On Wednesday I learned of a great new website www.postsecret.com. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Being the nosey Nancy Drew type, when my Oral and Interpersonal Communications instructor, Valerie Swartz, made mention of it, I had a visions of something mysterious and worthy of a 48 Hours Mystery Episode. Our class that day focused on self-disclosure. How much do you disclose to anyone in your life? How much is TOO much (to the point of making people uncomfortable or giving the perception that you are a few chips short of a bag)? How much is too little (to the point of being perceived as empty and less exciting than watching paint dry)? Many of us feel ok “putting it all out there” on social networks such as Facebook. There might be a false sense of security because we are not disclosing anything face to face. I always find it unsettling that technology has replaced flesh and blood interaction, and in some ways has turned up the narcissism volume a notch. Self-disclosure on a social network, via email or even via text is easier because we can be whoever we want to be; yet all of the non-verbal signals are missing. If we are unable to experience the reaction of the reader in person, we might miss cues that perhaps we are going to far with what we are disclosing. The reader also is missing those non-verbal signals that would accompany our words and perhaps alter the meaning of the message we intend to convey. On the other hand, there are those who choose to keep so much to them, that others never really get to know them. I have personal experience with this, as the significant other of a friend of mine chooses to self-disclose so little, that I am always left with an empty feeling after I interact with her. In fact, though I have known her for 6 months, I still don’t have a sense of who she really is.
In class, our instructor, Val, suddenly posed a question to us which most of us might not ever think of. She brought up a valid point that every single one of us has certain things that we might not feel comfortable disclosing to anyone, not even to our best friends, parents or spouses. The question was “What do you do when there is something you do not feel comfortable disclosing to anyone?” Obvious answer would be “Dear Diary…. I feel ashamed of my weight. Dear Diary, I spent a night in jail for shoplifting. Dear Diary, I purposely sabotaged a co-worker just for the simple reason that I don’t like her. Dear Diary, I DO have a favorite child. Dear Diary, I sometimes think I might be better off dead.” So we write in a journal, or we talk to ourselves in our head about it, but this might not be enough to get it off of our chest. What if you could say anything you wanted and put it out there into cyberspace, but do it completely anonymously? Well, you can. Frank Warren created a website, http://www.postsecret.com/, where anonymous secrets are posted in a creative manner. Anyone can mail their secret to Frank Warren on a postcard WITHOUT a return address, and he will post it on his website. The website shows creativity, sadness, insecurities and humor. Even if you did not want to send your secret to Frank, just reading them make us feel like maybe we are not so alone. When we write something in a journal or a diary, we likely think we are the only person who is feeling this certain thing, or the only person this is happening to. The Postsecret site gives us an opportunity to read what others are feeling or thinking, and perhaps makes us feel as if we are not so alone. If you submit a secret, it could be simply cathartic. However, it could also be rewarding to know that we might be helping others, who thought they were alone in their thoughts or experiences. I am very grateful to Valerie Swartz for sharing this with our class. She is a great instructor, but perhaps her best quality is her huge heart. Anyhow, check out the site. I think each one of us can find something worthwhile in it.
With that, though it’s not anonymous, I would like to leave you with my “secret” of the week:
Calamity Karrie is experiencing the seven plagues of broken appliances right now, just holding my breath and waiting for the locusts to arrive.