Can You Keep a Secret?
Relish having a juicy secret? The empowerment is intoxicatingly addictive but requires devilishly strong will power. Just imagine if you could share that secret with the whole world but never have to reveal your identity?
I know that I’m incredibly slow on the uptake with this one, but now that I’ve found this site I’m completely hooked. Post Secret (PS) is a community mail art project that explores the fascinatingly complex phenomenon of human secrecy. Since 2005 it has allowed people to anonymously share with the world their untold secrets. The premise is simple; PS invites anyone and everyone to write their secret on a postcard and post it to PS creator, Frank Warren, who then decides which secrets get published.
By remaining anonymous, the secret holder is able to alleviate their guilty conscience without any repercussions. It seems obvious to assume that once a secret is read by thousands of eyes it loses its ‘secret’ status, but does it? I found that as a reader, I was oddly aware that I had entered into a realm of confidentiality. Rather than voiding the secret status, I was merely widening the parameters of those initiated. For the secret holder, this gives birth to a rare sense of fulfilled euphoria. It allows that smug pleasure, the one that swells in your chest when you know something no one else knows, to be combined with the pride gleaned from boastfully sharing a secret.
So how serious are the secrets? They range from the inert and generic “I’m in love with my boss” to the worrying “I’m a racist” to the illegal “I forged a qualification for my job”. The reader is also in receipt of gratification having participated in this bizarre exchange of anonymous knowledge. Readers are relieved to discover that numerous people, from all walks of life, have been harbouring the same secret as them. A true victim of Facebook, I often find myself searching for a ‘like’ button after reading a secret I agree with.
Usually the impact of a secret depends on who the secret belongs to. Anyone can say “I hate my mother” but if it came from Prince Charles, it would take on a whole new meaning. Interestingly it is precisely because of the anonymity that PS continues to work. PS offers a kind of catharsis to those who share their secrets. It alleviates the burden of knowledge and indirectly shares it with the whole world. Talk about a problem shared a problem halved; with the readership of PS your secret would amount to nothing in no time at all.
I created a secret-bearing postcard for PS but unfortunately impatience, in addition to my lack of secrecy, has got the better of me. I couldn’t possibly wait for it to travel all the way to the US to be published so I’ve posted it here instead! A bit of a cheat I know, especially as it completely defeats the point of an anonymous secret.
So here it is: my guilty secret
I offer this as a guilty secret not so much because I’m scared to admit how I feel but because I know that if the poor dog in question could master its vocal chords it would be screaming: “Get me out of this fucking woolly shit!”