The AFP newswire is reporting on a talk given by Frank Warren to the TED conference in California last week. He was speaking about a website he started in 2004 that has blossomed into one of the most unique and thought provoking on the Internet. It’s called simply PostSecret.com, and that says it all. People send paper postcards through the mail to Warren, and he posts them on the site. But it’s more than that of course, because each of those postcards holds a secret that the sender promises, has never before been told to anyone. Warren met with the Editors of PC Magazine recently for an interview and during part of it described how he started the project by purchasing 3000 postcards which he self addressed and then passed out to strangers while he was visiting Washington D.C. All he asked for in return was their deepest secrets. And that’s exactly what he got.
In his talk, Warren says he believes he has tapped into some part of the human psyche that has been little studied, the part where people hold secrets, sometimes for many years. Secrets that eat at them. Giving people a way to tell someone, without causing trouble for themselves, he says, seems to give people some peace.
He acknowledges in the interview that there is also the likelihood that some people simply make stuff up in hopes of having their words appear on an internationally known website. But even that, he says, shows some people have a darker side than those that surround them may think. When asked about the dark nature that seems to permeate the site, Warren says he believes that’s all part of secret keeping. After all, who keeps happy secrets to themselves?
Warren isn’t a psychologist or even in that field, instead, he says he’s an ordinary suburban dad and husband, who simply grew bored with the monotony of his successful printing company. The postcard thing was just a whim, he offers, but now clearly demonstrates a lot of pride in what it’s become as he stands on the stage during his presentation beside a giant pyramid displaying nearly a half million of the cards. He also points out rather demurely that his site is the most visited advertising free site on the entire Internet. This is the case especially that almost all hosting services claim that they are the cheapest web hosting 2020 out in the market.
He plans to keep it that way he adds, he’s making more than enough money from his business and the books he writes, edits, publishes and sells about the cards and the secrets they hold.
He finishes by thanking all those hundreds of thousands of people that have shared their secrets with him, and all of the rest of the world and hopes doing so has helped them in some way.