So, by now you’ve probably heard about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his Fake Dead Girlfriend.
I wish I was writing this post because I had some sort of answer or way of making sense of it, but I don’t. Like a lot of people, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the situation.
One thing I do know is that I don’t think there’s anything funny about any of it.
While it might feel like it all happened at once, what recently came to light as a hoax actually started years ago.
Basically, according to news reports, all we know (or think we know) about Manti Te’o's bizarre online romance is that:
These are just the main points; you can get more details at ABC’s Timeline of Manti Te’o Girlfriend Hoax Story.
We might learn more on Thursday, January 24, 2013; according to Katie Couric, Te’o and his parents will appear on the Katie Show.
In the meantime, public reaction to Te’o's situation has been varied, but leaning more toward the, well, cruel side. People quickly took to Twitter, posting pictures of themselves hugging or holding hands with “imaginary girlfriends,” and the meme culture blew up with spins on the popular memes like Bad Luck Brian.
This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
What I’m seeing here is “embarrassing,” “emotional relationship,” “authentic relationship,” and “care deeply.”
Let’s assume Te’o is telling the truth and wasn’t involved in the hoax (which, doesn’t seem like a far leap, given that there really doesn’t seem to be any motive for him to be involved).
By assuming that, what we’re witnessing is a human being who spent years cultivating a relationship with another person, developing real feelings for another person, losing that person, and now publicly dealing with the realization that the person never existed.
He’s dealing with a part of his life being a hoax.
What’s funny about that?
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From Psych Central's Alicia Sparks:
Online Dating: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Getting Hurt | Celebrity Psychings (January 25, 2013)
Last reviewed: 22 Jan 2013