Tuesday, June 18, 2013
AUGUSTA -- Got a secret?
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 "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 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 got started in 2004, as a self-described small business owner and suburban husband and father. 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 TV shows such as Good Morning America, the Today show, 20/20, CNN and NPR.
"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.
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