It’s crazy-bad. Crazy. Man, I’m exhausted from it. Reeling. I tells you, right, if I don’t stop for just one goddamn minute and have me some me-time, I will not be responsible for my actions.
I know you’ve heard people say things like that but be honest, how often have you said it too?
We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.
Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”
The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until—eventually—the bubble bursts, and we’re left scratching our heads wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset we’re overvaluing now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all; what Jim Collins calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”
This bubble is being enabled by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we “should” be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important.
McKeown’s article is on Lifehacker but it was originally on the Harvard Business Review which I want to mention both because that’s where this originated and these things should be noted, but also because the original piece had a great word in its headline. That headline is “Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy“. I love that word humblebrag.
And I’m only a little bit ashamed to admit that I need to eat me some humblebrag pie.