You Didn’t Answer My Question


Eric Stiffler

29 October 2012

“I’m so busy.” Although everyone says these words, America announces them with a hint of pride. Ask a family member or friend about their life or what they have planned for the next couple of weeks and you will hear the word “busy.” You will not hear exactly what the business entails, but you will get informed of that person’s busy life. I often wonder what “busy” really means. A couple of thoughts come to me when someone responds with the word “busy.”  They don’t want to speak with me anymore, can’t think of a fitting description to their life, don’t know the true definitions of “busy,” think having no time to do anything makes them proud or a combination of the above. The word comes out of a person’s mouth with no thought of an alternative. The over usage of the word “busy” dilutes the meaning and raises additional questions.

How we use busy in conversation leaves an impression of hurrying and having no time for anything.  If you have a lot of things going on in your life, saying the word “busy” sums up a would-be five minute conversation. Saying the word “busy” lets everyone know you cannot do anything with the limited amount of time you have but doesn’t respect the people who care enough about you to ask. Today I will hear someone describe their day as busy more than once from more than one person. Rather than share the joys and happiness of one’s life, the busy person will exclaim a life of dread and pressure from the clock.

When I talk to someone about their day, I know the word “busy” will come up if they show anger and sorrow. Often times you will hear a sigh come along with the word “busy.” The answer comes so easily from these people because the phrase “I’m busy” connotes a stressful life. The feeling of empathy enters one’s head when a friend or family member reacts this way. Answering someone with this statement only poses new questions. People say “busy” so often that I have to judge them on how they use the word.

The thought of “foolishly or intrudingly active” immediately comes to mind when people mention “busy” (Gove 303).  People don’t use “busy” in this way all the time, but the more I inquire of these busy people the more unproductive they sound. Dig deeper into one’s life and you’ll probably hear time spent on watching sitcoms, checking Facebook, or playing sports. If an initial response answered with spending time on hobbies, the need to dig deeper and ask more questions would not be necessary. Someone who prioritizes time to play sports and complains that school work isn’t done or about family members not seeing them, intrudes on more important matters. This scenario happens a lot when one pays more attention to what a busy person does. Maybe the statement that busy people are “full of distracting details” sounds nicer (Gove 303).

When you consider that all humans “engage in something requiring time or attention,” telling someone about your busy life could mean anything (Grove 303). Breathing air, watching YouTube videos, and sleeping require time. I think this definition describes how most people use the word “busy. Keeping this definition in mind, a busy person could engage in anything and the word’s meaning disappears when someone pukes it out in a conversation. The second part to this definition explains why you should not be proud and throw the word around like a badge of honor

People who use the word “busy” so readily may pray for the antonym every night. When I picture people being busy, I imagine a room full of chickens running around with their heads cut off. The total opposite sounds like a pipe dream. Imagine sitting at home watching your favorite show or reading a book on the balcony of The Ritz hotel. A mother of five who hires a home nanny to cook, clean and watch her kids would never consider herself busy. If there was one word to explain the opposite of a busy person, I would choose “time.”

Business men and woman live a busy life when they are “full of business activity” and ordinary people live a busy life when they do something that requires time (Gove 303). My request does not involve eliminating the word “busy” from our daily vocabulary. Understand that a busy life doesn’t promote a positive one, therefore; don’t drag your listener down like a crab in a bucket. I only ask that you show respect by briefly explaining to your audience what your business entails rather than throw the word “busy” around like a hot potato or a badge of accomplishment. Your listener may enjoy the conversation more and respect you more for taking the time to explain why your leisure time does not exist.

Works Cited

“Busy.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2012. Credo Reference. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.

“Busy.” Online Etymology Dictionary. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.

Gove, Philip Babcock, Ed. “Busy.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. 1993. Print.



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