Think of your deepest darkest secret, a secret you have never spoken out loud and that no other human being knows. Now imagine that secret posted for all the world to see on a website with over 700 million views.
This is the story of PostSecret, a blog that shares the secrets of more than half a million people who have mailed in post cards anonymously expressing their most private secrets creatively. Frank Warren, keeper of more secrets than the CIA, is the creative behind PostSecret.
Warren started this project in 2004 as a ‘community art project’ by handing out 365 blank pre- addressed post cards to people in the D.C. area. Soon after, people began mailing in secret pieces of their lives. Warren took these pieces and uploaded them to a blog post. Since then, millions of people type in his URL to view these emotional works of art every Sunday.
PostSecret gives people the opportunity to let go of a part of themselves that is too embarrassing, traumatic, or simply unlike themselves to share out loud. Warren gives people an outlet to express themselves with the security of privacy. Not only was Warren’s idea creative, but he provides a space for others to share of themselves in a creative way as well. The artwork and visual representation of these secrets is exceptional.
PostSecret is creative both in the culture and climate it exists in. According to scholar Laird D. McLean, cultural creativity involved the truths about a society that are found below Schein’s iceberg model of the unconscious. Reveling secrets, that which is found below the waterline, exposes the deepest truths and meaning of our culture. Climate is what McLean defines as “the manifestation of practices and patterns of behavior rooted in the assumptions, meaning, and beliefs that make up the culture” (McLean, 229). Maybe is it the way in which PostSecret caters to humanity’s need to feel interconnected with others that makes the website so widely popular in our cultural climate. As Warren states in an interview after being asked why PostSecret has been so successful, “I think people find some of the funny and sexual postcards amusing but eventually you come across a secret that you might recognize as one of your own. One you might be hiding from yourself. I think it is those moments of epiphany and empathy that have allowed the PostSecret community to grow” (Warren).
PostSecret’s element of privacy allows the person freedom to be creative, a quality McLean states allows the individual to develop more creatively. Based on the amount of superficial weather talk all of us engage in at some point or another, there is no doubt that privacy allows a person to let their thoughts, feelings, and ideas flow without any reservation. This is the root of PostSecret’s creativity.
Mclean, L. D. "Organizational Culture's Influence on Creativity and Innovation: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Human Resource Development." Advances in Developing Human Resources 7.2 (2005): 226-46. Web.