[A repost (original post Nov 2006) courtesy of the kind of day that is making me question every major life decision I've ever made. Please note that I no longer obsessively refresh the page on Saturday nights. Instead, I check it as part of my routine at work on Sunday mornings. And there are five books now.]
I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume most of you have seen PostSecret--the site where people send in their secrets on 4" x 6" cards, which may or may not get posted to the site and/or included in a book (there have been two books so far and a third is on its way). For those who haven't, check it out. It's disturbing and fascinating and awe-inspiring and sometimes you can't look away from it even if you want nothing more than to not look at it at all.
The secrets are updated on Sundays--at least in theory, though it's quite often updated by Saturday evening, when I log on to begin obsessively checking to see the new secrets. Every week, I scroll down the entire page and by the time I get to the bottom, I think, "What the hell do I do this for?" and I make a half-hearted pledge to not be sitting there the following Saturday evening, obsessively refreshing. I never promise not to check back, but you know, there's no reason it can't wait 'til Monday or whatever--the secrets are up all week.
What's even more fascinating to me than the individual secrets (which themselves range from the disturbing to the mundane), is the impulse so many people have to make a card and send it in. Is it that confession is good for the soul? Is it that there are that many people hoping for their fifteen minutes (or week) of anonymous fame?
Are there people who send in secrets not sincerely, but ironically, as a prank? There's no doubt in my mind, but the interesting thing is that these people are revealing something just as intimate about themselves as the people who send in sincere secrets--they're revealing their cynicism, their mean-spiritedness, their (perhaps misguided) faith in their own superiority, their willingness to put in a relatively large effort for what I can only imagine is minimal reward. In their insincerity, they are just as revealing as others are in their sincerity.
The fact that there's absolutely no way to tell if a person is sincerely revealing a deep (often, though not always, dark) secret about himself or just goofing on us all is part of the bargain you make in scrolling through all those secrets. I like to think most of the postcards we see--and the e-mails in response to them--are sincerely meant and that there is some comfort to be found in finding you're less alone in your little secrets than you might've imagined. And until the site collapses under the weight of its own fame, or I just get bored of it, you know where to find me Saturday evenings between 9 and midnight. (Jeez, I need to get a life.)
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Fascinating.
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