Creator of PostSecret blog speaks to students

Hundreds of St. John’s students gathered in Marillac Auditorium on March 19 to listen to “the most trusted stranger in America” spill the beans on confidential information from people all over the country.

“My name is Frank and I collect secrets,” the stranger plainly announced to the audience.

“Frank” is actually Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret.com, a popular online blog where people anonymously submit their secrets written on postcards. The postcards displayed on Warren’s site range from haunting and sad to uplifting and humorous.

Junior Angel Pena said he is a fan of the blog.

“I like the fact that these are real people telling the world their secrets,” he said. “It helps for other people to know that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling.”

The lecture was part of St. John’s Spring Semester academic lecture series and Warren’s own nationwide college tour.

Since the Web site was created in 2005, Warren has published more than 200,000 postcards on his blog and four books.

“I’ve found that you will find a postcard that speaks to you no matter what your situation,” Warren said. “I’ve gone through depression, being homeless and the death of a friend and believe that there is still hope.”

Warren has even managed to translate his online venture into mainstream success when the postcards he published were used by rock band The All-American Rejects in a music video for their 2005 song “Dirty Little Secret.”

According to Warren, his project began four years ago while working for a suicide prevention hotline.

“I printed blank post cards and drove to D.C.,” he said. “I approached strangers and asked them to anonymously contribute a secret to an art project. I was soliciting secrets.”

He eventually found that postcards were arriving in his mailbox and soon enough, the idea began to spread by word of mouth.
Warren said he was surprised by how courageous these strangers were and how their secrets inspired him to share with his own family. As the secrets kept coming in, he said he knew he wanted to keep sharing.

Soon after, he started the PostSecret blog, where he would scan the postcards he received and share them with a larger audience.

During his college tour, Warren usually closes his presentation by asking the audience to share their secrets and stories. However, he told audience members that St. John’s had asked him not to do this and instead opened the floor for questions. This did not deter students from sharing secrets anyway.

This was one rule many students said they were glad was broken.

“I have to say the part that really got to me the most was seeing my fellow peers standing up and sharing their secret,” said Pena. “It was moving to see people that you go to school with letting go of something close to them.”

Other students shared similar feelings.

“I think that Warren has tapped into something brilliant that has helped so many other people deal with issues that they might not have the courage to tell people, so by doing this, in a way, is therapeutic to them,” said junior Tiago Fernandez.

“It also gives other people inspiration to do the same.”