Three Can Keep a Secret if Two Are Dead

Three can keep a Secret if two are dead

No, I’m not planning mass murder of everyone I ever told a secret to.  I realised I’ve used that quote quite a lot recently talking to various friends and as always, I got curious as to where it really came from.

I then Googled it to find out it was a quote by Benjamin Franklin. I had always thought it was a Russian quote from the KGB or something.  I’ve used that quote for years now whenever someone asked me to keep a secret.

What brings it up in my conversations with friends?  I get asked a lot to keep secrets.

People like talking to me and sometimes things are said that they don’t want shared.  I’m not talking about secrets to save the world but things that people want to talk about without having to worry it will end up being passed around.

I don’t discuss anything that’s been asked by a friend to keep as a confidence.  That’s what a secret really is, something told to you in confidence that you can be trusted to not tell anyone else.

The words I think in connection with secrets are confidence and trust.  I’m confided in a lot, I keep the secrets and I can be trusted to keep them.

So why this post?  I haven’t had any secrets spilled but people asking me to keep secrets got me thinking.

In our world today, secrets can be spilled worldwide very quickly and easily.  Social Media can allows a secret to go viral in minutes if it catches peoples attention.  I doubt any of the secrets I know are that newsworthy but for the person who confided in me they have to trust that I won’t be the person passing on the information.

If you pass it to anyone, you have put your trust in the next person that they will keep the secret.  What if they pass it on to someone else who you don’t trust?  If you just tell one friend who tells one friend who tells one friend, how many people know that secret now?

I believe Benjamin Franklin said “three can keep a secret if two are dead” meaning that the only person you can trust with a secret is yourself. For myself, I use it to demonstrate that if I’m told a secret, I’ll keep it.  The only other person who will know about this secret will be the person who told me.

Are you a trusted person?  Do people confide in you?  What do you think of this quote?

Tania Shipman
Interested in Anything and Everything © 2009 – 2011

Image: basketman /