If you haven't heard of Mortified, it all began in 1990 when founder Dave Nadelberg found an old unsent love letter and shared it with friends. In 2002, he teamed up with Neil Katcher, formally formed Mortified and began sifting through thousands of people's forgotten diaries and photos in an attempt to "crack the lid off our cultural shoebox and expose our inner geek."
It's since become a cultural phenomenon, with chapters all around the world, where people offer to read excerpts from their adolescent journals to a larger theater and web audience. It's what they call a "comic excavation of "the strange and extraordinary things we created as kids."
Not only are the diaries shared on stage in front of a live audience, but also through a web series called the Mortified Shoebox Sessions, which act like little visual dioramas of people's teenage inner lives.
When I went in to interview Dave and Neil, I was probably more nervous than I'd ever been during an interview -- mainly because I knew that I would be reading personal, pretty "mortifying" entries to strangers... in closed quarters... where I couldn't escape. But what ended up happening was pretty interesting.
After we chatted and I leafed through journals that I hadn't picked up in years, I had a sense of nostalgia and curiosity. I wanted to go back home and look through other journals to see what I could uncover, and what I had forgotten. In essence, it gave me a sense of ownership -- of myself -- as in "owning up." It was pretty liberating, and I could only imagine it's doing the same for many people all over the world.
PS: I became so wrapped up in the Mortified process that I may actually take part in a stage version where I'll uncover more crazy stuff. It should be nothing less than mortifying -- and fun. I'll let you guys know if and when it happens.