Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of people have sent their deepest, darkest secrets anonymously on a 4-by-6-inch postcard to Frank Warren, who in turn posted many of them on his public PostSecret blog.
The blog soon became larger than that, evolving into an ongoing community art project. It offered readers a bit of healing and connection, as many of the secrets touched on issues of failed relationships and family worries and insecurities. Some secrets were sad, others silly.
Yesterday, PostSecret launched an iPhone app that looks and reads much like the original blog.
PostSecret has never been easy to read. One early postcard bore a drawing of the twin towers and read, “Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead.” A later secret that served as a suicide warning note sparked an offline movement to stop a person from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
The app is no different. A first glance at the app — on which users can share secrets anonymously by taking a photo on their phone, adding a 140-character message and uploading it — includes secrets that are just as heart wrenching.
“All I wanted for my birthday was to hear from you... I miss you so much,” one secret reads, with a photo of a white dog behind it.
“This is where I cry,” reads another secret, from Birmingham, over a photo of a shower.
And while users may worry about inclusion of the location-sharing feature on iPhones, the good people of PostSecret spent two years crowd-sourcing from the 80,000 members of the PostSecret Community to create guidelines that ensure the secret-sharing was safe.
Perhaps what’s best about the app is that it will be integrated with the International Suicide Prevention Wiki, the worldwide directory of suicide prevention hot lines, text lines and resources.
Warren says that “from the very beginning of the project, people have wanted to reach out and connect to the people behind the secrets.”
This app provides a way to make those connections.
Here at the Washington Post, we’ve been inspired by PostSecret to do our own community art project around Sept. 11. Come join us tomorrow as we build a virtual memory wall as a tribute to the attacks.