The New York Times over the last few months has run a number of articles on one theme: the unprecedented busyness of our lives. But this busyness, apparently, does not affect us all equally. The Times has focused on privileged college students looking to make it in the professional world by cramming their resume with internship and leadership experiences, and the even more harried individuals they will become once ensconced in that world. "The Lost Summer" (June 4) considers the former, while Sunday's "Pencil It In Under 'Not Happening'" documents the latter, the euphoria felt by the overscheduled, harried professional class when someone calls to cancel - er, "reschedule" - a social obligation.
I've said this to the Pied before, I think "busyness" is a real phenomenon that is worth studying (and is being studied by social scientists and social theorists), and that it has much to do with new technologies (cell phones, email, Internets, etc.) that have profoundly changed the way humans relate to each other nowadays.
However, I have become increasingly skeptical of the idea that such busyness is a new and interesting characteristic only of elite, political, juridical, medical and otherwise professional and highly-educated classes. The phenomenon seems to afflict most ordinary citizens: we're all "busy," if not with doing, at least with thinking and planning. Or rather, we have become accustomed to think that we ourselves and everyone else is so busy and the NYT has been reinforcing this view.
Why are we so busy? For what purpose? Is it worth it?