I posted a first blog on January 8, 2003. For more than a decade, I was an obsessive blogger, posting once every single work day. Sometimes, while traveling, I would go to serious lengths to get online in order to post just before midnight to avoid breaking my streak.
Lately, I have slacked off. I posted 163 times this year, or a little more than three times per week.
I blame Donald J. Trump. In 2018, I spent too much time following the latest outrages, about which I had nothing unusual or useful to add. Nowadays, I’m not reading as much serious stuff as I used to, unless it’s directly relevant to research or teaching. For several decades, I read almost every article in every issue of The New York Review of Books, but now I watch a growing stack of unopened issues. Instead, I’m pouring my time into checking whether the Post says something different from CNN about Trump’s latest tweet or what happened to the S&P and the presidential approval polling average as a result of the day’s news.
Then again, maybe this is not Trump’s fault. We’re each responsible for how we deploy our attention, and there is still plenty of excellent new work to read and reflect on. A New Year’s resolution, then, is not necessarily to blog more but to squander less time on ephemeral outrages in order to understand their deeper causes, or else to appreciate more of the things that are wonderful about our world.