Secrets are powerful social objects: they connect and bind people in a unique way. Monday's keynote at SXSW featured Frank Warren of PostSecret, who gave insights into the "unity we share, but often forget". During this presentation, a person walked on stage and proposed to his girlfriend.
"With postsecret, Frank Warren pioneered the idea that a website can serve as a an anonymous online confessional. Listen to his moving story about the trust his readers put in him, as well as his thoughts about how technology can help us overcome some of our darkest fears."
"There are two types of secrets, those we hyde from others, and those we hide from ourselves" - Frank
Has received over 200,000 secrets in three years. Has received secrets in all types of formats, including one on each side of a mixed-up Rubik's Cube. Also on a Starbuck's cup, that read "I serve decaf to customers who are rude to me":
- "My boyfriend is deaf and when we have sex I scream my ex's name"
- "I put lipstick on my bosses shirt so his wife thinks we're having an affair even if we're not. This sounds crazy even to me"
- "I know my child is not mine, but I love her anyways"
- "You called me an idiot so I sent your bags to a wrong destination. Opps, I guess you were right!"
- Favorite one: "Dear Frank, when I wrote down my secret to send to you, I felt horrible reading it, and at that moment I decided I will no longer be that person who carries this secret inside for the rest of my life."
- "You told me your darkest secret, and my heart ached because I realized I could not possible love you ever more"
- "I've gone through dark periods in my life and I've learned to have patience, because hope does not always come on the time schedule we would like"
- "I know how to fix my life, I just chose not to"
- "He's been in jail for something I did 10 years, 5 more to go"
- "The secret I mailed in last week was true when I mailed it, but it's no longer true now"
- "All these web celebs have never worked with clients"
- "Work paid for me to come here, but I actually came here to find another job"
- "My company, a large one, has sent me here to steal ideas from startups. I'm posing as a freelancer"
Presentation, discussion and question and answer
Three years ago printed and handed out 3,000 postcards with instructions on sharing a secret to an art project. "Hi, my name is Frank and I'm collecting secrets." The people who say they don't have any, have the best ones. Secrets started pouring in, from all over the world and in many languages. So he started sharing these on a blog.
PostSecret is an online community that organizes itself as it develops. There are 10,000 or 100,000 other ideas like PostSecret out there waiting to be started. Projects that make us realize the greater unity that we all share, but that we often forget.
A rock band made a music video using secrets, and the project also evolved into a book. The project has also been used to raise money to support (and save) a suicide prevention hotline.
His father did not understand the project initially, but one day told Frank a secret that changed their relationship.
Frank had to grow up quickly when he was young and develop a rich interior life ... and thought that everyone else also has a rich interior life that's important to share. He also found the process of sharing a secret very therapeutic.
People are sharing secrets, but the truth is that similar secrets are shared, even by people sitting in the same room.
There is an intimacy revolution, an authenticity revolution going on. We post pictures on Facebook our employers shouldn't see. Social media tools are driving this type of revolution and many new forms of authenticity will emerge.
There are secrets occurring in virtual worlds, too.
People share secrets about sexual identity, about abuse ... When Frank gets difficult and emotional ones, he channels the emotion to support the suicide prevention hotline.
He thinks of the postcards as works of art.
It's a false dichotomy to think secrets are either true or false.
"Free your secrets and become who you are"- Frank (to a standing ovation)
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