Monday, December 9, 2013
By KEITH EDWARDS Kennebec Journal
AUGUSTA - Got a secret?
This postcard posted on PostSecret.com reads: “I am a firefighter. I am afraid the day might come when I’m not as brave as I am supposed to be.”
Frank Warren, creator of the website PostSecret.com, will give a multimedia presentation Monday night at the Augusta Civic Center.
A SAMPLING OF SECRETS
THESE are examples of secrets posted anonymously last week on PostSecret.com:
• “As a child, my father would beat me for wetting the bed. Now, when I cry I have to pee.”
• “I killed my cat instead of sending him to a shelter, so he would not be killed by a stranger.”
• “They all lie. They won’t help you. I know. I help them foreclose and get you out of your house.”
• “I’m afraid my husband is the only child I will ever have.”
• “I send emails to professors and faculty monitors very late at night to make an impression that I work hard for my studies.”
• “I saved all the cruel photos you posted on Facebook so that when you run for public office I can publish them and ruin your ‘good guy’ reputation.”
• “I’m still looking for someone like you.”
• “I have come to realize that I want to be a better person in life. Today I am going to start.”
You're not alone, according to the half-million anonymous people who have shared their variously deep, dark, inspiring, funny or outright disturbing secrets with the world on PostSecret.com.
Frank Warren, creator of the website and author of five related books, including "A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book" and "PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death and God," which reached No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list, will reveal and discuss the secrets of the strangers who have confessed them to him on handmade, artful postcards. His multimedia presentation, sponsored by the University of Maine at Augusta Student Government Association, is at the Augusta Civic Center on Monday night at 7:30.
And he'll reveal at least one of his own secrets.
"I'll be talking about one of my secrets at the event, one I've been keeping to myself," Warren said. "I'll show images of postcards people have sent me that have changed lives, brought people together, and postcards banned by the publisher of all five of my books. The highlight, for me, is listening to the audience. I invite them to stand and share a secret they've never shared, out loud to everyone."
Warren said while there is always a reluctance to be the first audience member to share a secret, there is never a lack of secret-sharers once the sharing gets started.
PostSecret.com is viewed by more than 1 million people every week, making it the largest advertisement-free blog in the world, according to press materials from Warren.
The secrets, posted to the www.postsecret.com site weekly, with new posts on Sundays, can range from funny to dark.
A recent sampling included one sent on an invitation to a baptism. The secret: "I'm only having her baptized because I wanted to throw a party! I'm an atheist."
Another was what appeared to be a self-shot photo of a woman's legs, with bones drawn onto the legs. The secret: "Anorexia is going to kill me."
One simply stated: "I killed my cat instead of sending him to a shelter, so he would not be killed by a stranger."
And another stated: "I have come to realize that I want to be a better person in life. Today I am going to start."
Why are people so drawn to read the secrets?
"I really think there is a deep sense of authenticity to these secreted, raw confessions, far beyond what's on reality TV," Warren said. "This is the real stuff people are struggling with."
Warren, a self-described small-business owner and suburban husband and father, got started as a secret-gatherer in 2004. For an art project, he printed out 3,000 self-addressed, blank postcards and asked strangers to write down a secret they had never told anyone before and mail it to his Maryland home.
Now he gets hundreds every day. Warren has been featured on CNN, NBC's "Today" and on the ABC television programs "Good Morning America" and "20/20," as well as on National Public Radio.
"I just had this recognition that I had this rich interior life, secret things that amuse me, my fears and hopes," he said of creating PostSecret.com. "I felt if I could create this safe, nonjudgmental place where people can share these same feelings, it would be special for me. But I wasn't prepared for how it connected with so many people around the world."
He said people's reasons for sharing are as varied as the secrets they share.
People who read his site tell him they eventually see a secret posted there that strikes them very deeply and emotionally, articulated by a stranger on a postcard.
Rose Pelletier, UMA's coordinator of student life, said Warren was suggested as a speaker at UMA by a student. She hadn't heard of the site or Warren, but checked out PostSecret.com for herself and was impressed.
Warren's efforts have also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, according to press materials.
The student government association voted to support the event and, Pelletier said, "It was full-force from there. It's going to be an amazing event."
Tickets are free to UMA students and $20 to the public. They are available at UMA's Robinson Hall or by calling 1-877-UMA-1234, or, if they don't sell out, at the door.
Warren said he's looking forward to coming to Maine. At his last event, in Michigan, he said, audience members shared secrets about difficult relationships, eating disorders and childhood stories.
He said the most touching secrets for him, though, were shared by people who told of struggling with thoughts of suicide, found their way through it, and are now helping others.
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:
click image to enlarge
This is a postcard posted on PostSecret.com.