When I started the Cocoon a little over six years, I didn't have many hopes for it. I was just a struggling early-career scholar with few friends or professional contacts in the discipline (due, admittedly, to some bad choices I made early on). I started the Cocoon not because I expected anyone to read it, but simply because I was sick of feeling isolated and alone in a discipline that seemed to me to incentivize those things. My only hope in starting the blog was that I might find a few similarly-minded others: people like me who were sick of feeling alone, and who wanted to help each other make their path through the discipline just a little bit better.
In some ways (many ways), the Cocoon succeeded beyond my wildest hopes. It seems to be widely read, at times has had a good stable of contributors, has been a wonderful way to get to know other people (and helped me feel far less isolated), and I've often heard people say complimentary things about it (though maybe they're just being nice). However, there's one major thing about the Cocoon that has been a persistent disappointment, at least for me--and that is how few early-career people have joined as contributors. I will be frank: since day 1, I've always hoped the Cocoon would really bloom--that early-career people would come out of the woodwork left and right to congregate here to post regularly and speak their minds: sharing their work, discussing their career struggles, and so on. Yet, while there are many commenters--as well as people who have (mostly anonymously) shared professional questions and career struggles in our "how can we help you?" series--the blog has consistently had few official contributors...and these days it is basically just me and sometimes Helen.
I've often wondered why so few early-career people blog. It could of course be anything: maybe people think they have better things to do (like, you know, research and teaching). However, I've asked people about this on occasion, and every time I've done so the dominant answer seems to be very different: fear. Fear of what search committees might think. Fear of what other philosophers might think. And so on (see the comments section above). If this is the truth--and it appears to be--I think it is just terrible. It is the reason why I began the Cocoon in the first place: because I was sick of living alone and in fear. I wanted a better profession than that. And yet--or so it seems--the fear is still there. Why? And how should we grapple with it?