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May 8, 2017

‘Post Secret’ founder tells all

PostSecretPic WEB

(Courtesy www.flickr.com/pop!tech)

I ran over my neighbor’s dog. I slept with my best friend’s husband. I pee in the shower. I like popping pimples. What’s your deepest darkest secret? And how would you feel broadcasting it to the entire world? Tortured? Afraid? Embarrassed? Relieved?

These strong visceral responses to airing one’s own, or hearing another’s deepest darkest secrets have contributed to the “Post Secret” phenomenon.

Five years ago, Frank Warren started a little blog in which he would publish anonymous secrets he received by mail. Today, it has become the largest advertisement free blog in the world.

The blog currently boasts 240,015 followers and as of yesterday afternoon has received 307,401,249 visits. Frank Warren, “Post Secret’s” founder, has also given rise to a number of similar projects around the world.

Warren has also published five books compiling senders’ secrets. His latest book, “Confessions on Life, Death and God,” which is arranged around the central theme of faith and spirituality, hit bookshelves this past October.

On his MySpace page, Warren describes “Post Secret” as “an ongoing community arts project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.”

The only conditions of the project are that the secrets must be true and must actually be secret. There are no restrictions on content or quality. The point is simply to get them out there, completely anonymously.

Secrets range from the amusing and superficial, to the profound and disturbing. Many focus on love, faith, self-doubt and shame. Other confessions come as secret pleas for help.

In response to the substance of some of the confessions Warren receives, he has established a suicide helpline to make assistance available to those who send in their secrets in a last grand gesture to a world they feel has forgotten them.

Recently, he has embarked on a lecture tour speaking to sold-out auditoriums across the country. There he provides background on the project and speaks directly to the incredible position of privilege he has as arguably the world greatest secret keeper.

In one of the many “Post Secret” videos on the website, Warren reflects on the intimacy of the process and the courage of the senders. “I’ve been astonished by the frailty and heroism I see in the secrets of ordinary people.”

To secret sharers, the “Post Secret” platform offers a kind of release, or the opportunity to reconcile oneself with guilt or make peace with a past experience. Additionally, the process of creating an artistic rendition of the subject of the person’s secret, paired with airing a long-guarded confession also proves incredibly cathartic.

According to Warren, “there are two kinds of secrets, those we keep from others, and those we hide from ourselves.” But he likens secrets to gifts we keep buried inside, where the act of sharing them can be a terrifying and beautiful thing.

As Warren suggests, “free your secrets and become who you are.”

Frank Warren will speak at the Fine Arts Center tonight at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Cal Scannell can be reached at ccscanne@student.umass.edu.

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