By lifestyle consumption I mean seeing lifestyle, which is a pattern of behaviors, as a product to be consumed. This product can be a book, celebrity shows and magazines, clothing, and so on.

Effectually, the lifestyle is idolized and people then flock to the given lifestyle and buy into its associated behaviors.

What is happening here is simply people invent another concept to consume. You can be “a millionaire next door” which is appealing to people who are into careerism and frugality, or you can be a “lifestyle designer” if you’re young at heart and like to travel the world on a budget. You can even be “un-something” together with thousands of other people. Read the blog. Buy the book.

Much as I try to insert caveats even this blog seems to have acquired its own brand called ERE. I suppose it aptly summarizes what I’m trying to say even though what I say is not particularly novel. However, there are several ways to relate to this (see book, end of chapter 4 ;-P ). The simplest is to copy what I do. This is not what I intend because only the simplest actions can be copied with the same benefit. Copying complex motivations and actions usually fail. This is why I am very reluctant to give out too much info about my investments fearing that my portfolio will be copied and I consequently will be blamed for poor performance regardless of whether I in the meantime bought protective puts, covered with calls, or outright sold positions.

Fortunately it is possible to relate to information in many different ways. I am primarily interested in “causing” knowledge which is an understanding of the information. Information itself is not useful other than as a source of knowledge generation. I submit you can have a huge library, of for example, peer reviewed scholarly journal papers. However, if you don’t have a horde of professors and grad students able to understand these papers, the papers are essentially worthless. First, the papers are often written in a special language, but worse, they can not be boot strapped. What this means is that the knowledge does not exist exclusively in the papers. You actually have to be an expert to understand what is written; often what is not written is as important and you have to be aware of this. In particular, send 3 generations of academics to the plow fields and you might as well burn the libraries for fuel. Written knowledge exists only in a context.

This is the same reason why it is practically impossible to write a book with “actionable” items if the action requires deep understanding or even understanding. It is impossible to write a book which will turn anyone into a super investor. Likewise, it is impossible to become an investor by reading a book.

A lifestyle is by definition a way of life. It is much more than a book. Unfortunately, we have become a society of the quick and easy. It is subconsciously presumed that by buying a product like a book, we can become whatever the book or blog or t-shirt tells us it represents.

It is not so though. It is said that the written word is powerful. However, this is only the case if you can understand it and no understanding can come from the mere act of consumption. Production in the form of thinking must be present.

Jacob comments: What I am trying to say is that, say, getting a degree in X (biology, say), does not make one an X. Working in the field as an X may make one an X. Then again it may not. There is a saying goes something to become the master you must do what the master does (first). However, replicating is a low state of understanding. The why’s must be understood to actually become the master. There are several intermediate steps on the road to mastery.

Originally posted 2010-05-09 14:33:09.