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Postsecret strikes again
October 8, 2007 1:52 AM   Subscribe

The ability of Postsecret to reach out and touch everyday lives has not waned with its increased popularity and reknown. "I feel the same way. I often wonder why I even have a phone because I rarely receive calls." Then he offered a metaphorical ear. "If there was a way we could contact each other, that would be cool. My phone number is 605-212-7787."


Within the first couple of days, Paulson received 250 calls, so many that his voicemail told countless other callers that it could accept no more messages.

He has talked to people in almost every state, along with calls from Colombia, Scotland, England and Australia. He's talked with soldiers stationed in Iraq.

Paulson spoke for more than two hours with cousins conducting a conference call from North Carolina and Georgia. He spoke to a 45-year-old nontraditional student who shares his interest in art. He talked with a woman who had just put her children to bed.


It seems that every where you go, Post Secret is getting media attention, to the extent that it almost seems like they're selling out, what with the youtube videos and the Book tour and everything. But at the end of the day, it's still about letting your vulnerable side show to maybe, just maybe, find a compassionate soul. And if the $75,000 they donated towards suicide prevention organizations is any indication, there is a lot of compassion to go around yet. Can we set aside the snark for a minute and say that Frank Warren is bloody brilliant? TYVM.
posted by Phire (58 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm conflicted about PostSecret. It seems that the secrets reveal us to be either caring, vulnerable Buddhas or vile psychopaths. Theres rarely any middle-ground in their secrets --- maybe thats why they're secret?

My secret: I'm troubled by the fact that, should it be announced that I died today, I would get maybe 100 "moments of silence" here on this goofy fake internet community from people I don't even know, while my real-life neighbors probably wouldn't give two shits unless I happened to expire in their azaleas.

Buddha or psycho? You decide.
posted by Avenger at 2:18 AM on October 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Personally, I think the kid with the phone doesn't know how lucky he is. Just wait till he's a little bit older, with a wife and a couple of teenage kids and a demanding job. At that point, he'll have a land-line and a cell phone. Both will ring continuously. The best outcome will be that it isn't for you, and that you've just been disturbed unnecessarily. The more likely thing is that it *will* be for you, and it will be somebody wanting something that you should have done yesterday. And while you're having that conversation on your landline, your cell phone will ring, and it will be somebody else wanting something else from you.

And don't think this is limited to working hours. Today, people expect to be able to get hold of you any time they feel like it. What do you mean by turning your cellphone off? I need to be able to contact you, dude. I left a message, why didn't you get back to me?

The only thing worse than phones is email, through which complete strangers feel able to send you messages making yet more demands on your time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:41 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


wow. that's very sweet and sentimental ;)

if i knew how international codes worked, i might leave my cellphone myself! :)
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 2:42 AM on October 8, 2007


/derail slight

2nding what Peter said.

you spend the early years wishing your mobile would ring , then later years hoping it wont.

PostSecret - interesting diversion sometimes , but i think it appeals to the more dramatic in people.
posted by burr1545 at 2:53 AM on October 8, 2007


Also: I post a dot, but I don't *really* care.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:03 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


If i knew how international codes worked, i might leave my cellphone myself!

www.countrycallingcodes.com
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:31 AM on October 8, 2007


I don't spend much time there, to be honest. I like this bit:

The PostSecret website is the largest advertisement-free Blog on the web.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:37 AM on October 8, 2007


I've always feel a little off about postsecret as well, though I kind of think I'm an asshole for not liking it.

It's also off putting that the creator calls it a community art project but keeps all the copyrights to himself.
posted by afu at 3:41 AM on October 8, 2007


"but keeps all the copyrights to himself"

well, yes, but if you want to have any sort of control or protection over something, you can't really copyright it "in the name of everyone that has submitted to post secret"

given that donation to charity, well, i can't help but feel good about the guy.

changed my mind about posting my phone number, though. 250 calls in a couple days is a little too much human interaction. makes me think, though, how often we go without human contact in a meaningful sense. even touch, a little hug or squeeze. ah, i'm going all soppy! heh :)
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:00 AM on October 8, 2007


The PostSecret website is the largest advertisement-free Blog on the web.

