By Zoe Fowler
The first time I read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, I was too young to fully understand the significance the book held. Hence, my inability to finish it the first time; but my second attempt was different. I was able to enter a world different from my own, a world that seemed surreal, yet was extremely real. Anne kept her daily thoughts, desires, and aspirations in a diary dubbed Kitty when she was in hiding with her family from the Gestapo. Kitty was Anne’s friend and her secret-keeper during that unbearable time.
Now, let’s take a look at this generation and the society in which we live in. I’m sure many people still keep diaries as a way of coping with their everyday struggles. However, the way we approach secrets and our daily thoughts pale in comparison to what people were accustomed to before the Internet was invented.
Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret, started a community art project eight years ago in Washington D.C. where he gave out blank postcards to strangers on the street. He instructed them to write down anything they haven’t told anyone before. It was supposed to be a simple experiment. Instead, it morphed into this big phenomenon that captured people’s attention and hearts worldwide.
People anonymously send in their secrets on a home-made postcard and Warren chooses 20 secrets to put on PostSecret.com every Sunday. The concept of sharing secrets to release the heavy burden of shame or guilt, even though the person’s identity isn’t disclosed, is simultaneously refreshing and terrifying.
Warren not only gives people a voice but by creating this project, he also makes it possible for the people that read the secrets to feel inspired. This is an alternative form of confessing what no one else knows. In past cultures, people would confess their sins to their priest or sit at their desk in the wee hours of the night, recording everything down in a brown, leather journal. Warren’s approach to revealing secrets is personal, public, and relatable.
As Warren said, “Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.”
Anne is no exception. The people that I see walking down the street, going about their day, are no exception either. Every time I open my Internet browser to go on the blog, I am reminded that we are all connected in some way.