Neil Postman is one of my favorite thinkers, changing much about the way I think about media and modern society, with varied applications to the church, in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death. His “Advice for Living the Rest of Your Life,” a lecture delivered by Postman, is something I stumbled upon via Austin Kleon (his books!).
The complete lecture can be found here (delivered initially in 1989, and again with revisions in 1993). Kleon cited his favorite bits. I went back to the full manuscript, and decided to quote Postman’s list in its entirety. If you want Postman’s commentary, you’ll have to go to his text.
- Do not go to live in California.
- Do not watch TV news shows or read any tabloid newspapers.
- Do not read any books by people who think of themselves as “futurists,”such as Alvin Toffler.
- Do not become a jogger. If you are one, stop immediately.
- If you are married, stay married.
- If you are a man, get married as soon as possible. If you are a woman,you need not be in a hurry.
- Establish as many regular routines as possible.
- Avoid multiple and simultaneous changes in your personal life.
- Remember: It is more likely than not that as you get older you will get dumber.
- Keep your opinions to a minimum.
- Carefully limit the information input you will allow.
- Seek significance in your work, friends, and family, where potency and output are still possible.
- Read’s Law: Do not trust any group larger than a squad, that is, about a dozen.
- With exceptions to be noted further ahead, avoid whenever possible reading anything written after 1900.
- Confine yourself, wherever possible, to music written prior to 1850.
- Weingartner’s Law: 95% of everything is nonsense.
- Truman’s Law: Under no circumstances ever vote for a Republican.
- Take religion more seriously than you have.
- Divest yourself of your belief in the magical powers of numbers.
- Once a year, read a book by authors like George Orwell, E.B. White, or Bertrand Russell.
I plan to heed numbers 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, and 19. Number 6 does not apply. I’ll consider numbers 3, 13, 16, and 20. I have no intention of applying 4, 14, 15, 17, and 20.