Friday, March 2, 2012


I am not a big fan of secrets.  I regularly struggle with the conflict between my desire to say everything on my blog and my obligation to not say things that those close to me want to keep secret.  I harbour the conviction that a completely honest and open lifestyle is a great way to make you a happier person; knowing that people accept who you are rather than who you pretend to be grants such freedom and confidence.  This belief often leads me into conflict with people who are extremely attached to privacy, particularly when it comes to the government or corporations acquiring their secrets.  The fact is that I don't mind if corporations or the government know everything about me, I only mind if they abuse the information.  It turns out though that the easiest way to keep people from abusing information is to simply deny that information in many cases so I end up supporting privacy for security's sake rather than privacy's sake.  Unfortunately some secrets must be kept because there is no way to safeguard abuse of the secret once it is out.

Secrets have immense power over the people that protect them.  My view is that you can rob those secrets of their power by exposing them and freeing yourself from the fear of being found out.  The trick is that my secrets do not offend people enough for me to worry about any sort of retribution.  There have been times and places in which I would have been attacked for the truths about me but here and now is not one of those times; I don't know what it would be like to harbour a secret about myself that would be truly dangerous to reveal.  The power that secrets have and people's desperate desire to tell them to someone has never been so obvious as it is at PostSecret.  This is a project where people create postcards with their most intimate secrets written on them and submit them to Frank Warren and his PostSecret project.  He reads them and posts them on his site for all to see.  Some examples:

230 days clean and counting   never fucking again

I can't tell my family the cancer's back.  I'll beat it first.

I'm adopted.  They say "We love you"...  ...But I've always felt like another piece of baggage in the house... just tagging along.

These are powerful secrets to the people involved.  They and the artwork that goes along with them have stories to tell.  The things that absolutely blow me away are confessions like these ones though:

Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead.

I will never be as good at anything as I am at killing people.

Madness.  Clearly somebody could have made this stuff up but I doubt these are fake.  After watching the twin towers fall and knowing that you could easily have been inside wouldn't you think that you could just walk away from your life and leave everyone thinking you died there?  Very few people would want to do that I imagine but a lot of people would see that possibility and wonder. That glimpse into a miserable person's life, that one moment where they decided to leave forever is breathtaking.  I was amazed at how powerful these secrets were and how many people were desperate to tell someone, anyone, their secret.  Read some of the secrets at PostSecret if you have not before - it is an incredible sight.

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