Friday, November 20, 2009

Secrets, Posted

Postsecret is the the largest advertisement-free Blog in the world; with 180,000 secrets posted, it's the most riveting bit of human drama to be found in the digital realm.  The site invites people to mail their secrets on postcards, and now the founder, Frank Warren receives 1,400 a day.  He keeps every single one, according to someone I know (he or she will remain anonymous, naturally) who went to a live event where he spoke.  The example above is the one that grabbed me from the current page, which updates at midnight every Sunday morning.  Each of these postcards is a gem.  There is art because it's beautiful in language and often aesthetically so as well.  There is shock, humor, and sweetness.  And, as in the post above, sometimes there is something unsettling.  We wonder about the whole story--what the hell is this about?

In his speech, Warren said the second most common statement he receives is, "I wish I had someone I could share my secrets with."  (The first, which I will leave to the experts, is "I pee in the shower".)  There are several paradoxes at work here.  People wish they could find someone with whom to share their secrets, yet they can only express this cry from the heart to someone they do not know.  They read a blog dedicated to secrecy--and read it rather obsessively, which I now understand after a half-hour on the current post--yet the live gatherings where Warren speaks are sold out regularly.

The person who introduced me to the site--he/she has been reading it since 2005, which means I am late to the party indeed, so there are no doubt readers for whom this is old news--told me today that "..the best [posts] are..gut-wrenchingly honest admissions of fault in some way.  What better way to say you're sorry, and provide an apology to a random person out there who so desperately needs an apology from another stranger?  It's closure for two unrelated [people} who happen to be reading the same website." 

How cool is that?  Sometimes our apologies are rejected, or they come too late.  Other times we wish we had been open to someone's reparations, but our hearts weren't ready.  Maybe reading the words we need from a stranger who has had a common experience can take us to a place where we can heal.

What we really want, according to Warren's anecdotal evidence, is someone who sees us for who we really are, secrets and all, and loves us anyway.  While there are many who claim cyberspace is dminishing our humanity, Postsecret provides plenty of evidence to the contrary.  Once you see it, you will find it very difficult to look away.    

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