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Tim Kreider’s ‘The Busy Trap’

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Tim Kreider’s ‘The Busy Trap,’ is an expository essay in which Kreider speaks out about the world’s endless obsession with unnecessary or daunting tasks. The article manages to paint a picture of what society views as ‘busy’ along with the negative impact has on one’s mental health. Kreider states that society sees being busy as a means of seeming accomplished and productive. In today’s society, being bogged down and having virtually no free time is deemed “good.” It’s the rest of the world who are deemed “unimportant” in comparison to these overdriven, anxious individuals. Kreider not only targets adults who have fallen victim to the increase in the busy lifestyle but children as well who have taken on more than their little minds can wrap itself around. Today’s children are bombarded with many activities; from soccer practice to classical music lessons. Children are lacking free time. There’s nothing for them apart from getting an early start on solidifying a concrete future.

But what can be said apart from the fact that this is what society has begun to drill into their little minds. Like Kreider insists, business is greatness. However, in all truths what are children really learning when they are loaded with too many activities that has their minds swirling apart from the very definitions of such words as exhausted, tired and drained? Kreider takes a moment to reflect on his own childhood in which he did nothing more than spend (or to those obsessed with being busy) waste his time doing silly unconstructive things. Things such as making animated films, getting together with friends, surfing the Word Book Encyclopedia – being a child. To Kreider, these things made up the best years of his life. These things moulded him into the person he would forever remain – they provided him with valuable skills. Unlike the people of today who know absolutely nothing more than work, work and more work. Kreider makes sure that his reader gets the idea into his/her head of just what being “busy” entails. A person who deems themselves as such isn’t someone who’s commuting by bus to three or more minimum wage jobs.

Oh no. A “busy” person, is someone who willing – voluntarily loads themselves with so many things that scheduling a drink with a good buddy becomes nearly impossible. These people, have made a choice to become busy. They are so afraid and filled with guilt at the mere aspect of not having something to keep themselves occupied that they would rather miss out on their lives instead of not having something to keep them occupied. The problem here isn’t that working is a crime. No, the problem here is that these “busy” individuals have a phobia of being idle. But what’s wrong with having a little down time? Even Kreider admits to having more of it than anything else. Why do people want to be so irritable? So utterly and completely cranky. Anxiety and depression are not traits one should consider attractive when looking for a mate. Just ask Kreider’s friend who learned that hard way. Idleness, from Kreider’s point of view is something he sees as “indispensable” as Vitamin D is to the brain. Simply put, we all need a little “me” time. A little time to just sit back and take a long breather. To get away from the hectic lives that define who we are and if you’re anything like Kreider then you can still be ambitious with a little hint of laziness thrown in there for good measure!

However, not everyone feels this way. Throughout the article, Kreider constantly hits home by stressing how people feels as if they aren’t busy then there’s nothing worth living for. They’ve become too wrapped up in the chaos of their lives that there’s little to no time for anything else. They claim to be tired. They claim to be exhausted but isn’t this nothing but a cover up for all the irrelevant things that is going on in their lives? What could possibly be so important that one has to pencil in lunch dates with their pals? What could possibly be so important that one throws away their entire life just to work? Has the world forgotten that working is something God made as a punishment? It shouldn’t be viewed as the greatest thing human kind has ever done! Kreider gives his own personal example, choosing to explain his experience with becoming a busy body. He expresses his feelings – the anxiety, the inability to take the pressure. He did not like feeling that way. He did not like knowing that he had no stake in his own life.

He’d lost control and to what? Busyness. For Kreider, it felt like that mat had been pulled right out from beneath him. He’d lost control of his life and had winded up overworked, stressed out and unable to handle the rising pressure; resulting in a complete meltdown. To him, no one should want this kind of life. No one should want to flee from their lives when things get too crazy as he himself learned. But it seems no one is listening. Instead of being assaulted by these “obligations,” Kreider sees a way out. He sees the need to take a break as something urgent. He encourages idleness. He wants the world to take a moment and walk away from the stresses of life. In the article, Kreider cites people such as Arthur C. Clarke and Thomas Pynchon as primary examples of some of the greatest people ever who didn’t let this need to be occupied stop them from living their dreams. Through idleness, Kreider sees that dreams can exists. In it we can learn who we are, what we wish to come and take the steps we need to in order to have a better tomorrow. In the end, to Kreider the ideal human life resides somewhere between his own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s frenetic hustle.

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