Nine years ago, I created an anonymous Twitter account called “Made in Memphis” to talk about Memphis Grizzlies basketball. Three years ago today, after it became the most followed Grizzlies fan account in town, I told everyone who I was.
Today I say goodbye.
Looking back, Made In Memphis has been one of the most crucial parts of my identity for nearly half my life. When I started the account at 12, because my college friends were fed up with me live-tweeting Grizzlies games on my personal Twitter, I honestly believed no one would ever follow.
If I was lucky, I might have amassed a community of around 50 people to joke around with throughout the Grizzlies games. But even if I didn’t, I didn’t care. Because I was able to talk about what I liked with an audience, big or small, who wanted to listen.
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I also didn’t initially create the account with a plan to be anonymous. I chose the name “Made In Memphis” because of my initials, MM, and because it was true – I was made in Memphis. I think anyone born and raised in this city will understand what that means and how it really affects your identity. I chose Tony Allen as my profile picture because he embodied that Memphis pride – courage, heart, passion.
However, slowly, as I began to build cyber relationships with other Grizzlies fans and emerge as a voice in the local online sports space, I realized my anonymity had power. For the first time in my life, I was not looked down upon or questioned because of my gender or my age. People respected my sporting opinions – even sought them out!
As Made In Memphis’ followers grew by the day, Molly Morrison still struggled to feel welcome to talk sports with her classmates. The same people who liked my tweets rolled their eyes when I eagerly attempted to join their conversations.
The funny thing is, other than a few “men” here and there, my diction on Made In Memphis never really made it sound like I was a man – in fact, I’d say the spouting references in caps and pop culture did The opposite. But I was an anonymous sports account that people respected, so of course I had to be a man. It was never even questioned.
Women talking about sports online are opening themselves up to a world of surveillance and backlash that men will never face. It’s just a fact. And just because I’m tougher now and the rocks thrown at me have thickened my skin doesn’t mean it’s not something I still experience and see every day.
Last year, I saw a 15-year-old girl get bullied by Twitter for sharing her love for her team with thousands of people. The moment she exploded and was no longer protected by the circle of people she could trust, people attacked her.
When they disagree with you or feel threatened by you, they try to discredit you. Suddenly everything you do or say is reduced to how you look, what you wear, or why you don’t deserve to be in the position you’re in – even if it doesn’t. it’s just a silly comment about a basketball game. .
The summer after my freshman year of college was the first time the idea of telling people who I was crossed my mind. Watching every Grizzlies game from Indiana University, the school I attended at the time, became increasingly difficult and overwhelming, but I did it anyway because I wanted to. .
Meanwhile, my audience had no idea I was a struggling college student watching glitchy Grizzlies games on her laptop in her dorm room. They didn’t know because I didn’t let them. I put so much of myself into this story, but the most important part – my identity – was detached.
I confided my secret to a few men in the local media space and asked their opinion, to which I was told to keep it anonymous because “people will treat you differently if they think you’re a ‘girl. attractive'”.
Although those words may have delayed my decision for a few weeks, I am grateful every day that I did not listen to them.
So exactly three years ago I told an entire town that I practically fished them out.
for six years, and the love they have shown me since then is incredible.
I asked people who followed me not to treat me differently now that they knew I was a woman, because it didn’t change anything. And I can honestly say they didn’t.
Whenever someone following me on Twitter stops me on the street or on the FedExForum, it always catches me off guard. I don’t think that will ever be the case. For much of my life, I thought I was safer hiding part of my identity because of how people might treat me.
A few months ago at a Grizzlies game, a little girl in a Ja Morant jersey shyly approached me and told me I was one of her role models, and that’s the most significant thing that has happened to me since I told people who I was. If I was able to make just one young girl or woman feel empowered through the use of my account, it was worth it.
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I want every little girl who loves sports to know that she’s as believable and capable as any man.
Three years ago, I never could have imagined that my personal account would grow from 500 followers to almost 80,000 in the years following my revelation, nearly triple the followers of Made In Memphis.
While @MadeInMemphis1 is limited to Grizzlies content, @mollyhannahm discusses the entire league. Memphis might have embraced me, but a national audience is another story. As I grow, inevitably, the hate grows too. The difference now is that sexist comments don’t scare me anymore – I know they’re rooted in insecurity and don’t reflect me or my abilities.
To the City of Memphis: Thank you for treating me with respect — for treating me like family. Thank you for giving me the confidence to go away and fend for myself because I no longer need to tweet about the Grizzlies on Made In Memphis.
Don’t worry, I will continue to tweet about the Grizzlies as much as I always have. But this time, I will only do it under my own name, under my own face, with my own voice.