What is Signal?
In a recent interview I was asked what I mean when I say “Everything Is Signal.” I replied that for the last few years, I had begun each New Year on January One with the maxim, “Less Noise, More Signal,” by which I meant that I wanted more of what I communicated to others, and more of what I drew in of what others tried to convey to me to be more and more meaningful. I wanted more of my life to be Signal, and less of it to be mere Noise.
Our lives, and the time of which they are comprised, is precious, and many of us spend a great deal of that time engaged in fairly meaningless things. That isn’t a terrible thing — sometimes you need those breaks of comfort food that’s bad for you and really awful television that might make you stupider, but in the moment is really relaxing — but it’s not very notable either, not if you make a regular practice of it.
Then a couple of years ago, I had a startling realization: Noise doesn’t exist. Everything is Signal.
What I had previously assumed to be Noise was in fact just lazy Signal. Everything we do, say, and choose is Signal; every interaction with others, both good and bad, is Signal; everything we project out into the world — and indeed, everything we choose not to project — is Signal. It all has meaning, and it all is worth careful consideration.
You are given two things in your life: time, and the choices you make as you pass through it. That’s all. You can spend that time drawing in as much meaning as you can from what others project, and presenting to them in turn the things that are most useful, most helpful, most kind, most worthy, and most noble about how you see the world — or not.
What is Signal? Everything. Everything is Signal. How significant your Signal will be is a choice you are making every moment you’re alive. Chose wisely and well. It’s entirely up to you.