I use two ad blockers (ad muncher and adblock plus) but I could still count four advertisements for his book on the front page.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:16 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Paulson, unknowingly, tapped into fears that many of us share: that in a busy, crammed-full life, no one remembers us; that our answering machines never flash because we simply don't matter to anyone; that in an era when communication with others is easier than ever before, we are communicating less and less.
Gawd, I hate that kind of writing. The writer has no data to back up her assertions, she's just making crap up to fill out the story.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 AM on October 8, 2007


It can be a lonely feeling when the phone doesn't ring.

Get a fucking life.
posted by c13 at 4:33 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like this. In my creative writing class the teacher had us all jot down simple secrets about ourselves which he then read to the whole class. (All anonymous, of course.) There were only thirty people in the class, but at least five of the notes were about being lonely/not having any friends. And this was a group of young, attractive second- and third-year students.
Can we set aside the snark for a minute
Sounds like a good tagline for MeFi.
posted by hjo3 at 4:55 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Way to "set aside the snark for a minute" there, c13.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:00 AM on October 8, 2007


PeterMcDermott is right!

also put very succinctly by c13.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:02 AM on October 8, 2007


I know I'll get slaughtered for this, but I can't help feeling like PostSecret is celebfilter for the self-consciously earnest. Your story can become famous while you remain anonymous. Why be so quick to devalue your own private narrative for the sake of some (possible) public validation?
posted by maryh at 5:13 AM on October 8, 2007


It's just one big advert for the their book, is all.
posted by triv at 5:26 AM on October 8, 2007


If money cured suicides, we wouldn't have such an epidemic. I'd call nitwittery, but I'm pretty sure there's a "no ad hominem' rule.
posted by avriette at 5:43 AM on October 8, 2007


triv: the postcards came first; the books came about after the website had a massive following.
posted by divabat at 6:19 AM on October 8, 2007




Way to "set aside the snark for a minute" there, c13.


Why should a post about some attention whore with low self esteem be treated with any more reverence than any other post here?

Sometimes when no one is looking, I like to lick bricks. I'm so unique and special. Love me, fill me, make me whole. Because if you don't, I'm gonna drink that whole bottle of toilet cleaner, and you'll be very sorry, buster!
posted by c13 at 6:19 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The more likely thing is that it *will* be for you, and it will be somebody wanting something that you should have done yesterday. And while you're having that conversation on your landline, your cell phone will ring, and it will be somebody else wanting something else from you.

And don't think this is limited to working hours. Today, people expect to be able to get hold of you any time they feel like it. What do you mean by turning your cellphone off? I need to be able to contact you, dude. I left a message, why didn't you get back to me?


This is only as true as you choose for it to be. My job is over at 5:00 and nobody calls me about anything afterwards, nor do I have to check my work email after that. I don't own a cell phone and don't have any plans to get one. I'm married with a house and car. Two nights a week I play boardgames with friends and the other nights are my own to do as I please.

I don't make as much money as some of my other friends, and my job isn't anythign to brag about to others, but having a job instead of a career meant I could also choose a life.
posted by Legomancer at 6:21 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm always amazed at the ability of MetaFilter members to find malice in even the most altruistic gestures.
posted by ColdChef at 6:25 AM on October 8, 2007 [15 favorites]


That was funny, XQUZYPHYR.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:54 AM on October 8, 2007


I'm always amazed at the ability of MetaFilter members the human race to find malice in even the most altruistic gestures.

And every day, we must strive forward to push that feeling of malice and animosity backwards. Hug someone today. Booyah!
posted by cavalier at 6:55 AM on October 8, 2007


nice: you tell your lousy secret and then have no penance, no one to answer to, no one to apologize to...save money on therapy and religious donations. Quick and easy Confession. Of more interst than the confession is the sort of person who likes to read what othres have concealed or done.
posted by Postroad at 7:02 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are ads for Del.icio.us, Digg, Windows(?), Yahoo, and bloglines on there.
posted by delmoi at 7:16 AM on October 8, 2007


I'm always amazed at the ability of MetaFilter members to find malice in even the most altruistic gestures.

