If there’s no true, pre-set inherent meaning to life then the question, “What did you do with your life?” serves the same practicality as, “What was the purpose of your life?” If there’s no true reason why we’re here then that’s as close as you’re going to get to experiencing and fulfilling any real meaning in your life, and on one level it is real.
Suppose you dedicated your entire life to playing football. Then on your deathbed, someone asks you, “Why were you here?” Well, apparently you were here to play football. It doesn’t matter if that’s what you were supposed to do. That’s what you did. So that’s retroactively why you existed.
Understanding that, if someone asks you what the meaning of life is, and you just smugly tell them, “Life has no meaning…” and leave it at that, then the only influence you’re likely to have on your audience to convince them there’s no point to thinking about the question altogether.
If that happens, they’re still going to end up doing something with their lives. Their life is still going to be guided subconsciously by a primary prerogative…only now they’re not going to be conscious or in control of it. This means they’re just going to let their evolutionary instincts guide them. Their priorities will be to reproduce, conquer and consume, and they’ll fall into the pack or herd mentality and allow the ebb and flow of mainstream culture to define their identity, wants and fears for them. They’ll meander through life as confident as they are blind.
When someone asks you what the meaning of life is, if you say it’s meaningless, you may as well just tell them it’s to mimic your favorite television characters and be a workaholic consumer whore.
P.S. Telling people the meaning of life is 42 accomplishes the same thing.