You can run but you can’t hide from your online persona

Longtime readers probably were familiar with this vague but singular Gravatar which accompanied all my blog posts and blog comments:

It’s a picture of the hickory tree in my back yard. The “MT” stands for Minnesota Transplant. Everything I wrote was “by Minnesota Transplant.”

That’s the persona I adopted in cyberspace. On WordPress and on Twitter, I was simply Minnesota Transplant. No one called me “Minnesota,” a la “Zombieland,” in the real world. Usually, when someone who knows me as “Monica” mentioned my name in a comment, I would delete or change my name to Minnesota Transplant. I don’t post pictures of me. I was hiding, to some extent, behind a mask (even on Twitter, I wore sunglasses in my Gravatar). I stand behind the opinions I espoused (mostly safe, Minnesota Nice sort of proclamations, unless I was talking about the Yankees or the Chicago White Sox), but I didn’t assign my real name to those mostly safe perspectives.

I wasn’t fooling anyone. If you know me, you know I love blogging and you probably read my blog occasionally just to be polite (or maybe you liked it — thank you much — or maybe you liked it because you know me) and you know very well that Minnesota Transplant = Monica Lee. And if you don’t know me, you probably couldn’t care less what my name is. And if you’re the stalker type who doesn’t know me but for some creepy reason cares what my real name is, you probably figured it out already.

About a year ago, I started another blog with my real name on the premise that if I become an author, there’s no point in hiding behind a pseudonym. Then I started a third blog about enjoying family photos. Since I’m attempting to build a business, my real name was on that blog, too. I was happy to lead parallel lives in cyberspace, but slowly, slowly, my real name started seeping into my virtual reality.

A month ago, I decided to self-publish my memoir. Of course, I’m quite proud of it, so I want to tell everyone about it.

Only half the virtual world doesn’t even know who “Monica Lee” is. How confusing. All these years of obscuring my identity, coming to a head. How inconvenient.

A few days ago, I changed my WordPress Gravatar. That’s really a picture of me, but I wasn’t really featured in a magazine; why be completely forthright, right? I made this cool profile photo on Photofunia. Check it out — you, too, can have your photo on a billboard or work of art.

Now my email subscribers are receiving blog posts written by “Monica Lee.” Who’s that? Well, it’s me, Minnesota Transplant, the former Minnesotan transplanted to a tiny suburb outside of Chicago.

This blog will continue to be my platform for writing about all things trivial and interesting to a former Minnesotan. But I shall claim authorship as Monica Lee.

Have I clarified who’s who and what’s what? Well, if not, you may proceed in your state of unaffected confusion — why mess with a good thing?

This is Minnesota Transplant, signing off.

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11 responses to “You can run but you can’t hide from your online persona

  1. I was wondering who that was in my bed???

  2. There was a moment of, “wait, what?” when I noticed the name on the new post emails. At first I just went with it, since it was obviously you (and not a guest author, for example), and then I noticed the picture of the book. “Ah, ha!” says I, she’s outting herself!

    So long “MT”, nice t’ meetcha, Monica! 🙂

  3. You’re like prince, or something. No,wait, you’re the opposite!

  4. 40 is the new 13

    Congrats on the new memoir. It looks fascinating. I’m glad to know you as Monica, and am very happy we’ve connected. I will be keeping up with you and, to be honest, I actually do feel it’s a bit more personal now that you have a face and a name!

    • Thanks, 40. I enjoy my blogging relationships so much. I will admit that I’ll have to work up to posting pictures of me from 1982, however!

  5. isiscambassassassassian

    Correct. You can’t send checks to a pseudonym!

  6. Actually . . . you can send checks to a pseudonym, if you know someone at the bank. It’s really easy. Lucy Ball (Lucille Ball, Lucy Arnaz, etc.) had not only several acceptable names for receiving checks, but also, several different recognized signatures for signing legal documents. It helps to be famous, btw.
    However, “Monica” is one of my favorite names and was the mother of Saint Augustine, originally, among others. And in my brain, I’d sunk to calling you “Mini” which just is not as nice.
    Monica — a great, great choice! 😉

  7. I have had the pleasure of knowing you as both MT and Monica Lee. Once I even “borrowed” your first name for an evening. (HG in San Antonio!) So glad everyone can know MONICA LEE now…and your memoir is FAB!!!!

  8. Thank you Monica for clearing my mind. I have often wondered why people who want to make a presence on the web would not say their real names. Then they spend many years building a name that is not theirs and soon they become popular but the world does not know who they really are; then they start wanting to make the world know who they really are and a lot of time is lost. I think we should let people know from day one who we are so that our presence grows with the years. I mean for people who want to make a presence; and I think many do. Thank you for everything you are doing, Monica. You are an inspiration to many.

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