No individual is completely immune to feelings and the reactions that follow. When words or actions are projected toward us, some of us react more strongly than other, some feel the need to speak up, others to figure things out for themselves. In any case, these are secrets that affect us personally. Today, I chose to present to you a project I have been following since my early teen years. Of course, these are years in which you might be more sensitive and where life’s mysteries are uncovered. When I discovered Postsecret, it helped me to realize that much worse situations can be found elsewhere, and I was reassured. Secrets are normal, and they sometimes make life a bit more magical.
Postsecret is an online community that went viral in about 10 years. Founded in 2004, even the initial story has a curing aspect. Frank Warren says the following about its creation:
“In December 2003, I took my first trip to Paris, France. That night checked into a hotel in the Latin Quarter. While I slept I had an extraordinary dream that would change my life and eventually lead me to the PostSecret project. My first day in Paris I had purchased three Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “Little Prince” postcards from a small shop near my hotel. When I got to my hotel room and prepared for bed I placed the cards in the nightstand drawer and went to sleep. During the night, I had a lucid dream in which I was aware that I was in my own dream. I found myself in my hotel room. In my dream I opened my nightstand drawer and examined the three “Little Prince” postcards. Each one had been altered with messages written on their backs. The first message read, “unrecognized evidence, from forgotten journeys, unknowingly rediscovered,” the second message was about a “reluctant oracle” postcard art project and the last message I could not understand at the time. When I awoke, I removed the actual postcards from the drawer and tried to recreate them so they would appear like the ones I had seen during my dream. What I did not know was that those three remade Little Prince postcards would be the first work of a trilogy of postcards that would consume my life and set me on an unimaginable journey.In January 2004, I started the “reluctant oracle” project. Every Sunday, I created and released a new work to be discovered. They were discovered by people serendipitously. The story found local, national and international media coverage. The last message from “reluctant oracle” bore the message, “You will find your answers in the secrets of strangers.” The next Sunday the PostSecret began.”
So that’s it for the little story but the connection with the Petit Prince is already a good start in explaining the concept. Just as the Petit Prince, people are either thrilled by discoveries concerning our surrounding world or are led in being deceived by what they experience. Sometimes, life goes its own way and we don’t really know how to cope with it. This is how personal secrets appear and they can have various and sometimes serious effects on our well-being. Secrets can range, looking at it from an optimistic perspective, from pursuing a passion no one else is aware of, having a double life, amusing little habits, memories that changed our views on things, or on the contrary, being seen from a negative perspective, it could relate to mental or physical abuse, feelings of discomfort, psychological influences on our lives, etc. Postsecret gathers both aspects and that is what makes it so great.
Postsecret is, in this sense, a sort of remedy. Instead of calling anonymously for support, the idea here is to send in a postcard with your secret written on it. By sharing, a feeling of relief might be encountered and prevent people from sinking into despair. From another perspective, these postcards are also works of art. Individuals put the effort in representing their fears, anger, incomprehension, etc. They translate their feelings into visuals that might make us comprehend the issue better. In my opinion, it is touching and beautiful, and shows that these people believe there is something better out there, that is to be found in a stranger’s support. The fact that somewhere else, someone understands or is feeling the same.
Frank Warren doesn’t tell us if all of these declarations are actually sent in or if they are created by the community (that remains his own little secret) but either way, what we see is Art. We can clearly see that the initial postcard is always selected according to the secret. The visuals are stunning and touch upon various forms or visual art such as cartoons, photography, or even drawing. Afterwards, the writing on top of the visuals shows the personal aspect of the secret. Handwriting differs from one person to another and hence shows a part of ourselves. That is why, on some of the postcards, scrap-booking is seen, to show this deeper wish of remaining anonymous.
The site isn’t actively updated, meaning you’ll only be able to see novelties on Sundays. On this day, Postsecret updates the “Sunday Secrets” as well as the “Classic Secrets” sections. Other countries such as France or Germany have their own sites but they are less often updated. Nowadays, Postsecret also published books gathering a large amount of sent in letters. It is a great read as you merely turn the pages but at the same time, you realize how much pressure can be put on people in today’s world, and how lonely one can feel. Also, Postsecret collaborate with the american suicide prevention, meaning their aim is to help people.
all postcards are a copyright of Postsecret.
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