Jackie Smith and Joyce Dalsheim in AlterNet:
There never seems to be enough time to accomplish all the things we must do. Life gets busier and busier. But what does all that busy-ness add to our lives? Mainstream culture tells us that being busy is a virtue, so we want to be busy even if we complain about it. It means we’re productive and have purpose. Ideas like “time is money” and “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” have helped to define our culture. Both ideas work in concert with the global capitalist economy, which depends on keeping us busy in order to increase productivity, expand markets, and encourage hyper-consumption. Busy-ness also helps to keep us from questioning the assumptions and values that drive busy-ness itself. Busy-ness is part of a broader set of structures that limit our choices and our ability to feel satisfied. What we call the “hegemony of busy-ness” refers two interrelated processes. First, busyness is a powerful cultural pressure. Second, and more importantly, this busy-ness perpetuates the social system that makes the rich richer and creates more and more economically vulnerable people. We are impelled to do more and to want to do more, but busy-ness limits our ability to improve our overall happiness, promote greater equity, or save our endangered planet.
Our global economic and political order fuels a state of constant activity, and busy-ness harms both individual and community well-being. There’s so much information thrown at us, we just don’t know where to start. Time poverty limits our ability to talk with neighbors and nurture communities. If time is money for some, it is also what gives meaning to our lives. Busy-ness disconnects us from our social habitats by preoccupying us with endless tasks and often meaningless information.
The upshot is that busy-ness undermines our physical and mental health as well as our ability to think and learn. Modern society has transformed homo sapiens into what former technology professional and Consciously Digital founder Anastasia Dedyukhina calls homo distractus -people who are continuously inundated with information and perpetually distracted.