PostSecret to bring new perspectives
Lecture choice fosters creation of community
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 08:02
Since 2005, PostSecret has provided people across America with the ability to share secrets online without revealing their identities. Some secrets are cringe-worthy (“I stopped loving my husband six months after we got married. That was in 1982”). Others are funny (“I’ve [sic] never had a celebrity crush until I turned 45”). Many seem illogical (“Eating makes me feel vulnerable. Starving gives me strength”). Most of the time the secrets posted are gutsy, but more importantly they are anonymous.
We live huge portions of our lives online, but often our online personalities don’t match up to who we are away from the computer or iPhone screen. The wonderful — and horrible — thing about creating a Facebook or Twitter account is that it helps us to censor the parts of our lives that are embarrassing. It also doesn’t give people a full picture of who we are.
We tailor the content of our walls and feeds to portray us in a certain light. Our online lives are more exciting than the events that happen away from Internet. Facebook and Twitter allow us to cut out all of the boring stuff and skip to action. A lot of the time it makes our lives look more exciting than they really are.
The allure of bringing a lecturer like Frank Warren, the creator of PostSecret, to campus is simple: We all have secrets, but sometimes we don’t have the right medium in which to share them.
As college students, we’re saddled with a lot of challenges, both personally and academically. Many of us are at a vital transitional stage in our lives, walking a careful tightrope between being a teenager and an adult. We’re dealing with money, friendships, romantic relationships and academics on so many new levels it can be exhausting. While it’s easy to post a sarcastic status about our problems, this often does not get at the heart of the sitution. Yes, gaining sympathy on Facebook and Twitter is nice, but it doesn’t actually solve the problem.
It takes a lot of guts to reveal our deepest secrets to our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. We live in a time that demands we have an online presence, and yet not all of us have enough courage to put every facet of who we are into our Facebook profiles.
PostSecret gives us the opportunity to say what we cannot on our selectively crafted social media sites that are not only being looked at by our friends, but by strangers and future employers as well.
Not only that, but sites like PostSecret cater to the fact that we’re in huge transitional stages in our lives. We like to think that when we leave high school, we’ve got it all figured out.
In reality, college opens our eyes to so many things other than independence from our parents. Many students feel like they are alone with their problems, so sites like PostSecret help to build community without giving away our identities. Mailing in a secret to PostSecret strips away the stigma that sharing the same secret online poses. We all have secrets, but often we can never find the right people or medium to express it through.
On the surface, speakers like Warren may not appeal to everyone. He’s not a comedian, and he himself is not controversial. Because he works in the business of anonymously publishing people’s secrets, there is no one to blame for the problems we face. But that’s the thing. Sometimes we don’t need someone to blame, we just need someone to listen, someone to relate to what we are going through.
While Warren will not garner as much media attention as the likes of Tucker Max, and may not draw a crowd as huge as Bill Nye did last year, he is highly sought out for his lectures throughout the world because he helps to build community between strangers. PostSecret does not cater itself to one kind of audience. People from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of problems have sent secrets in.
We forget that behind our perfectly crafted Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds that we all have problems, big and small. PostSecret isn’t about just the big things — although a lot of the secrets posted online do touch upon tricky issues like eating disorders, mental health, sexual assault and so on — but rather the trials and tribulations of being human in a digital age.
PostSecret is also about the little things. People send in secrets about falling in love, being young and enjoying life. Some are meant to be silly and give strangers a chuckle. PostSecret provides countless people with a vehicle to get their problems off of their chests without destroying whatever fragile image they have created from themselves. Nothing is off limits because it is all anonymous.
While it’s nice to have comedians and rappers take the stage at Brockport, these events don’t cater to every person on campus. PostSecret does. Having secrets is part of being human. Not everyone in Brockport is going to be familiar with PostSecret, but we’ve all had or have secrets we cannot tell others.
Frank Warren’s lecture will give Brockport students the opportunity to either let these secrets out, or simply see that they are not alone in their problems.