On busyness and awareness

Are we really that busy or do we fool ourselves into believing that we are?

The majority of people in this world would find it fascinating (and disturbing) when they’d finally find out why they do what they do in life.

Why the hell did I end up in this profession?/ being Christian (Jew/ Muslim, etc.)?/ living in this city?/ working for this company?/ having two kids?/ living in this apartment?/ sending my kids to this school?/ voting for this candidate?

But most people will never find out.

Why? Because they don’t have time. They are all busy people.

They are busy pursuing the careers someone told them to pursue because it is prestigious and brings good money.

They are busy sitting in churches or congregations only because their parents and grandparents drag them to those churches since they were newborns.

They are busy socialising and doing what other people in their social circles expect from them, because they want to fit in.

They are busy fighting other people, plotting and gossiping, because that’s what the people whom they grew up with did.

At the work they don’t even like they’re so busy that they can’t even go to the toilet. And when they’re back at their homes they’re busy watching news because, as someone once told them, it’s essential that they know everything that is happening in the world around them.

So they watch. And since they watch news they discover all sorts of other content that ‘you simply can’t miss’.

Then they hang out with their relatives, friends or neighbours and talk (sometimes for hours) about the events media fed them on this particular day or about the events that happened in their lives.

Most of them don’t need additional resources. Usually it’s enough if you share your experience/ know only a tiny bit from a five minute (or an hour long) TV coverage and have an opinion.

Does it matter to you that during those five minutes (or an hour) they fed you experts’ opinions who happen to be right only 50% of the time and tend to talk about what they already know, and not about what’s outside the scope of what they know, and that you basically end up sharing the opinion of one or the other “expert”? In most cases it doesn’t matter at all.

Some people with whom you socialize will share your point of view and some will say you’re nuts. You will instantly side with and favorite the ones who share your point of view and think little of the ones who, in your on words, “don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about”. That’s because sharing our opinion is something we care about the most. The stuff we share is our social currency and we want to be perceived by others as those who have something to say.

Only a tiny percentage of people will be eager to dig deeper to really grasp the context of what’s happening in the world and in their lives. Usually those people will prefer to listen first, get more knowledge and wait until they have something they could base their opinions on.

Most of our discussions though are about our poorly formed opinions and immediate conclusions and not about facts, problems and ideas.

Facts are often sparse or even non-existent and real problems go unnoticed. But since we are social species more often than not the exchange serves not the deepening of our knowledge of a particular subject or understanding it or solving a particular problem, but making or deepening human connections.

So we instinctively engage in those exchanges, most of which are shallow and revolve around what we already know. It’s like an extended small talk — we tell others what’s currently on our mind and they do the same. Thus vast amounts of time worldwide are being wasted each day when they could be used to raise our awareness, gain more knowledge and solve important problems.

In our spare time on our daily commute (holy crap! we have spare time that we ourselves actually call ’spare’!) we hang out on Facebook, because it is essential to know what Jimmy whom you only saw twice in your life had for breakfast this morning, or to share that you are pissed off because your boss acted like a jerk again, or that you go to that concert on Friday evening and you are so excited. And since you’re there you can’t help but check what others are up to today, or where they’ve spent this year’s vacation, or what funny things they’ve shared in their spare time at the work they hate (holy crap! they have spare time too!).

Since the moment people are out of educational institutions they’re constantly and chronically busy. They have rents, fancy clothes to get, credit cards, loans, mortgages, faces to feed, places to visit, addictions and habits to cater for. All of which demand money. So they don’t have time to ponder. Or at least that’s something they end up believing.

Unfortunately awareness never was and never will be on our must have lists. Can you buy the next car (which you’ll use 20% of the time at best) with an increased awareness? No. Can you buy it with a fatter pay check or more credit on your credit card? Yes.


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