Blogs reveal our similarities

Some secrets are amusing, “I say I’m a vegetarian but I eat meat on the sly.”

Some are shocking, “Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I’m dead.” And others are despairing and hopeless “I’ve written my suicide note four times and never followed through because I didn’t like the way my letter sounded.”

If you could tell someone your deepest secret, would you want to, and who would you tell?

Thousands of people are sharing secrets such as these – with PostSecret founder Frank Warren – and the millions of people like me who have visited the blog (

PostSecret began as an experimental art project.

In November, 2004, Warren distributed 3,000 self-addressed postcards around suburban Washington where he lives and requested people anonymously mail the card back to him with a secret.

The project was unexpectedly successful and to Warren’s surprise continued even after the initial 3,000 postcards were mailed – people started creating their own postcards and continued to mail them to him.

To date, Warren has received 20,000 postcards from places as far away as Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Australia, Ireland and India.

New secrets are posted on the Web site every Sunday and PostSecret has become the third most popular blog on the Web, receiving 19 million hits since it began.

What is it about this site that has made it so overwhelmingly popular and why are so many people willing to reveal their secrets?

“There are some secrets that we think we’re keeping, but those secrets are actually what keeps us. I think one way to face those secrets is to write them on a postcard and then physically let it go into the mailbox,” Warren said in a Newsweek article.

In addition to the book, Warren has displayed many of the postcards in several art exhibitions in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

The band called, The All-American Rejects saw the appeal of the postcards and used several of them in their music video “Dirty Little Secret.”

I personally enjoy checking the updated Web site every Sunday just as many other people do.

It has made me think about what kind of secrets I might have, but most of all how does it feel to be rid of a secret by slipping it in the mail and finding it posted on the Web site for all to see.

The appeal of the Web site is undeniable – rarely do we find this kind of honesty among our friends and family and the realness of the postcards is the biggest draw.

There would be consequences if we told someone for example, “I knew before I married him that I would end up divorcing him. And I did.”

Through the simple act of creating and anonymously mailing the postcard we are able to rid ourselves of the secret – minus the consequences.

In addition to showing the postcards on the Web site, Warren also posts messages people have sent them about how mailing in their secret changed their life.

One woman was able to gain the strength to leave her abusive husband as a result of mailing in her secret, “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to give myself permission to feel good about myself.”

Although the site is interesting and appeals to our voyeuristic tendencies, Warren’s motives aren’t solely for artistic purposes.

Many of the entries concern issues of depression, “The drink that is slowly killing me is the only thing keeping me from killing myself.”

Warren has chosen to post a link to The Hopeline Network because of his own experiences with suicide and many of the sentiments expressed in the postcards.

Mailing in a secret is undoubtedly soothing for the mailer but it also affects those who read the secrets.

Warren’s respondents sum up the effect of the Web site, from Egypt “I never knew that people are so identical. They just pretend they are not.”

Maybe you’ll find yourself getting rid of a certain secret by mailing a postcard, or maybe you’ll think about what kind of secret the person sitting next to you could possibly be harboring.

As Warren says we’ve all got secrets, “Some are funny, some are tragic, some are shocking, some are gross.”

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