Some people call him "the most trusted stranger" in America and next Wednesday, Frank Warren will speak at Georgia Southern University.
Warren is creator of the PostSecret project blog and he will offer his presentation at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. The lecture is free and open to the Georgia Southern community and the public.
The lecture also will be simulcast to the Performing Arts Center Lecture Hall for overflow viewing. Following the lecture, Warren will sign copies of his popular books.
"I think that each one of us has a secret that could break your heart if you just knew what it was, and that understanding can not only give us a greater appreciation of who we are but more empathy and compassion for others," Warren, the founder of PostSecret.com, said in an interview Tuesday.
For the past four years, Warren has invited people all over the world to send him creatively decorated postcards bearing secrets they have never revealed. He has shared these PostSecrets on his blog, in an internationally traveling art exhibit, and in three bestselling books: "PostSecret, My Secret," "The Secret Lives of Men and Women," and "A Lifetime of Secrets."
Every month, more than seven million people visit the PostSecret website which has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
"I talk about secrets from my own life and secrets that have changed lives, the courage behind secrets, the venerability, and, really, more and more, I'm doing less talking and more listening to audience members and students who will stand up in front of strangers and classmates and talk about parts of their lives they never shared before," Warren said. "It's very meaningful for me."
A few month ago, Georgia Southern officials asked the students what they thought of bringing Warren.
"The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive," said assistant director of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement Jodi Middleton. "So, we did some more background work and found that what is now PostSecret.com started as a community art project."
That community art project was based on asking people around the world to anonymously send a secret on a decorated postcard. Since November 2004, Warren has received more than 400,000 postcards, with topics ranging from deep family secrets, criminal activity, secret habits and fears to funny reflections and hidden acts of kindness.
"I believe Frank Warren's message will really benefit the Georgia Southern community," said Middleton. "He will speak on the meaning of friendship and what it means to be a community, which I think are always valuable messages. I also think his message of having a healthy mental attitude and being comfortable in one's own skin will be beneficial for students. We want our Georgia Southern community to be as healthy as possible, so being reminded to be positive and do right is always a great message."
Warren considers PostSecret a safe and anonymous place where people can hear unheard voices and share untold stories. In his talk, he will discuss why he believes his blog is important and why he has made suicide awareness part of his life's work.
In 2009, Forbes listed Warren as the fourth most influential person on the Internet. Recently the PostSecret website received its 250 millionth hit and was named Weblog of the Year at the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards.
According to GSU Wellness Director Dr. Raymona Lawrence, Warren's event's usually fill up. To handle overflow from the PAC theater the event has reserved the Ballroom and the Lecture Hall. The event organizers are not sure all of the seats will fill up but, there will be enough room for almost 2,000 people to attend the event.
"We just wanted to make sure we had enough room for them if they came," Lawrence said.
The lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the University Wellness Program and the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement.