In 2004, Frank Warren began a small art project called PostSecret which was, originally, meant to be a project where people would anonymously send in their secrets on postcards that would eventually become part of an art exhibit. These secrets could be anything — to this day, “I pee in the shower” is the most common secret sent in — but the only real rule was that it had to be true and something the sender had never shared with anyone. The project rapidly became popular and has since transformed into a large, international community where post cards, among other things, are still sent to Warren’s home.
However, Warren now puts the secrets he receives up on a website weekly for anyone to read and respond to. Everything is still anonymous.
For a very short time, PostSecret had an app where users could take a picture and share their secrets anonymously. People could search by location and see the secrets posted in their area. Unfortunately, Warren had to take the app down because a few people chose to use the app to post inappropriate pictures.
Because of PostSecret’s popularity, “PostSecret: The Show” was born. Last Saturday, Feb. 6, the show visited the Ferst Center. The crowd, visibly excited, was comprised of about half avid PostSecret fans, many of whom had never stepped foot into the Ferst Center before that night, and the rest were people who knew much less, if not absolutely nothing, about the concept and the community.
The point of the show was for actors to give a voice to many of the secrets that had been sent to Frank Warren as well as tell the story of how PostSecret developed into a strong community and the many good things to have come from the movement. Many good things have come about since the creation of PostSecret because of the nature of the project.
One example would be the mother who was able to not only buy presents for her children on Christmas as well as some well-needed necessities because of the kindness of strangers who otherwise would not have been able to help, or even know about her situation, were it not for a secret Warren shared on his website about not buying presents for one’s children on Christmas.
Additionally, another important positive impact to come from PostSecret highlighted at the show was the overwhelming response to a post card that said, “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 Bridge.”
This post card sparked a movement, started by a concerned PostSecret viewer, called “Please Don’t Jump,” which pleaded both with the original writer of the card, as well as any other people who may be contemplating the same thing, to reconsider.
The momentum of the movement culminated in an event held on the Golden Gate Bridge itself and a proclamation making Sept. 22 “Please Don’t Jump Day” in the state of California.
As this show was being performed on at a school that has a very high stress environment, it is important to note that Tech, too, has people willing to help members of the Tech community who are struggling with issues such as depression, anxiety and stress overload as well as those grappling with the after affects of traumatic events such as assault and abuse.
From the Women’s Resource Center and VOICE to the Counseling Center to the Psychiatric clinic on campus, there are many resources at Tech students’ disposal to help maintain a healthy lifestyle in addition to the high academic success students strive for. These resources offer a variety of forms of aid ranging from relaxation rooms to the Collegiate Recovery Program (for those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse).
On a broader scale, Frank Warren and PostSecret are strong advocates for the Hopeline suicide prevention hotline for people who feel like they have nowhere else to turn. The show even opened with a monologue describing an encounter between a hotline operator and a woman getting ready to jump off of her balcony.
Though this story highlighted one of the advantages of true anonymity when sharing some secrets, it also was the start of a running theme throughout the show: if it ever feels like there’s no one to talk to and nowhere to go, there are always prevention hotlines and caring people, albeit strangers, willing to help talk anyone in a bad place off the ledge.