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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Lifetime Of Secrets

Upon receiving Frank Warren’s “A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book” I was compelled to immediately flip through it until I found something interesting. It didn’t take long. Running my thumb along the pages, I created crease between two pages and pried the book apart, opening it to a giant, two-page copy of a postcard. On the right I saw rows of empty pews amid a white walled church. On the opposite page read the confession, “I have been planning my husbands funeral for 24 years.” And instantly I was hooked.

Born from a community art project in 2004, PostSecret has grown into something so much more. Over the past three years it has reached across the globe, freeing countless readers from their silent suffering under the burden of long kept secrets. Frank Warren, a small business owner with no artistic background, began the project, which allows anyone to anonymously submit decorated postcards with their secrets, as part of Artomatic in Washington D.C. The only requirements are that the secret is completely truthful and has never been previously revealed. Since requesting submissions be sent to his Maryland home, Warren has received over 180,000 submissions and has just published his 4th book in three short years. In addition to the four books Warren has also posted secrets to his website, every week during that time.

The postcards contained in the book are each intricately composed in both their design and writing. Some are beautiful, some are inspirational, others are sad, but all are meaningful and thought provoking. Regardless of your age, race, gender, or creed you are certain to see a part of yourself in the secrets of others. Whether your secret is something as monumental as a suicide attempt or as seemingly insignificant as a childhood prank that you still regret, you’re certain to find something to relate to in this collection.

The book is so full of unforgettable moments that it is hard to know where to begin. Profound fears fill the pages, such as a postcard from a man who reveals, “I’m scared to death that my son will grow up to realize I’m gay and won’t love me anymore.” Others are startling revelations, like those of women who have been raped or those who were molested by friends or relatives as children.

This book also has its lighter moments however. Warren places no requirements on the nature of the secrets and as a result there are many funny secrets. A secret need not be a life-changing event, and “A Lifetime of Secrets” is filled with some hilarious moments. A perfect example comes from the page following a revelation of a girl who was raped and states: “at school… in 6th grade I looked down in my lap, and my you-know-what was hanging out!”

This type of juxtaposition is common in the book, and there is evidence of Warren’s own art in the arrangement and layout of secrets. The positioning is never accidental; there is always some type of relationship between the works that are placed together on each page, whether it be in the content of the secret or the design of the postcard. Warren’s guiding hand only manages to enhance the experience of reading “A History of Secrets.” The ordering of the secrets loosely mimics the human life, with early secrets dealing with issues of children, leading into troubled teenage years, to the indecision of the 20’s all the way to the long held regrets of old age.

The final secret of the collection shows a pair of aged, weathered hands holding a black and white photo of a child with the words “It all passed so quickly,” scrawled across the photo. This sums up my feelings on the book perfectly. It ended too quickly. Lucky for me there are three more books to discover, the website is still updated ever week, and at this rate it seems as though PostSecret will be around for a a long time.