#520 Tell him your secrets

Frank Warren

Photo clip of Frank Warren from his TED talk

If you have a secret burning inside you, something you have been hesitant to share with anyone, you may be one of the more than half a million people who have spilled the beans to PostSecret.

Frank Warren has been collecting secrets since November 2004. Here’s how he described his project in his February 2012 TED talk:

I printed up 3,000 self-addressed postcards, just like this. They were blank on one side, and on the other side I listed some simple instructions. I asked people to anonymously share an artful secret they’d never told anyone before. And I handed out these postcards randomly on the streets of Washington, D.C., not knowing what to expect.

One of many stories Warren shares in the TED talk

Warren’s letter carrier must have made a lot of special trips to drop off the thousands of cards that flooded Warren’s mailbox. People created their own and sent them from around the world. Warren posted digital copies on a Web site and created an online community. He became a popular figure on the speaker circuit and published collections of the post cards.

He says, “PostSecret.com is the most visited advertisement-free blog in the world.” Who could resist a site where people’s secrets are shared like so many hugs offered to people still hesitant to reveal their own? Tens of thousands of people have sent post cards and posted on the chat forums.

The secrets are all over the emotional landscape, like these from the cards posted as Sunday Secrets:

  • Changing my car battery with my own hands gave me a greater sense of accomplishment than anything in medical school ever has.
  • I’m avoiding you because I’m afraid that once you get to know me you’ll think I’m stupid
  • Everytime a 40 year old guy tucks a dollar into my g-string, I wonder “could that man be my dad?”

PostSecret is almost like stepping into the confessional, with no judgment or penance attached. Frank Warren has tapped into a deep, human need and treats the secrets that come his way with compassion. He gives me hope.

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