COLUMBIA — For a secret-keeper that everyone in the audience knew, Frank Warren introduces himself with an ironically obvious choice of words. "Hi. My name is Frank, and I record secrets."
Warren, the creator of the Post Secret blog — a Web site that posts photos of anonymous secrets sent in on postcards — spoke Thursday night at MU's Jesse Auditorium. The post cards Warren posts are often elaborately decorated and tell some intimate detail the mailer has never shared.
Warren created the blog four years ago this month, and it began with a personal connection to a complete stranger's story he read after asking others for their personal secrets. The man's secret experience of personal humiliation was one to which Warren said he could relate.
From this, Warren realized that so many people share the same secrets. He realized that by posting the secrets, he could connect people from all over the world who all seem to have one thing in common — a secret they've never told anyone.
Next, Warren created a web blog as a home to post the secrets for the world to see.
"It was a crazy idea, but you just have to believe in it," Warren said.
Over 1.5 million people visit the site each week, and 180 million people have been exposed to Post Secret across the globe, Warren said.
As part of his college campus tour, he discussed the most shocking, touching, and funny secrets he has received, and how each of them has touched him.
"I think we all have secrets — and we have the choice to bury them or to share them like gifts," Warren said as he began to display some of the secrets that were banned from publication in his books because of various copyright issues.
"Sometimes when we think we're keeping a secret, it's actually the secret that's keeping us," Warren said. After showing the unpublished secrets, Warren asked the audience if anyone had secrets they would like to share. Two long lines quickly formed.
"When I drink black coffee with sugar, my urine smells like buttered popcorn," an anonymous member of the audience shared as one of her secrets.
Another student shared the secret about the death of her close friend, "He promised me he wouldn't die on an operating table, and he did."
Warren's current favorite secret is one that he received a few hours before the presentation while unwrapping his dinner.
"I just found one on the inside of my Chipotle bag. It says, ‘I didn't spit in your food!' I think there should be a law that whenever you buy takeout they have to write that in your bag," Warren laughed.
Warren takes the photographs from each week and arranges them on a coffee table in his home. He then sees which secrets draw connections from each other, "My goal is to tell a different story each week."
Warren has been called "the most trusted stranger in America."
"I feel so fortunate that so many people feel like they can trust me, this stranger who they've never met with the parts of their lives they've never shared with anyone. I feel like that's a great honor."
"Each of us has a secret that could break your heart."
The fourth Post Secret book, "A Lifetime of Secrets," has recently been released and all books were sold at the event with a book signing following the event, which was hosted by MU MSA/GPC and Mizzou After Dark.
Warren said he includes one of his own secrets in each of his books. "You just have to find them," he said.
But, one secret he keeps to himself is the location of all of the postcards.
"That's one secret I can't tell," he said with a smile.