Our View: Te’o’s supposed dupe is an example for all
If the smackdown that the University of Alabama delivered to Notre Dame in this year’s BCS National Championship game didn’t crush Manti Te’o’s spirit, then his highly publicized fake online girlfriend has definitely added to his embarrassment.
If you somehow missed the story about the Heisman Trophy finalist being fooled into thinking he was in a relationship with someone who doesn’t exist, you probably don’t watch ESPN. Or read this paper.
Te’o, who led his team to the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings this past season, rode an emotional high following his grandmother’s and then presumedly “real” girlfriend’s deaths in the midst of the college football season.
This story alone brought a lot of attention and sympathy to Te’o, but no one could have predicted what would transpire four months later.
Te’o carried an online relationship with Lennay Kekua for months, exchanging more than 1,000 phone calls with a woman who wasn’t real. Te’o found out, hours after his grandmother’s passing on Sept. 12, that Kekua had died of cancer as well.
He says he was unaware of the hoax pulled on him up until Dec. 6, when he allegedly received a phone call from a woman with the voice he associated with Kekua when she was alive.
Te’o apparently grew suspicious and privately set up an investigation. Since news broke last week of the fake girlfriend, it has been a hot topic of conversation. Many people believe Te’o had set up the hoax in order to gain sympathy votes to win this year’s Heisman. Whether Te’o was in on the plan from the beginning, or if he just got “catfished,” it goes to show that this could happen to anybody. We all need to be careful with not only what we post online but also what we believe to be true.
Yes, we all know of the many different falsities and cyber crimes that appear on the Internet each day. But, just like most things in life, we never expect it to happen to us. This mentality gets supposed victims like Te’o and people on the show “Catfish” in trouble.
So what should be done? Should we put more restrictions on the Internet? Require everyone to be verified? Congress has been trying to regulate the Internet for years, but this is an arduous task. Not to metion, most people don’t want restrictions on the Internet.
The best thing to do is make logical decisions. We’re not saying people can’t find love on the Internet; just keep it in the back of your mind that, instead of the hot guy or girl you think you’ve been chatting with online, you could in fact be falling for a fat, old, bald man with a hairy back.
Get the person you are talking to prove they are real. Have them send you a picture with your name on it, or even better, actually meet them. The Internet is still the Wild West, and now even jocks have fake girlfriends.