I’ve been busy

Language is quite fascinating. There are so many different ways to say hello and to carry on a conversation that makes each greeting very interesting. Eventually, it may lead to what we all like to consider as a form of small talk.

What is small talk really? What defines the difference between a casual conversation and supposed small talk? Are there any topics to avoid in order to determine what is acceptable and what is not during this short interaction? If not then why do people seem to be so uncomfortable over simple questions such as, “Hi. How have you been? What have you been up to lately? Are you enjoying the weather? We should catch up another time, would you like to go out to lunch or something?”

Instead of giving an answer that could carry on the conversation, there is one answer that seems to cut the small talk earlier on than expected. It is short, to the point, and we all have heard it at least once today. Whether it was in the form of, “I’m all right,” “keeping busy,” or, “I can’t. I’m busy,” it is used as a way to get out of a conversation faster even if no one in the conversation is fully aware of it.

It’s not necessarily the word “busy” that is considered to be an unacceptable reply. It just holds a habit of causing curiosity or suspense within the opposing party, especially if they do not fully understand or know the person they are speaking to.

Busy could mean anything. You could be busy with work, school, your social life, just keeping occupied for the time being. It could really mean anything at all. Often times when this word is being used, especially in the predicament of trying to plan event, it is viewed as sort of a way of rejecting the other person or invitation. Sadly, it is also considered to be quite rude if not specified with what exactly the other person is ‘busy’ with.

It is a word that is followed by an excuse and when it does not contain one, it makes one look like they are avoiding a simple confrontation without saying yes or no. It makes one person wonder what they may be up to that has their attention conveniently during every event while it may have the other person feeling like they politely declined.

Quite the confusing word to use when forming a reply if you think about it. Amongst many other forms of communication, you could say it fits right at the top of one of the reasons why there is miscommunication in friendships or any other form of relationships for that matter. It is vague in certain degrees, but is also accepted in others.

Perhaps it was welcomed at first into the relationship as a mutual agreement. Everyone is busy with something, so therefore the reasoning did not need to be specified at one time. So why does it need to be all the other times? Maybe it was used to stop a uninteresting conversation and became a force of habit.

However it happened, how we chose to say one word to vaguely describe how our time is already occupied could potentially cause a few issues or concerns. Particularly if you find you use the word too often as an excuse for everything.

Hannah Hobbs is a millenial, a wife and a college student living in Hubbard Lake. Her column will appear bi-weekly on Saturday.