I'm more amazed by our collective ability to make everything an ad for something.

For example, I count at least four advertisements in the sentence I quoted.
posted by sparkletone at 7:18 AM on October 8, 2007


Why be so quick to devalue your own private narrative for the sake of some (possible) public validation?

Could you elaborate? How does sending a postcard to PostSecret "devalue" your narrative?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:39 AM on October 8, 2007


What ColdChef said.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2007


hmmmm ... i wonder if it had gotten more media attention, derek powazek's fray and kvetch (completely defunct) might have lasted longer. i loved those sites. i don't know anything about frank warren except from this post, but and i thought then and i think now that powazek is brilliant.
posted by msconduct at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2007


Of more interst than the confession is the sort of person who likes to read what othres have concealed or done.

That's why it's hard for me to see this as something genuinely altruistic. It's more like a risk-free form of reality TV. The exhibitionists get to shock, without running any risk of consequences, while the voyeurs get to watch without really having to acknowledge the train wrecks.

Also: if that book doesn't make a fortune, I'll eat my cellphone. And purge it again.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:45 AM on October 8, 2007


Also: if that book doesn't make a fortune, I'll eat my cellphone

I'd have to check, but I'm pretty sure much of the money from at least the first was donated to a suicide prevention hotline.
posted by drezdn at 7:50 AM on October 8, 2007


Thirding ColdChef. There are certainly all sorts of important social issues to discuss concerning the ubiquity of easy electronic communication in this society, but "tut tut, he's going to wish that were different in the future" seems to be missing the point of the article. It's hardly a foregone conclusion that he'll have the phone ringing off the hook in ten years.

As far as the "get a life" sentiments are concerned... if anything, his behavior here was proactive, an attempt to take control of something that was bothering him and change it. In the process, he made himself and some other people feel better. What's wrong with that? This isn't some loser who was sitting around with a sense of entitlement, waiting for the world to change to accommodate him.
posted by Kosh at 8:16 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The secrets on that site bore me stiff. The stakes are so low, and anyone can make up anything. Come on, at least tell me a good story so I can suspend my disbelief...
posted by hermitosis at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2007


Been done before -- earlier this year Ryan Fitzgerald posted a video on YouTube, revealing his telephone number. "I'm Here For Everyone! Give Me A Call!! 774.253.1962." 15-minutes of fame followed.
posted by ericb at 8:23 AM on October 8, 2007


Within the first couple of days, Paulson received 250 calls...

Pfft. Amateur. Ryan Fitzgerald received more than 5,000 calls and text messages in the first couple of days and was getting close to 10,000 per afternoon after appearing on CNN, MSNBC, the TODAY show, etc.
posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on October 8, 2007


...unless I happened to expire in their azaleas.

Hey, dipshit. Get offa our lawn! Didn't you hear me?
posted by ericb at 8:34 AM on October 8, 2007


Been done before -- earlier this year Ryan Fitzgerald posted a video on YouTube

You're about 27 years too late, Ryan and Frank.
posted by dobbs at 8:35 AM on October 8, 2007


Lest we forget all of the people who called Jenny? Because her number was on the wall? And they wanted to have a good time?

(If I recall, it was 867-5309 that prompted studios to start using the 555 prefix in movie & tv dialogue. If you watch stuff made prior to 1983 or so, they always used to say working numbers.)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:38 AM on October 8, 2007


I'm always amazed at the ability of MetaFilter members to find malice in even the most altruistic gestures.

