The Busy Humblebrag


As always James Shelly writes well, this time about being busy. Few excerpts, and yes I grabbed copies of most of the papers cited.

Thorstein Veblen proposed in 1899 that wealthy elites flaunt their leisure time as a class and status symbol. Leisure, he summarised, was less about relaxing and more about demonstrating the ability to afford relaxation. What Veblen did not imagine is that a hundred years later, the most affluent people would also be the busiest people. What Veblen got right, however, was that the wealthy class sets the bar for etiquette and behaviour for the rest of us.

I guess that’s because we decide we want to “be like them”, wealthy and all that.

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown argues that busyness and ‘exhaustion as a status symbol’ is rooted in feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and shame.

So we’re trying to tell others that we’re important and worth notice because we’re busy.

I very much enjoyed this alternate wording to “I’m busy”

‘I have systematically unrealistic expectations for what I can physically get done in 168 hours a week.’

He also has plenty good to say about busy being a space where we have lack of clarity on what matters.

Very good thoughtful article.