I got a message from Marilyn Monroe

I picked up a new follower on one of my social networks the other day. Marilyn Monroe.

Henry David Thoreau...also followed me. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

Henry David Thoreau…also followed me. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

Not THE Marilyn Monroe, of course. Any more than I was followed by Henry David Thoreau, who joined the list next day.

They were fans – and, as a writer myself, I’m an enthusiast for anything that spreads the word about great writers like Thoreau. More please!

Still, I think it’s safe to say the real Marilyn Monroe isn’t out there on Twitter.

It’s always puzzled me that some people pretend to be celebrites. None of this is new – social networking merely makes it easier. Is it dragging on the coat-tails of fame? Sharing the emotion and pleasure they feel by consuming the work of the celebrity? Expressing a need to identify with someone other than themselves? Winding others up? Or all of the above?

That’s why we often see “Official” tagged to Twitter accounts of the real celebrities.

It begs questions about online identities. For myself, I use my real name. It’s a common popular name, so I add my initials and a “New Zealand” (‘NZ’) qualifier online. The letter “J” is another popular one to start middle names with, I find, but hey, my middle name’s also mine – and, coincidentally, I discover has been in the family since the early 1800s, at least.

I’m a bit worried another Matthew Wright might do something heinous, like dressing up as an Oompa Loompa in Norwich, for instance, and I’ll get besmirched.

But I wouldn’t use a pseudonym – still less pretend to be anybody famous. Maybe they might pretend to be me…maybe…

I think the phenomenon tells us a good deal about people. Thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

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10 comments on “I got a message from Marilyn Monroe

  1. jjspina says:

    I think your name is perfect for an author – easy to remember and to spell. My name seems easy but many people misspell my first name and mispronounce my second. Oh well! I never even thought about using anything but my own. I have nothing to hide and want people to get to know the real me. If they care to! Lol!

    • It never occurred to me to use a pseudonym either… but it gets awkward having a popular name. You’ve got the advantage of distinction with yours! Here in NZ there is another Matthew Wright who writes books on railways (as I do). Google mixed me up with a Matthew Wright who lectures at the University of Essex – they credited him with all my books after they scanned my books (without my permission) for the Google Books programme. And there’s a Matthew Wright who presents a controversial British TV show – who I’m also confused with at times, it seems. Sigh…

  2. “Burkhalter” is pretty Teutonic, and most people my age remember the big fat general on Hogan’s Heroes (“Shut up, Klink!” “Jawohl, General Burkhalter.”) Besides, it’s enough trouble just being me, and it’s what I know best. Guess I’ll stick with it!

  3. S. Thomas Summers = Scott Thomas Summers = Scott T. Summers = Scott Summers = me. I am S. Thomas Summers and S. Thomas Summers means me.

    • It’s often handy to be able to run combinations of your own name. I used “M J Wright” for this blog because (a) my name is my brand, and (b) there were already Matthew Wrights out there in blog-land. Of course, there are also M J Wrights, but I think it’s *slightly* less common.

  4. Imelda Evans says:

    Well we know who you are, Matthew, and apparently so does Marilyn Monroe! I partly chose to use my own name because it IS distinctive – at least in Australian circles. Imelda is a more common first name in spanish-speaking circles, I believe, but in that case, it wouldn’t be combined with Evans, at least not usually! Sorry I’ve been a bit absent of late, but hope you had a lovely Christmas and all the best for 2014.

    • Hi – good to hear from you, and thanks for your kind wishes. A distinctive name is definitely a plus when it comes to writing! It’s really the author’s brand, and distinction works.

  5. bevrobitai says:

    I couldn’t be bothered using a proper pen-name with all the tedious explanations of ‘oh, I write books as Florinda de Smythe but I’m really just Jane Smith’. But I did modify my surname, acquired by marriage to a French Canadian, from Robitaille to Robitai to make it easier for customers asking for my books in libraries and bookshops. And it’ll be so much more convenient when all those author interviews start and I won’t have to correct the interviewer’s pronunciation. ‘It’s Robitaille, not Robbytally.’ (See how far ahead I’m thinking!)
    Either way, I still come out as me on Google searches so at least I’m easy to find!

    • It’s being unique on Google that counts these days, I suspect! And there won’t be too many other Bev Robitailles or Robitais here in New Zealand either way. Unlike Matthew Wright (the Greymouth railway book writer), Matthew Wright (the Auckland poet who blogs), Matthew Wright (the banker who tweets) or the “other other” Matthew Wright (me), among 42 others on the electoral roll…42? Oh yes. I rang up the Chief Electoral Officer and asked.

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