Count me amongst the cynical. I clicked the "more inside" sure it would turn out that the noble "call me!" guy had actually put someone else's number on the postcard.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:51 AM on October 8, 2007


A bit earlier than that, miss lynnster:

The phone companies started encouraging the producers of television shows and movies to use the 555 prefix for fictional telephone numbers, roughly during the 1970s. One of the earliest uses of a 555 number can be seen in A Patch of Blue (1965), with 555-2368. In older television shows from the 1950s or 1960s, "KLondike 5" or "KLamath 5" was used, as at the time the telephone exchanges used letters.
posted by mediareport at 8:55 AM on October 8, 2007


Cecil Adams was writing about the 555 prefix in 1978, too.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2007


Postsecret is one of the many blogs-turned-empire that makes me bang my head on the desk and scream WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS FIRST??
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Peter McD, that middle-aged guy needs to have polite but firm convos with various people about boundaries.

My boss/clients/etc if he/she/they gave me grief about needing to contact me for a "work emergency," would evoke a polite but firm discussion about the nature of the concept "emergency," and if I wound up job-hunting after that, it'd be more his loss than mine. (Full disclosure: My job does not involve "emergencies" more serious than "next business day, tell me why this didn't work" stuff -- no flames, no detonations, no blood.)

Wife and kids would get a somewhat less deferential though still civil throw-down if I got grief about disabling the cell.

I'm paying for the cell phone for MY convenience, dammit! People who actually give a rat's @$$ about me tend to respect that.
posted by pax digita at 10:23 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I cannot imagine wanting phone calls from strangers. I don't even want phone calls from some of my friends! But I still like Postsecret.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2007


miss lynnster: "(If I recall, it was 867-5309 that prompted studios to start using the 555 prefix in movie & tv dialogue. If you watch stuff made prior to 1983 or so, they always used to say working numbers.)"

Nope. KL5 and 555 numbers were used as far back as the 1950s.
posted by Plutor at 11:47 AM on October 8, 2007


Mike Jones did it better.
posted by thatswherebatslive at 12:25 PM on October 8, 2007


There’s also the more literary One Sentence, which was on MetaFilter last year.
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2007


Hmm, and a new Post Secret book is coming out tomorrow? Fishy. That's the third book in the last year.

I do enjoy Post Secret, but touting the largest unadvertised blog while churning the books out.

It's odd because I genuinely do enjoy the project and appreciated the charitable efforts. Something about the fast pace of release (in smaller books too, although I think the new one is as big as the first) just rubs me the wrong way.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:19 PM on October 8, 2007


Love me, fill me, make me whole.

With a bucket of cocks?
posted by oaf at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2007


It rubs me the wrong way that the site doesn't make its archives available. I'm pretty sure they were accessible when the site started but disappeared when the first book deal went down, as though they were concerned the book wouldn't sell if the content was still online for free. For a community art project that attitude strikes me as sort of gross.
posted by nobody at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Postsecret is bullshit. The postcards seem to all be done in the same creative style; I have long suspected that there are a group of four or five artists doing all of them, while the ones that arrive in the mail are unceremoniously dumped in the trash like the miracle blue cloths of righteousness sent to Robert Tilton that ended up in dumpsters.
posted by jayder at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


The postcards seem to all be done in the same creative style...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that.
posted by Avenger at 6:35 PM on October 8, 2007


Even if Postsecret is total bullshit, at least it brought the idea of anonymouse confessional (not new, just less known) to the forefront. LJSecret, for example, is the real thing and wouldn't exist were it not for PostSecret, and I dare say LJS has helped quite a few, if the secrets every once in a while thanking the kind commenters are any indication.
posted by Phire at 7:19 PM on October 8, 2007


I said "if I recall"... because I wasn't 100% sure. So point noted. But now you all have 867-5309 stuck in your heads. So there.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2007


I like FOUND better than Postsecret, because those who created the FOUND items never intended them for publication. (Ha, and this one, I notice on preview, was found and submitted by my work colleague Josh Fruhlinger.)
posted by kenlayne at 8:37 PM on October 8, 2007


I quite like Found, too. I own the second book, and I've had it for over a year now and I'm STILL not entirely through with it. It's the kind of book you pick up when you're bored, read a few pages of, chuckle, then put down again. S'great serendipity.
posted by Phire at 8:58 PM on October 8, 2007


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