willwilkinson

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Least Signaling Activities?

As others have mentioned, there seems like there's an important distinction between doing things, talking about doing things, and doing things so we can talk about having done them. Whether or not they actually signal anything is a different issue. There are many things I think we do or do not do with no signaling intent. We sincerely might not care what our shoes say about us, and so our choice of shoes has very little signaling motivation, but we may nevertheless signal very strongly to certain people through our choice of shoes.

And many things that we do not intending to signal, we can use to signal by talking about them later. Like everybody, I need to eat. I used to go to lunch at the same place every day and get "the special," since it was always one of three sandwiches I liked, and that way I didn't have to think about it. At some point, it occurred to me that telling someone that I ordered "the special" every day might communicate something like my highly-focused intellectual's dislike of trivial distraction, so I started to tell people that I ordered the special for lunch every day. But that's not why I started doing it. I now eat a ham sub sandwich almost every day for lunch, and I don't believe I have told this to anyone before now. No doubt I signal something when I say that I do this almost exclusively because I like ham subs from this particular shop a lot and it doesn't cost very much, but I don't eat there all the time so I can say this.

Like others, I like to impress people with how impressively well-read I am. For all I know, all my intellectual interests are rooted in some kind of biological signaling imperative. But given those interests, I read lots of things just because I'm curious about them. There's lots of stuff that I've read in private and never thought about again. Same with TV. In fact, these are probably my main non-signaling activities, time-wise. That said, I read even more stuff because I want to draw on it in conversations and debates, etc. We might choose to undertake certain KINDS of conventionally strongly signaling activities in order to signal, but we might also perform the activity in specific instances with no signaling interest.

Also, cuddling and playing with my dog. I do it a lot when nobody's around because I really like it. Maybe I'm signaling to my dog that I love him? Maybe certain kinds of signaling are enjoyable for their own sake, and so we send the signals to our dogs or into an empty house, indifferent to its success, just because we need to send signals like we need to eat?