How packed is your schedule today? We asked our listeners: "Do you think we've become too busy as a society?" Quite a few people responded, pretty much all saying yes.
Ally Bishop, from Easton, Pennsylvania, said, “I am insanely busy with work and volunteer commitments. I realized recently that it has to stop as it is taking a toll on my health. But how do you stop doing what society propels you to do? It will take much backbone to start saying no, even to the good opportunities and needs I'm asked to participate in.”
Tim Kreider is an author and cartoonist whose recent New York Times Opinionator article “The Busy Trap” has sparked this debate. He believes that the people who complain about being busy are not the ones who are straining their schedules out of necessity; rather, they are filling their lives up voluntarily. The author wonders what they might be trying to cover up.
"It's as if there's something we're trying to drown out with all this noise and frenetic activity," Kreider says. "I don't know if there's a name for what that thing is, but maybe we're all frightened of it. It might also be important. I worry that life has gotten so fast and busy that we have never paused to think about what it might be for."
From the sound of it, Bishop's life is all noise and frenetic activity. Even when she meditates, there is music playing, and even when she turns off the radio in the car, she is still on the way to some errand, commitment, or obligation. "My downtime is Saturday, and then it's usually downtime in the sense of running errands, picking things up, going to dinner, watching a movie, trying to actually spend time with my partner, and doing the things that you should be doing," Bishop says.
Kreider addresses this same idea of structured, planned downtime in his article, recalling that his requests to friends to hang out are met with hasty attempts to schedule in a bit of fun. "All other things being equal, I would genuinely rather be goofing off with my friends, and I don't get a chance to do that anymore, because everyone's so busy."