Conspicuous Consumption: How To Hack Signaling Behavior To Improve Your Life

You signal. I signal. We all signal.

You do things, say things, and buy things that signal your social and reproductive value.

As Oscar Wilde said, "Everything in the world is about sex — except sex. Sex is about power."

We all signal, and as humans, we have no choice in the matter, so we may as well use it to our advantage if we can.

How you signal is what you want to optimize.

The signals you use can have a significant impact on your life for better or worse.

Step one is becoming aware you do this.

Start asking yourself why you signal the way you do.

Think hard about why you drive the car you do, live where you live, wear the clothes you do, post what you post online, etc.

Think about the utility, cost, and alternatives you might try in lieu of your current signaling behaviors.

How can you tweak what you currently do to make your signaling behavior improve your life?

I've personally shifted most of my signaling behavior to benefit my health and finances.

For example, I care more about owning a lot of Bitcoin and having financial security and freedom than having a big house or a new car. (We recently downsized from a huge house in the country to a smaller—and cheaper—house in Austin.)

If you're spending time and money on things you want other people to notice, you're engaging in conscious consumption.

The question to ask yourself is this: Is there a way to conspicuously consume things that are good for me?

Some examples:

Get into fitness.

Take pictures of home-cooked Real Food at home.

Go outside and move, and if you have to, record it for social media so you can get some signaling value out of it.

Go to the park and layout and read and do other things that are good for you.

Signal better to change your identity

As you engage in more healthy and financially productive forms of signaling, your life will improve drastically.

The more you identify as a saver/investor/hodler, the more you grow your wealth. This is a much better way to signal your financial status than going into debt to buy designer junk.

If you start signaling a health-related identity, you'll start making more healthy decisions.

The more signals you make, the more this solidifies into your new identity.

So when I post a big fat juicy steak on Instagram, I'm signaling how I know how to cook a perfectly medium-rare steak and how I'm a health-conscious eater of home-cooked Real Food. And maybe I'm even thinking about how I get to eat steak every day, which would be a financial signal (though I never consciously thought about that).

Imagine how to signal that you're a saver and financially intelligent by drinking water Friday night instead of running up a $50 bar tab.

Ask for the gluten-free menu the next time you eat out (or offer to cook instead of going out).

Post pictures or make videos about your favorite healthy habits, foods, routines, etc.

Share financial strategies you've learned about getting out of credit card debt or how you simplified your life and donated most of your closest.

So on and so forth.

Aren't these signals MUCH BETTER than buying designer crap and going into credit card debt?