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It’s the fourth of July 2019. And I just got through spending the day, surrounded by people who love me, my friends, my family, and now sitting on the beach in the middle of the night, listening to the waves, this is perfect for me. This is what life should be. Life should be moments of sheer happiness, surrounded by those who love you.
My friends know a lot about me, but not all of them know about this puzzle. So, today is one of a couple of barbecues I attended. I talked to some of my friends about it. And I showed them the website, I showed them the Facebook pages, I showed them the podcast. And they were you know, like most people, pretty intrigued. A bunch of them joined today. So welcome friends to the secret podcast, inserted Taryn through some of the pages and I noticed some harsh comments by people. And they asked me what the community was like. They asked me if it was supportive if it was friendly. Because to them, an outsider looking at it, it didn’t really appear that way. I told them, there’s, you know, there’s good people. There’s bad people, all kinds of people. I thought about it for a while, all day, I thought about what they said. And it occurred to me that we spend so much time on this hunt. We spend so much time sitting online just talking to each other. We don’t really know who everyone is. We see screen names, we see profile pictures, and we recognize them. We don’t we don’t know who that person is. We don’t know what they do. They don’t know what they love. We don’t know what their life’s like, we don’t know what they’re going through. We don’t know what they’re gonna go through. We just we don’t know. Sometimes online, we treat each other in a way we wouldn’t. In person
you know, the internet’s weird. Social media is weird. We live our lives, doing things that, you know, affect us, we think our our lives revolve around us. And that’s okay. You know, we work to support ourselves. We do the things that make us happy we surround ourselves with the people that make us happy. And sometimes we think the internet is the same way. You know, you see, you see weird comments on Facebook all the time where someone says, you know, if you don’t like what I say get off my Facebook. Like, it’s, it’s not your Facebook. Facebook’s a global community. It’s it’s a hodgepodge of people. We all get together and interact on a global scale. And that’s something we should keep in mind. We see the same profile pictures every day, we see the same names every day, we begin to recognize them. We begin to interact with them, but sometimes we forget. Sometimes we forget that there’s a person on the other side of that profile picture, a person just like you who has the same struggles and the same hopes and the same dreams.
We forget that they have emotions and they have feelings. We think this is my Facebook. I can say whatever I want to whoever I want, I can make people feel You’ll however I want them to.
Because I don’t know that person says the profile picture. It’s just the name I thought it might be helpful for you to know who I am. And why. Why I love this on so much. My name is George Ward. I’m a single father. I got a nine year old son. He’s never been without me. I have sole custody, as always lived with me. I have a beautiful fiancee. Her name is Rachel. She has a daughter named destiny. She just turned 17 yesterday. It’s crazy. I’m a 17 year old stepdaughter. It’s so weird. I’m essentially an office manager. People come into my life every day. asked me questions. I ask them questions we interact. Generally I give them a check and they go away. I ever see him again. I’m a firefighter. And I’ve been a firefighter my entire life. Growing up. My mother was a firefighter paramedic. She works in an ambulance. She ended up the fire coordinator for our county retired several years ago. My father was a firefighter and EMT. It’s It’s a service that I’ve always loved. I serve on several boards for different fire departments. And I know I’ve always felt like I’ve always felt the calling to give back to my community. It sounds cheesy or whatever, but it’s true. I feel like volunteer work and charitable work like that. It’s good for the soul. Maybe? I don’t know. I have a dog. His name is fat. Elvis is an English bulldog. He never leaves my side. He snores a lot. You probably hear him in the background of some podcasts. I grew up loving puzzles, puzzles of all kinds. And I made a few of them. I made a few treasure hunts and complicated word and math puzzles throughout the years. I found the secret like 10 years ago and I never looked back. It seemed fun to me and the community was amazing. The community then basically consisted of two message boards quest for treasure and then another one that’s a little more private. The community was amazing. They were all helpful. They were all kind to each other. I made a lot of friends. That’s where I met John. TJ, Matt, Chris, the other John. I met some some lifelong friends through that. And two I am my my my my old co host. He’s a sound engineer. He tours with rock bands. Brett is in sales, Bradley’s in sales. The other Johnson’s everybody’s in sales, people solving.
We’re all people. We all have hopes we all have dreams. We all have feelings.
This podcast was built around a group of friends. Chris, Matt, Mark, Brian, Andy. Even Brett John me, TJ, Justin, friends. Friends who care about each other. It was built for a couple of reasons. Number one, when we were all working together, you know, two or three years ago, the community was kind of small. But it was it was close knit. There wasn’t much arguing there was there was a lot of disagreement, but everyone respected everyone else for the most part. But information was sort of scattered. So we thought, hey, why don’t we create a way for the information to be easily digested? And you know, our first idea was create a website and just sort of have a rundown of all information available for each city. And then the more we wanted to do with the website, the more we realized that A podcast might be better. So we pick a city, we give all information that we currently have on that city. And we let people make up their minds. We let people go on there in their own direction with the current information. But also, we wanted to build a community for the wider audience that we knew was coming. We wanted to build a larger group of people to solve this puzzle. So he turned to Facebook, and created a bunch of Facebook pages. And an effort to, I don’t know, build a huge, just gigantic team of people to work on these puzzles together. We figured his puzzles are hard. It’s difficult for just one person to figure it out. What will be best is almost crowdsourcing it, give it to 1000. People see what they come up with.
And, and that works really well. Until it didn’t, there began to be a lot of fighting. A year and a half, two years ago, fighting that the community had never seen before. I mean, there were arguments, sure, but everybody was sort of respectful of one another.
There was fighting, and there was I don’t know, people, it became not so much about solving the puzzle as it was to be the best to be the person that that solved the puzzle that no one else could solve. It. People started hoarding information, and lying, cheating each other out of information. It was the exact opposite of what I think the creators would have wanted this puzzle to be. We had this idea that the puzzle was created by Byron and by Byron spreads none as a way of making money. But just as a fun project, like seriously, who doesn’t want to get together with their friends, and publish a treasure hunt? That sounds like an awesome project. Like oh, we need some. We need some paintings. I know this awesome dude in in Ohio, who makes awesome fantasy paintings. Oh, I need these dolls. And these casts made i i know this amazing artist who? Who makes dolls and works with clay and I need some pictures taken. I grew up with this photographer. Like who doesn’t want to do that. We thought that because the puzzle was made that way. A group of friends making something cool. It would be awesome if we could get a huge group of friends to solve it.
Maybe that was just dumb. But I still believe that there’s been so much drama lately. Everybody argues with everybody else. People call each other stupid. And, and the power grabs are crazy. The egos are out of this world.
TV, newspaper articles, podcasts. None of that really helps. I guess. Everybody wants to be on top. But what’s the top? You know? What’s your goal? Your goal to solve a puzzle. solve a puzzle is your goal to be on TV. This is probably not the best way to get on TV. People people get in their own heads. And they forget that that they’re interacting with a group as a whole, that they’re interacting with other people. They forget that those people have feelings and they say mean hurtful things. Or they don’t care and they’re just out for themselves. They just want to make a buck or they you know want to be seen as the person who could solve a puzzle no one else could solve they want to be the hero or or sometimes the villain events have happened recently that made me stop and try to remember why I got into this made me stop and think about what was actually important is being the best important no I never really thought that I hope you don’t think that either. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a cask
but but I think I found something more valuable I think I found friends I think I found a community help you have to just try to remember when you’re interacting with each other You’re not just interacting with profile pictures you’re interacting with people
people just like you remember that this is a hobby this is for fun it’s not your life this puzzle does not define you be kind to one another
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