Political time out: Why are politics getting so personal?

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Exhausting, stressful, depressing. They are all adjectives being used to describe the current political environment and the spillover of tension into our personal lives. (WPVI)

Exhausting, stressful, depressing. They are all adjectives being used to describe the current political environment and the spillover of tension into our personal lives. While social media and 24/7 coverage of this divisive time seems inescapable - experts are urging us all to take a political time out.

"I unfriended everyone on Facebook that was pro-Hillary for the simple reason that those people couldn't possible share my core values," said Robert Scherbik of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.

Scherbik even ended a 45-year friendship with the godfather of his son.

Tom Lukowicz says it started over a Facebook post that was intended to be a joke. He sent us cell video from his home in Jersey City explaining the fallout.

"He pretty much said I can no longer be friends with you. You're unAmerican. You're a liberal," said Lukowicz.

The two haven't spoken since President Trump's inauguration.

"We always said regardless of our political views, we'll be friends forever and I honestly thought that. It made me sad. I actually, I teared up a little bit," said Lukowicz.

That's not where it ended. When Robert's sister Cathy said she wasn't sure she was voting for Trump, she received a disturbing text from her brother, who she never has gone more than a day without talking to.

"He said that's all I need to know, forget you ever knew me, delete me. You and Maria are not welcome in my home," said Cathy Scherbik of Hamilton, New Jersey.

Sadly, this is a common scenario being played out across the country - family, friendships, even marriages being severed due to a hardening and widening of ideological positions. A recent Reuters poll found among respondents, 13 percent ended a family or friend relationship over the election.

"I was hoping that once the election was over people would be kinder and gentler to each other, but it doesn't seem to be happening," said Esther Kaplin, psychotherapist. "I think that people are still fighting and I think half of them don't know what they are fighting about."

Kaplin says she's seen a dramatic increase in patients who feel stress because of political differences with loved ones. She believes feelings about the election and heated debate over President Trump and his policies have brought problems between people to the surface they were previously unaware of.

"People got to learn another side of who they were with and not necessarily liking what they saw," said Kaplin.

Kaplin says while there are stimuli all around us, it is important to find balance. Find interests outside politics. Take some quiet time away from social media and the television. Instead of engaging in a political discussion with people you care about, focus on talking about each other and activities you can enjoy and interests you have in common. Finally, listen to one another and respect opinions different than your own.

"I think the issue at hand, at least between my brother and I, is the right to have different opinions," said Cathy Scherbik.

After we interviewed Tom and Robert, they both agreed a political disagreement wasn't worth their friendship. Action News has learned the two have connected via text message and have plans to mend fences.

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