PostSecret creator reveals new secrets to Quinnipiac students

By on September 22, 2011
Photo by Anna Brundage/Chronicle

Photo by Anna Brundage/Chronicle

A long line of students snaked through the Rec Center anticipating the arrival of Frank Warren, the man known as “the most trusted stranger in America.”

Warren, the creator of PostSecret, spoke to Quinnipiac students Tuesday, revealing some secrets that aren’t exposed on his website.

“My name is Frank. And I collect secrets,” he said to open his presentation.

PostSecret is an online art project in which people send in decorated postcards that contain a written secret. Every Sunday, selected secrets are posted to the blog for millions of viewers to see, Warren said.

Since the website’s creation in 2005, Warren has put together five PostSecret books. During his presentation, Warren shared with the audience many secrets the publishers banned from the books due to copyright laws, or material too vulgar for publication.

As displayed from a projector, one example that drew laughter from the crowd was a photo of tweezers removing hair from a woman’s nipple.

“I thought it was interesting to hear his story of how he started PostSecret, and to see some of his favorites that weren’t allowed to be published in the books,” senior William Lombardi said.

Warren then asked audience members to share their secrets in front of the crowd.

Students didn’t take long to approach the microphones and share very personal information with their peers. For every secret, the room fell powerfully silent.

“Sometimes we think we are keeping a secret,” Warren said. “But really that secret is keeping us.”

Warren explained how people let secrets define who they are, and hold them back from being their true selves.

The Student Programming Board and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Global Education brought Warren to Quinnipiac to celebrate Diversity Week.

“Frank was a fantastic speaker and the audience seemed very engaged,” said Erin Hodgson, SPB’s Culture and Diversity Chair. “I hope that students made the connection between Frank’s discussion of secrets that we all have and Diversity Week.”

“This event fit perfectly with Diversity Week, especially because people went up and shared their secrets,” senior Margaret Schimpf said. “It shows how diverse everyone is below the surface, not just above the surface.”

When starting PostSecret, Warren ventured out into the streets and handed strangers blank postcards. He asked them to write a true secret on it and mail it back to him. After receiving many powerful secrets, he decided to scan them onto his computer and create a blog. His idea went viral.

Hearing stranger’s secrets helped Warren confront his own past vices. According to Warren, the comfort in identifying with others and trusting those who share similar pain is contagious to his audience. He was driven by the idea of inspiring others to let go of the secrets that hold them back.
“The children most broken by the world become the adults most likely to change it,” Warren said.

He encouraged audience members to use the combination of past obstacles and technology to do something great for the world, just as he did.

According to Warren, thousands of secrets are delivered to his house every week. They are secrets he calls not just ordinary postcards, but “painstakingly creative works of art.”

Throughout his involvement with PostSecret, Warren has become an advocate against issues such as loneliness, self-inflicted harm, body image issues and suicide.

“Everyone is just on a journey to find someone to share their secrets with,” Warren said. “If you forget everything else I said here tonight, remember the courage it took of your classmates to come up here. Together they tell a story.”

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