I'm Busy, You're Busy, We're All So Fricking BusyS

I tell you what, working full-time at Kotaku is one mother-effin busy job. I'm busier than I've ever been. When people ask me how I am, I always say "Good! Busy. But good!"

This article at the New York Times comes directly at the idea of being "too busy." We say we're busy for a lot of complicated reasons, but maybe this vain, self-satisfied busyness we're always promoting is bullshit?

Author Tim Kreider recounts how a friend of his became depressed not because of her personality, but because of her environment. "It's not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school - it's something we collectively force one another to do."

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn't allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d'être was obviated when "menu" buttons appeared on remotes, so it's hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn't performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I'm not sure I believe it's necessary. I can't help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn't a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn't matter.

I hear what Kreider is saying, and when he recounts his own lacidaisical but productive existence I remember when I was teaching part-time and enjoyed a similar lifestyle. I may do that again some day, but for now, I feel like I need to be doing the amount of work I am. And I don't even have a family to support, which brings a whole other wrinkle to the question of the luxury of busyness/non-busyness.

What do you think? Do you constantly tell people that you're busy? Has busyness become an inextricable part of your life, your identity? Do you find that you're happier when you're not busy, or happier when you are?

Okay I gotta run, gotta write like six more articles. Lordy, I'm just so busy.

The 'Busy' Trap [NYTimes]