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Stigma, Secrets, and the Human Condition: Seeking to Remedy Alienation in PostSecret's Digitally Mediated Environment


Direct all correspondence to Naaman Wood, Tidewater Community College, Chesapeake, 1428 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322-7108; e-mail:


While digitally mediated environments have altered how human communication takes place, they do not necessarily alter the human condition of alienation. Applying key principles from Goffman's Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (1963), the popular blog PostSecret offers ways in which anonymous users attempt to remedy the alienations linked with the stigmatic act of secret keeping. Through imaginative, associative, and vicarious conversations, the blog purports to offer the unconditional acceptance necessary to remedy the alienations. Because of the complications of anonymity in the nonreal reality of the internet, the blog can offer only echoes of acceptance. Although some of the stigma literature argues that self-acceptance or assertions of power are the strongest solutions to stigma's negative effects, this article extends the stigma construct with the suggestion that vulnerability might be a viable option to remedy the attendant alienations correlated with stigma.

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