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

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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!"

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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]

DISCUSSION

By
Rathorial

I feel like I'm in the opposite situation right now of this article. I have all the free time in the world as I'm still trying to find a full-time job to get me out of my state, and start my career. I have some occasional part-time work where I can get it, but I find the lack of scheduled work to fill up at least half of my time throughout the week, making me lazy...and I mean lazy in the bad not fun way.

Good lazy is when you just blow things off, and do activities you like for fun, or chill with friends. Trouble is that since I've had so much free time in the last month, it doesn't feel special to me anymore. It's just another day that I got to go play video games, or hang out with people...and I find myself not even doing that. I've spent more time in the last week looking up apartments for a job I'm not guaranteed to get, than actually doing anything fun with my free time. The part I do relate with is I'm looking up apartments to make myself feel busy, to make myself feel like I'm being productive with my time instead of it just being empty.

Ironically, I have a large backlog of games that I could probably take out with my time now, but I feel that I'll blow through them faster when I have less actual free time. When free time is actually uncommon, it become something I want to use on just my favorite activities more efficiently...but now I feel guilty whenever I use my free time not doing something productive. The only sad part is that as an artist, it's effecting my creativity too. My environment is rather boring and annoying right now, and I don't feel inspired to create anything worthwhile, or practice the way I should to get the job that will take me away from this.