Idol auditions, or if you’ve never been able to make it through an entire episode of the British version of The Office — it likely means that you number among the easily empathetically embarrassed. As psychology writer Oliver Burkeman phrased it in a 2014 piece for The Guardian, this suggests you have a “generally high capacity for involvement in the emotional lives of others.” It means you’re skilled at taking the perspective of others, in other words: You see someone else making a fool of himself and you feel it, as if it were happening to you.
And there’s a reason, incidentally, that we call these moments painfully awkward: The neural pathways that are activated when viewing another person’s social pain are the very same ones that are active when you watch someone withstand physical pain. The German researchers of the 2011 PLOS ONE study that discovered this, by the way, came about their findings by making their study participants watch other people do fun things like wearing a shirt emblazoned with the phrase “I Am Sexy.”
I also think this is why Obama does so well: he’s cultivated a unique aura of unembarrassability (I’m sure the Germans have a better word for it).
My suggestion is that you don’t need to watch all these speeches and debates to follow the race. Most speeches are full of bullshit anyway. So you can just follow summaries. Podcasts are also great, here are some ones I listen to sometimes: