The Postsecret Community

As I look back on my experiences this semester on the Postsecret blog, community blog, iphone app, Facebook and Twitter page, the most important aspect appears to be the individuals that make up the Postsecret community. Because Postsecret is anonymous, it was extremely difficult to begin an ongoing conversation with other members of the community. That being said, the Postsecret community has the ability to respond to a secret with support, empathy, compassion, and understanding. I found the following secret on the iPhone app that explains the Postsecret community perfectly:

There are individuals on the site who just want to make other community members smiles:

People come to the Postsecret community to share good news and bad news:

It was easy to get the Postsecret community to respond to my posts, but I never heard back from Frank throughout my project. I tried to contact him multiple times through Twitter, Facebook, and the Postsecret blog. I was upset that I never heard back from him.

The story of Robert and Valerie demonstrates the amazing power the Postsecret community can have. The following secret was posted to the app:

Robert’s secret immediately rose to the top secrets of the day. In addition to “hearting” and replying to the secret, some individuals took it upon themselves to help Robert’s search:

I jumped on the bandwagon through twitter:

Along with the rest of the community, I expected Valerie to discover the secret, return Robert’s love, and they would live happily ever after, all thanks to  Postsecret. But that’s not what happened:

Though it’s not the ending I expected, the story of Robert and Valerie demonstrates the overwhelming power Postsecret possesses. Through Postsecret, strangers are able to connect in a real way. As the popularity of Postsecret continues, more and more secrets are shared with the community, expanding the discourse of the community!

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Wikipedia Entry

The “Postsecret” page on Wikipedia.org was pretty informative. I included a detailed background story of how Frank began the project, how different media outlets have responded to Postsecret, and information about the Postsecret books. I was shocked, however, that there was no information on the Wikipedia page about the iPhone app, which has ended up being a huge part of my practicum project. So, under the heading, “Public attention and other media.” I added a brief summary of the launch of the Postsecret App through Apple. I included information that was shared on the Postsecret Twitter account (such as the launch date, popularity, etc) to ensure accuracy in my post.

Over the course of the semester I have saved my favorite secrets from the Postsecret App; I figured this is the perfect time to share them with  you… enjoy!!




Postsecret technology

I wonder if Frank realized how integrated Postsecret would become with technology! Since the launch of the iPhone app, the Postsecret community has become more interactive than ever before.

This participation provides a sharp contrast to the Postsecret community blog, another aspect in my practicum project. I am supposed to communicate with the Postsecret community, which has proven to be nearly impossible. In fact, the first discussion post I made on the blog, which ironically has remained to be the most “popular” conversation on the blog, has had no responses since my post months ago. It was much more rewarding and entertaining to look at secrets on the iPhone app- I can respond to recently posted secrets and potentially have someone respond to what I posted, possibly creating a conversation. No matter what I posted to the blog, there was no response. I rarely published a secret on the iPhone app which didn’t have some kind of response- so far, the biggest response I received got 139 “hearts” and 6 replies!! I was thrilled. However, there is the possibility that a secret can fall through the cracks of the iphone and become lost in the app. Many times, I see secrets from people who are suicidal, posted either as a last cry for help or as a goodbye post. It frightens me to think that someone who feels so alone might not be comforted by the Postsecret community.

Because when this community has the opportunity to get together- amazing things are possible. I often look at the Postsecret app right when I wake up in the morning- one day, I saw this secret-

I immediately “heart-ed” the secret. I planned to continue to check the app throughout the day, but the next time I checked the app (not even a full half hour later), I saw that the secret was not only a top secret of the hour, but there were far more than 100 hearts:

Though, as you can see, some people responded with hurtful messages, other responses were more supportive:

A short while later, the writer of the original secret responded to his secret by saying:

I was happy that I was able to be a small part of this person’s journey. I now check my Postsecret app more often than my Facebook or Twitter apps, which is saying a lot.

My favorite, of course, is checking the Postsecret blog (different from the community blog) on Sundays, where Frank posts the Sunday secrets. However, as many times as I emailed my responses of the secrets to Frank, none of my messages were chosen to be included in his blog. So, to end this blog post, I will share my favorite secret from this week:


My experiences using the Postsecret iPhone App

When I download apps for my iPhone, I usually search for the coolest free apps available, with a few exceptions (bejeweled, akinator, etc). But paying $1.99 for the Postsecret iPhone app has proved to become money well spent. I check the app almost everyday- I look at the most popular apps for the day or scroll to see the most popular secrets that have been sent in the last 60 minutes. I should point out that when I say that a secret is “popular,” I mean that it has many “hearts.” Anyone who sees a secret can heart it ❤ There was a recent update for the app which allowed the amount of secrets to become “unlimited,” you can continue to scroll through an endless stream of secrets.

Discussions are able to take place through the Postsecret iPhone app by “replying” to a secret. It is really cool to find a secret within a secret within a secret (it’s kind of like the matrix). I have noticed some patterns in the secrets which have more replies than others. Secrets where the individual is sick/asking for prayers for themselves or a friend or family member tend to get a lot of supportive responses. I have noticed that a lot of secrets regarding weight-loss tend to also elicit supportive responses. Sometimes, when someone posts something on the app that isn’t a TRUE secret, individuals in the community will tend respond in opposition to the secret. Since the community is annonymous, I have noticed that users of this iPhone app do not seem to hold back in their true opinions. Sometimes, this can lead to extreme cases, such as a secret I saw where a woman wrote that she had been raped- someone responded that she had deserved it… No one deserves to be raped, no matter the circumstances. Though the support on the app definitely outweighs the negative comments, rude individuals do still exist.

As a way to try to censor the app, one has the ability to “flag” a secret as inappropriate- meaning that it does not adhere to the community guidelines. The flagged secrets are reviewed and possibly removed by administrators on the app. However, there is a delay in the time that a secret is posted to the time that it is removed. Ironically, when many people comment/flag a secret, it becomes more “popular” on the app, causing it to come up closer to the top of the iPhone screen and becoming more visible to community members… I have unfortunately seen a number of genitals on this app, and that is not what Postsecret is about…

Those few issues aside, I am enjoying checking the Postsecret app and am entertained with the varied of topics that the secrets bring to my attention. I LOVED sharing my own secret as well. I wasn’t sure if I would share my secret on our discussion blog… but hey… what the hell. This is what my project is all about. Here’s one of my secrets everyone:

Within a few hours of sharing the existence of my blankies on the app, my secret received 6 hearts, and most importantly, I got the following response:

And suddenly, there with my blankies, I wasn’t alone. And THAT is what Postsecret is all about.

 


Attending a Postsecret Event!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Frank, the creator of Postsecret, speak at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Now, I do not mean to downplay how difficult it was to get a ticket to this event! Tickets were only available to Marquette students until the week before the event. Once tickets were available to the public, they needed to be picked up at the Marquette Student Union. I made a number of calls to the box office, but they were not allowed to hold any tickets before the event. I called everyday for a week, and as the number of available tickets decreased, I got more and more nervous. Finally, the day of the event arrived. After I found out there were only 11 tickets left, I skipped all of my classes in Madison, got in my car, and drove to Milwaukee- and I GOT THE LAST TICKET!!

I was thrilled. After killing a few hours at a nearby coffee shop, I decided to go to the event venue an hour early to see what was going on. To my surprise, people had already started to line up at the door! The people who were in line with me were obviously avid Postsecret fans. As I waited in line, I took advantage of the opportunity and asked those around me why they loved Postsecret, how long they had known about the site, and how they participated in the community. The girl infront of me in line had actually had her secret published on the Postsecret blog! She explained the thrill she felt the day it was posted, and how it had inspired her to share the secret with the person that it was about.

About ten minutes after I had gotten in line, FRANK ARRIVED! Since there were only about 10 people in line at the time, he shook all of our hands and thanked us for coming. I felt like I had met a celebrity! Frank has been called “The most trusted stranger in America” and he is just as friendly as I had assumed he would be. A father and son who were in line had driven from Chicago because they had been promised a ticket, but when they arrived, the event was sold out. Frank, after hearing this story, simply looked at the stage manager who he was standing next to, gave him a nod, and the stage manager handed the father and son two tickets out of his pocket. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Since I had a prime spot in line, I ended up getting the perfect spot in the auditorium- front and center! To my surprise, people around me were extremely friendly. It was clear that everyone was there for the same reason and the excitement was contagious. After a brief introduction, Frank came onto the stage. He shared the story of how the Postsecret project began and explained how it progressed from a community art project to a blog and how Frank eventually received his publishing deal. Next, Frank shared a number of secrets that had not been allowed in the Postsecret books (most were removed due to copyright laws). Throughout the event, Frank shared a number of stories- the one that stood out to me most was the story of one of the first secrets on the blog that received a large response. Frank had posted a secret that was written on a picture of a broken door (the secret was something about how the door had been broken by the individual’s mother when she was trying to get into the individual’s room to beat them). In response, Frank received picture after picture of broken doors from individuals who thought that they were alone with their secret. This story shows the power that Postsecret has to create an anonymous community of support.

At the last part of the event, Frank opened the floor for anyone to come up to a microphone in the auditorium aisle and share a secret with the group. The girl who was in front of me in line had shared a concern that since Marquette was such a small school, no one would want to share a secret at this part of the event. To our surprise, a line immediately formed at the microphone. Very personal secrets were shared by a number of students. They were so brave to open up to a room full of strangers in an honest and trusting way. The audience sat in support, clapping after every secret was shared.

On the Postsecret app, I shared the following secret on the day of the event:

When I checked back the next day, my secret had 16 “hearts” and the following 3 replies:

I had a huge smile on my face. The optimism and support I had experienced the night before was present in the responses to my secret. It was also present on the Facebook event page for the Postsecret event:

Frank says that everyone has two kinds of secrets- secrets we keep from others and secrets that we keep from ourselves. Frank says, “Free your secrets, and be who you are!”


Would you share your dirty little secret?

Hello! Tomorrow in discussion Jenny, Amy and I will be discussing the online communities we are participating in. My community, Postsecret, is an avenue to anonymously share a secret with those in the Postsecret community. My discussion question is:

Would you be willing to divulge a personal secret on the Internet? Why or why not?


What’s Postsecret??

The Postsecret community was started by Frank Warren. About 5 years ago, Frank passed out postcards to strangers and asked them to decorate the cards with a personal secret. Now, Frank receives thousands of postcards a week with various secrets. He has published three books of compilations of secrets and frequently travels to speak with university students about his project. Frank posts new secrets to his blog (postsecret.com) every Sunday. Additionally, there is a website (postsecretcommunity.com) where individuals can post on the discussion boards with questions or comments regarding the Postsecret website, their feelings regarding a postsecret, and respond to various topics brought up through the site. I have recently joined the postsecretcommunity.com blog and for my first blog post, I responded to the question, “Why do you love Postsecret?”

A few weeks age, Postsecret launched an iPhone app! This app allows individuals to post secrets straight from their iPhones. The secrets are categorized by popularity and by location (so by zooming into a map, I can check what secrets have been posted in Madison, WI). After reading someone’s secret, you have the opportunity to reply to the secret or to “heart” the secret, similar to “liking” something on Facebook. Below are a few of my favorite secrets from the app…

I plan to compare & contrast the way that individuals in the Postsecret community communicate with each other through the blog, discussion board, and iPhone app. I will also pay attention to Frank’s efforts to facilitate the community through his twitter and Facebook page devoted to Postsecret.