In 2004, Frank Warren distributed postcards asking people to transcribe their deepest secrets and mail them to him. This action, which began as a small community art project, has become a national phenomena---resulting in the creation of an award-winning website (http://postsecret.blogspot.com) and now a book entitled Post-Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, which is a sampling of secrets Warren decided should be shared with an audience beyond himself.
Since Warren passed out a few hundred postcards in his neighborhood, on the subway, and to his family and friends, people from around the world have flooded his mailbox with their secret revelations. The level of effort people put into their disclosures is astounding as he continues to receive creative and elaborate postcards from around the world.
The secrets cover virtually all aspects of people’s lives, making categorizing those contained in this collection quite a challenge. There is a general theme of darkness and despair, however, which may sadden readers who view this collection as a glimpse into our societal souls. A woman who had a post-type piece of jewelry lodged in her forehead writes “[e]veryone thinks I do it to make people stare…but really its to keep them from looking too close.” Another writes “[s]ometimes I wish I was blind just so I wouldn’t have to look at myself everyday in the mirror.” A woman from France, who the reader cannot help but picture as a tall and glamorous foreign beauty says, “I hate every part of my body except my hands.” Another writes, quite simply, “I’m afraid.”
The depth of dissatisfaction responders have with their personal relationships is also a pervasive theme. One woman reveals that she “ wished on a dandelion for [her] husband to die,” and another says “[h]e tossed me aside and forgot about me. I still love him (and it hurts).” The dissatisfaction of men is also represented as one says “I don’t wear my ring because I don’t love her, not because I don’t like rings,” and another says “I feel so lonely I could die.”
While darkness is a central theme of this collection of secrets, I would hope this is the result of a selection process designed to keep the interest of someone who decides to peruse this book as opposed to a reflection of our global community-at-large. Having said that, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the presence of some limited comic relief such as, for example, a Starbucks employee who boasts that he gives decaf coffee to customers who are rude, and another employee who proudly reveals that she wastes office supplies because she hates her boss.
There is no question that we live in a voyeuristic society where people remain interested in the lives of others. To appease this guilty pleasure I highly recommend that you read this book since what you will see is an entertaining, enlightening and unique view.