Check out The Temple News’ exclusive video coverage as well as the print edition of the article. PostSecret creator Frank Warren speaks to students about his project’s success.
Video by Matt Flocco, Nicole Font, Breland Moore, and Ian Rose. Edited by Brittani Miller and Rachel Stewart.
As a part of Temple’s homecoming week, Main Campus Program Board invited PostSecret creator Frank Warren to the Baptist Temple to present his touring show, “PostSecret Live,” on Thursday, Oct. 14.
At the end of the presentation, Warren invited students to share their own secrets with their peers. One young woman approached the microphone and continued to explain that she had a female acquaintance in high school who committed suicide.
Ten minutes later, Kristine Mead, a freshman English and studio art major, took the microphone.
“I tried to be the girl in high school who killed herself,” Mead said. “Knowing that [you] were bothered by the death of someone [you] weren’t even friends with made me OK with the fact that I failed. Now I know no one has to feel that way because of me.”
After the presentation, Mead elaborated on this and her second secret: that Thursday marked the first night she was able to cry since she started college.
“The reason I came here by myself tonight was because I’m afraid to reach out to people,” Mead said. “I knew I had friends here tonight, and [I went up] because I wanted to tell them I was sorry and thank them for making my life easier. It felt really important and really good to tell everyone this.”
Strangers approached Mead after the event, embracing her. Some exchanged numbers with her and said they wanted to be her friend.
Many additional secrets were shared last Thursday night. This expression is the kind of dialogue Warren set out to create when, in 2005, he began collecting homemade, decorated postcards containing people’s secrets.
“[Our struggles] allow [us] to have more empathy or be more creative, or reach back and help somebody who’s going through the same thing,” Warren said.
Students lined up for the event in the rain, the earliest of whom arrived at 2 p.m. – five-and-a-half hours before the show began.
In addition to students’ general consensus that PostSecret allows them to get the weight off their shoulders and let them know they are not the only ones who struggle, some said the event was about creating community.
Some students, such as Zach Sands, a senior sculpture major, found ways to correlate Warren’s work with their own interests.
“A lot of the Tyler sculpture art [projects] right now are community-based projects, which is essentially what this is,” Sands said. “There’s a lot of work exactly like this, trying to engage community and getting strangers together.”
Dana McCloskey, a junior music education major, said she has been a follower of Warren’s work since 2005.
“[PostSecret] is an awesome bonding experience for students,” McCloskey said.
Warren receives approximately 1,000 postcards each week, but he can only select 20 for his website.
“I would say the selection process is kind of just my gut,” Warren said. “I try to weave these together to tell the story about all of us.”
Postcards vary in subject, from serious to comical messages and from drastic to simple ones. Some are created by hand and mailed with a postage stamp to his Germantown, Md., address, while others e-mail Warren.
Nearing the end of his presentation, Warren placed a heavy emphasis on the innovation of the Internet and the togetherness it can provide.
“The Web is so wide open,” he said. “It becomes a community that can bring people together in the real world. It helps find new ways to tell our story and build relationships, changing lives and maybe even changing the world.”
PostSecret followers may not be changing the world by scribbling on a postcard and sending it to Warren, but after hearing Warren and fellow students share their stories, many lives – including Mead’s – changed.
Matt Flocco can be reached at email@example.com.