I subscribe to lots of blogs but read very few on a regular basis. Except PostSecret, the blog featuring people's deepest secrets, written on postcards -- many works of art -- and submitted anonymously. Every Sunday, founder Frank Warren posts 20 secrets, chosen from among the thousand or so he receives each week. Sunday Secrets is a highlight of my week.
Love and hate and sex and dishonesty and regrets and self-loathing and yearnings and questionable personal habits and all manner of human failings and foibles come spilling out. The blog is equal parts entertaining and shocking, and it's reassuring to realize that even your darkest secrets are very likely shared by others. (A lot of people pee in the shower, Warren reports. Just so you know.)
"When you really feel that somebody else shares your burden, it can't help but make that load a little bit lighter," Warren says.
Now he has launched a PostSecret app, currently available for the iPhone, with an Android version to come later this year. Users can upload a photo and secret, geotagged if they like. Others can comment on it. "You can write a reply that is connected to that secret forever," Warren says. (There is a system whereby secrets and comments can be flagged for review.)
Whereas the PostSecret blog has received approximately half a million secrets since its 2004 launch as a "creative prank" or "a kind of punk art project" as Warren describes it, in one month the PostSecret app has already racked up a quarter million secrets. While the blog is carefully curated, the app is a free-for-all, which sounds exciting, but maybe not so much.
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"For five or six years, people have been saying to me, 'I wish I could see all the secrets that come into your mailbox,'" Warren says. "Now people actually get a chance to see all the secrets people are submitting and I think, in a surprising way, some people are happy about my curation of secrets every Sunday."
But PostSecret is more than just entertaining; it's been a lifeline for some people, who credit it from deterring them from suicide. Others have made positive changes in their lives. Though it started as a lark, Warren now uses his platform to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention, and the app includes a comprehensive database of suicide hotlines worldwide, compiled by more than 80,000 volunteers.
Warren had no idea the blog was going to explode as it has, he has no idea what will happen with the app. He's already seen a marriage proposal on it (she said yes), thousands of responses to secrets, and he speculates on its potential to develop into another social network. "I think there's something really powerful about the combination of postcards, creativity, and technology," he says. "Hopefully we've made something that will last much longer than PostSecret or myself."