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  • Hi, my name is Frank, and I collect secrets.

  • It all started with a crazy idea in November of 2004.

  • I printed up 3,000 self-addressed postcards, just like this.

  • They were blank on one side, and on the other side I listed some simple instructions.

  • I asked people to anonymously share an artful secret they'd never told anyone before.

  • And I handed out these postcards randomly on the streets of Washington, D.C., not knowing what to expect.

  • But soon the idea began spreading virally.

  • People began to buy their own postcards and make their own postcards.

  • I started receiving secrets in my home mailbox

  • not just with postmarks from Washington, D.C.,

  • but from Texas, California, Vancouver, New Zealand, Iraq

  • Soon my crazy idea didn't seem so crazy

  • PostSecret.com is the most visited advertisement-free blog in the world

  • And this is my postcard collection today

  • You can see my wife struggling to stack a brick of postcards on a pyramid of over a half-million secrets.

  • What I'd like to do now is share with you a very special handful of secrets from that collection

  • starting with this one.

  • I found these stamps as a child, and I have been waiting all my life to have someone to send them to. I never did have someone.

  • Secrets can take many forms

  • They can be shocking or silly or soulful

  • They can connect us to our deepest humanity or with people we'll never meet.

  • (Laughter)

  • Maybe one of you sent this one in. I don't know.

  • This one does a great job of demonstrating the creativity that people have when they make and mail me a postcard

  • This one obviously was made out of half a Starbucks cup with a stamp and my home address written on the other side.

  • Dear Birthmother, I have great parents. I've found love. I'm happy

  • Secrets can remind us of the countless human dramas

  • of frailty and heroism, playing out silently in the lives of people all around us even now

  • Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead

  • I used to work with a bunch of uptight religious people,

  • so sometimes I didn't wear panties, and just had a big smile and chuckled to myself

  • (Laughter)

  • This next one takes a little explanation before I share it with you

  • I love to speak on college campuses and share secrets and the stories with students

  • And sometimes afterwards I'll stick around and sign books and take photos with students

  • And this next postcard was made out of one of those photos

  • And I should also mention that, just like today

  • at that PostSecret event, I was using a wireless microphone

  • Your mic wasn't off during sound check. We all heard you pee (Laughter)

  • This was really embarrassing when it happened,

  • until I realized it couldn't been worse. Right. You know what I'm saying.

  • Inside this envelope is the ripped up remains of a suicide note I didn't use

  • I feel like the happiest person on Earth (now.)

  • One of these men is the father of my son. He pays me a lot to keep it a secret (Laughter)

  • That Saturday when you wondered where I was, well, I was getting your ring

  • It's in my pocket right now

  • I had this postcard posted on the PostSecret blog two years ago on Valentine's Day

  • It was the very bottom, the last secret in the long column.

  • And it hadn't been up for more than a couple hours before I received this exuberant email from the guy who mailed me this postcard

  • And he said,

  • Frank, I've got to share with you this story that just played out in my life,He said

  • My knees are still shaking

  • He said, For three years, my girlfriend and I, we've made it this Sunday morning ritual

  • to visit the PostSecret blog together and read the secrets out loud

  • I read some to her, she reads some to me

  • He says, It's really brought us closer together through the years.

  • And so when I discovered that you had posted my surprise proposal to my girlfriend at the very bottom,

  • I was beside myself

  • And I tried to act calm, not to give anything away

  • And just like every Sunday, we started reading the secrets out loud to each other

  • He said, But this time it seemed like it was taking her forever to get through each one.

  • But she finally did. She got to that bottom secret, his proposal to her

  • And he said, She read it once and then she read it again

  • And she turned to him and said, Is that our cat? (Laughter)

  • And when she saw him, he was down on one knee, he had the ring out.

  • He popped the question, she said yes. It was a very happy ending.

  • So I emailed him back and I said,

  • Please share with me an image, something that I can share with the whole PostSecret community and let everyone know your fairy tale ending

  • And he emailed me this picture.(Laughter)

  • I found your camera at Lollapalooza this summer

  • I finally got the pictures developed and I'd love to give them to you

  • This picture never got returned back to the people who lost it

  • but this secret has impacted many lives, starting with a student up in Canada named Matty

  • Matty was inspired by that secret to start his own website,

  • a website called IFoundYourCamera.

  • Matty invites people to mail him digital cameras that they've found

  • memory sticks that have been lost with orphan photos

  • And Matty takes the pictures off these cameras and posts them on his website every week

  • And people come to visit to see if they can identify a picture they've lost

  • or help somebody else get the photos back to them that they might be desperately searching for.

  • This one's my favorite. (Laughter)

  • Matty has found this ingenious way to leverage the kindness of strangers

  • And it might seem like a simple idea, and it is,

  • but the impact it can have on people's lives can be huge

  • Matty shared with me an emotional email he received from the mother in that picture.

  • That's me, my husband and son. The other pictures are of my very ill grandmother

  • Thank you for making your site.

  • These pictures mean more to me than you know

  • My son's birth is on this camera. He turns four tomorrow

  • Every picture that you see there and thousands of others have been returned back to the person who lost it --

  • sometimes crossing oceans, sometimes going through language barriers.

  • This is the last postcard I have to share with you today

  • When people I love leave voicemails on my phone I always save them in case they die tomorrow

  • and I have no other way of hearing their voice ever again

  • When I posted this secret, dozens of people sent voicemail messages from their phones,

  • sometimes ones they'd been keeping for years, messages from family or friends who had died

  • They said that by preserving those voices and sharing them,

  • it helped them keep the spirit of their loved ones alive.

  • One young girl posted the last message she ever heard from her grandmother.

  • Secrets can take many forms

  • They can be shocking or silly or soulful

  • They can connect us with our deepest humanity or with people we'll never meet again.

  • Voicemail recording: First saved voice message

  • Grandma:♫ It's somebody's birthday today ♫ ♫

  • Somebody's birthday today ♫ ♫

  • The candles are lighted ♫ ♫ on somebody's cake

  • And we're all invited ♫ ♫ for somebody's sake

  • You're 21 years old today

  • Have a real happy birthday, and I love you. I'll say bye for now.

  • FW: Thank you.(Applause)

  • June Cohen: Frank, that was beautiful, so touching.

  • Have you ever sent yourself a postcard? Have you ever sent in a secret to PostSecret?

  • I have one of my own secrets in every book

  • I think in some ways, the reason I started the project, even though I didn't know it at the time,

  • was because I was struggling with my own secrets.

  • And it was through crowd-sourcing, it was through the kindness that strangers were showing me,

  • that I could uncover parts of my past that were haunting me.

  • JC: And has anyone ever discovered which secret was yours in the book?

  • Has anyone in your life been able to tell?

  • FW: Sometimes I share that information, yeah.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

Hi, my name is Frank, and I collect secrets.

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【TED】Frank Warren: Half a million secrets (Half a million secrets | Frank Warren)

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    Anni posted on 2014/11/05
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