I think the reason we are hearing conflicting reports is not only because we have become so divided - Covid was not that bad vs. Covid was much worse than you are acknowledging, but because that fed into a polarising tendency to exaggerate in the direction we like.
I believe we are now talking about two separate things and as I expect no help from the culture in differentiating those in clear language, I suggest we do it ourselves.
Anytime you get a virus, there is a danger of long-term, very bad effects. These are usually rare, but they are well-documented for decades and quite real. It varies from virus to virus. OTOH, bsking sent me a study which defined Long Covid by a standard of any of 32 symptoms still present after 28 days. That is real, but I think we have to call that a low bar. I don't think we close cities over that. I am wondering about that for myself, back-and-forth. I will not belabor my own medical history, but I am older (1953) and fat (less fat than I was) and qualify for metabolic syndrome. So even before covid, I could be expecting gradual deterioration offset by more exercise in retirement, perhaps punctuated by steps downward after any illness. So anything I observe about myself after covid carries a question mark.
As there seems to be a run on people who are claiming serious post-covid symptoms, more than one might expect, I am conscious of the question mark. Yet I do detect a difference this year from last year, even months after covid (Oct-Nov). What does it mean? My blood pressure went up but is medication-controlled - with an increase since covid. My blood sugars remain well-controlled, but I wonder about circulatory issues and oxygen-exchange issues. I was actually hoping to have my "mild COPD" diagnosis dropped after testing this summer, a decade after quitting smoking. I am no longer confident of this. Throughout the winter I thought I tired more easily and was more bothered by cold. There is more, but i shan't bore you. Small stuff, yet I think real.
I think this is exactly what a lot of people are going to be wondering after having had covid. Some will strive to make their symptoms appear worse (even to themselves), others will attempt to deny real symptoms, but most will be in between, wondering. My own prediction is that cardiovascular long-term effects will be more than expected, and neurological effects will be real but subtle and detectable mostly in aggregate. Pray that there are no chronic effects for children with mild cases.
We hate wondering and leap to conclusions, and unfortunately these will be influenced by our political and cultural beliefs, plus the (likely small) disease worry and disease denial* we had preloaded before 2020. It is unfortunately likely that most of us will never know whether our particular mild symptoms were from covid or from getting older and fatter. Sussing out the reality will involve looking at large numbers of people and seeing whether there is an increase over what would have been expected if covid had been contained in China to the index case, sent to a mountain with food airdropped in for him.
The best I can say WRT to actually understanding what is up versus being able to win arguments is to regard Long Covid as two different things. Eventually it will likely be considered a continuum, but we hate those. For now, divide it into two and try to keep your head above water.