Secrets Saving Lives

11 Nov

Ok, so I know I mentioned PostSecret in my previous post regarding anonymous media, but after learning about Second Life in class and discussing the anonymity of avatars for networking, it got me thinking back to this viral art project.

To make a long story short, PostSecret was created by a man named Frank Warren, who handed out 3,000 blank postcards to strangers with two things written on the back: one was his home address and the other was a request for these strangers to anonymously send in a secret on the card to contribute to an ongoing community art project. The directions were simple: share a secret that no one knows, keep it concise, readable, and most importantly, make it your work of art. The cards that were sent back to him were turned into an art exhibit and posted to a blog. From there the cards flooded in and the phenomena that is PostSecret began. Over five years since the beginning of the project, Warren now has four published books, two blogs, and travels the world speaking about PostSecret and partnering up with worthy causes like the suicide hotline.

And of course, with various social media tools, PostSecret has gained even more followers through the Facebook and Twitter accounts. I peeked around on the PostSecret Twitter for a while reading some of the more recent tweets and came across several different posts about the “Soldiers Secrets” video. As last Thursday was Veteran’s Day, the videos release was timed perfectly for the occasion. The four-minute video is a compilation of post cards from soldiers and those with close ties to soldiers that reveal chilling, heartbreaking and honest secrets.

I find it pretty amazing that a project based on such a simple idea has made its way overseas to have an impact on soldiers at war. A lot of the secrets shared were confessions that those at war would not want to share with their loved ones to protect them from worry, but also secrets that were releaving to get out in the open. The effects that PostSecret has had on people (going off cards read from the blog) and their changed perspectives on life are almost therapeutic. If you have ever shared a secret with a stranger, it’s kind of a feeling of weight being lifted. The original premise of the project has definitely evolved into something much more complex but nurturing at the same time.

Something I stumbled upon that really made me realize the power of social media was a post referencing the “please don’t jump” secret. I did some investigating and found that it was actually a Facebook group that a PostSecret reader created in response to a devastating secret they read.

“I have lived in San Francisco since I was young. I am illegal. I am not wanted here. I don’t belong anywhere. This summer I plan to jump off the Golden Gate.”


The Facebook group generated huge amounts of support from people sharing their own experiences with suicide, posting encouraging comments and providing options for help. It also sparked an organized demonstration of support from a group of people who showed up on the Golden Gate Bridge to leave flowers, balloons and encouraging messages of love and compassion. The Facebook group currently has over 25,000 members who are continuing to provide support through daily messages. The mission of group was to hopefully grab the attention of whoever wrote the secret and show them that they are loved and appreciated in this world. It is really uplifting to see thousands of strangers coming together all for the life of one person. It shows there still is a sense of humanity in our society and that human beings can do great things if they use their power wisely.

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