The World of Post Secret: Why Postcards and Letters Still Matter
The Internet is an interesting space. We have the ability to connect with people around the world with a few clicks and swipes. We’ve literally got the world at our fingertips and information is readily available on pretty much any topic we conceptualize. Remarkable times, right? Not too long ago I received a book that reiterated my love for all those things, and I’d like to share it with you. PostSecret.com is a website created by Frank Warren. It stemmed from a community mail project he began in 2004, where he invited people to anonymously send him postcards revealing secrets they had never shared before with anyone else. In his new book, The World of PostSecret, (Harper Collins, 2014), Warren says “My goal was to receive 365 postcards. As I write this, I have received more than 1,000,000 from all over the world.”
The completely anonymous people are invited to decorate their postcards as they wish, along with their big reveal. Some write little notes with felt pens and others cut out letters from magazines and piece together their secret. There are no restrictions on the type of secret or the length; all Warren asks is that the secrets be truthful and not shared before. Isn’t that something? And it highlights a sense of anonymity that can only happen with handwritten (or hand-created) mail. Think about it: In a world where we’re so hyper-connected, here’s an opportunity to put a piece of yourself out into the universe, without anyone knowing it’s you. I love it! It’s the concept of anonymity that lets these individuals feel comfortable enough to share a deep and meaningful part of their being. It allows them to release an idea, a thought or even an experience that’s weighing on them. It’s a creative and helpful outlet that has, in fact, helped so many people around the world.
To this day, Warren receives hundreds of anonymous secrets by mail, sent directly to his home. And he keeps every single one of them. There are secrets that talk about shame. Thoughts that explore the notion of lost love. Words that highlight deeply rooted pain. Since he began this project, Warren has gone on to create a website, have five huge bestsellers, an app, and has travelled around the world sharing secrets. In fact, a lot of his mail has been featured in museums and galleries, from the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The World of Post Secret shares more postcards and secrets than ever before, including secrets from Warren himself, as he discusses some of the most controversial mail he has ever received. Here are some beautiful examples that appear in his book. They range from the absurd and the heartfelt to the heartbreaking and the hilarious. Plus, not only is this a gorgeous looking art project, filled with people’s most intimate secrets, it’s also geared towards aiding those with mental health issues.
This stunning hardcover book retails for $29.99 USD, and can be purchased online at harpercollins.com, or at a bookstore near you.
All images courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers/Frank Warren via The World of PostSecret (2014)