How to Live the Rest of Your Life

I haven’t mentioned him in a while, but I still have a slight man-crush on Neil Postman. Brilliant Jewish writer, teacher, and critic of education, technology, and media who was a professor at New York University for years.

I have his advice on how to live the rest of your life on my office wall. He would give this lecture to his students about once a year, and it was collected by one of his PhD students and given in lecture form to the New York Society for General Semantics on December 8, 2005. The transcript is here, which includes examples and explanations that I don’t list below. If you have access to university library’s databases, search for it there, as it will be in better format. Or, if you want his brief explanation on one of them, let me know in the comments.

“To lead a more balanced, productive, and pleasant existence, follow this advice on how to live the rest of your life meaningfully.

  1. Do not go to live in California.
  2. Do not watch TV news shows or read any tabloid newspapers.
  3. Do not read any books by people who think of themselves as “futurists,” such as Alvin Toffler.
  4. Do not become a jogger. If you are one, stop immediately.
  5. If you are married, stay married.
  6. If you are a man, get married as soon as possible. If you are a woman, you need not be in a hurry.
  7. Establish as many regular routines as possible.
  8. Avoid multiple and simultaneous changes in your personal life.
  9. Remember: It is more likely than not that as you get older you will get dumber.
  10. Keep your opinions to a minimum.
  11. Carefully limit the information input you will allow.
  12. Seek significance in your work, friends, and family, where potency and output are still possible.
  13. Read’s Law: Do not trust any group larger than a squad, that is, about a dozen.
  14. With exceptions to be noted further ahead, avoid whenever possible reading anything written after 1900.
  15. Confine yourself, wherever possible, to music written prior to 1850.
  16. Weingartner’s Law: 95 percent of everything is nonsense.
  17. Truman’s Law: Under no circumstances ever vote for a Republican.
  18. Take religion more seriously than you have.
  19. Divest yourself of your belief in the magical power of numbers.
  20. Once a year, read a book by authors like George Orwell, E.B. White, or Bertrand Russell.
  21. Santha Rama Rau’s Law: Patriotism is a squalid emotion.
  22. Josephson’s Law: New is rotten.”

3 thoughts on “How to Live the Rest of Your Life

  1. #13 really caught my attention, as I wondered how this might affect our view of religious movements/trends, both good and bad. Reading in Exodus this morning, I came across a law in which God said, basically, don’t side with the crowds. Exodus 23:2.In fact, crowds don’t often come off so good in Scripture, do they?Final note: I think a lot of these suggestions deserve discussion regarding how they relate to the internet age (e.g. #11, #12).


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