By Amy Sondova What started as a small community art project has become a world-wide phenomenon, such is the power of art and secrets in the Internet age, such is the power of PostSecret. The concept is simple—decorate a postcard anyway you like with a secret that no one else knows, and mail it to what is becoming one of the most famous addresses in the world—13345 Copper Ridge Rd., Germantown, MD 20874.
Each week, PostSecret’s founder Frank Warren reads through thousands of secrets, posts around 20 on the PostSecret’s blog, and interacts with his audience. Not only does he offer chats a couple times a week, he tours the country talking about PostSecret and its impact. Be sure to catch Frank and PostSecret on his fall speaking tour. Frank was gracious to take time out of his busy schedule to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.
PostSecret has become so popular, why are people so into virtual voyeurism?
I think if it were just virtual voyeurism, it would not be so popular. What has surprised me the most are how people are choosing to share secrets that represent every emotion, hope, sex, fear, humor, despair, kindness, etc.
Sometimes I get emails from people explaining how they were able recognize a secret in their own life for the first time only after being inspired by seeing a courageous confession at http://www.postsecret.com . I think it is these kinds of human connections taking place in a nonjudgmental safe “place” that bring millions of people back to PostSecret every month.
I know that PostSecret partners with 1(800) SUICIDE, why did you form this partnership?
I do not think there is a direct connection between secrets and suicide. But the issue of self-harm has touched my life in several ways. Over 150 million people have visited the PostSecret website and I think that by making visitors aware of some of the social services available for people in need the project can serve a higher purpose than if I just posted advertisements and pop-up banners.
Nearly all the postcards that I receive come anonymously and some of them contain painful details. I can’t reach out and offer help to these people individually but I can use the sites popularity to raise awareness and funds for the issue of suicide prevention. So far we have raised over $500,000 for 1(800) SUICIDE.
How many postcards do you receive a day and how do you sort through all those secrets?
I get about 200 postcards every day from all around the world. I read and keep each one. I’m a guy so my organization and sorting process is pretty lame. That’s one of my secrets.
Do people come up to you at events and tell you about postcards they’ve sent to PostSecret?
What is one of your favorite stories that happened via someone sending in a secret?
When I was speaking on a college campus one time a woman came up afterwards and told me she had found the strength to leave an unhealthy relationship because she recognized a secret she was keeping from herself on a stranger’s postcard. The secret read, “I know I am an abusive relationship because I have lost all my own opinions.
Be sure to visit PostSecret online to read this week’s secret (the blog is updated every Sunday), learn more about the community art project, and to check Frank’s speaking schedule. You can even support PostSecret by buying one of the books here.