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Saying 'I'm Busy' Makes Us Feel Important, According To Science

Admit it.
PHOTO: Nick Onken

We’re 100 percent sure you have people in your life who are just perpetually busy—you can’t even remember the last time you saw them. And while we’re not contesting that some people really do lead busy lives, nobody is busy all the time, for months on end. In fact, "I’m busy" isn’t just your go-to response for when you’re too lazy to meet up with friends; you probably also say it when people ask how you’re doing.

Marketing professors Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan (of Columbia, Georgetown, and Harvard, respectively) recently explained that being busy and not having enough time for a social life are the new marks of importance and social status. We’ve somehow transitioned from revering people who can afford to have a lot of vacations to wanting to be that boss who’s overworked and overscheduled.

Participants were asked to compare the lives of relaxed and stressed out men, and determine which guy had the higher social status. The researchers theorized that it has something to do with how the nature of work has changed in the last decade: "We think that the shift from leisure-as-status to busyness-as-status may be linked to the development of knowledge-intensive economies. In such economies, individuals who possess the human capital characteristics that employers or clients value (e.g., competence and ambition) are expected to be in high demand and short supply on the job market. Thus, by telling others that we are busy and working all the time, we are implicitly suggesting that we are sought after, which enhances our perceived status."

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But who really cares about social status? Take advantage of those VLs, ladies! 

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