It has now been revealed that Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend never existed. It all seems so confusing. Was Te’o the victim of a cruel hoax as he has said publicly, or was he somehow involved in perpetrating the hoax? And then the big question – why? I’m confused because I have yet to figure out who would benefit from the story of a star football player’s girlfriend who died from leukemia, but never existed.
This story quickly became a national phenomenon. As we hear more about this bizarre story we find ourselves perplexed and wondering why it happened and what was the motive.
Here’s what we’ve heard:
Manti Te’o talked about Lennay Kekua, who he said he met online and how much she meant to him.
Te’o’s father said that she had visited his son in Hawaii and he expected that the two would get married.
It was announced that Lennay died from leukemia, either hours before, soon after or days after his grandmother died. Why wouldn’t he remember the date the person he referred to as the “love” of his life died?
Te’o released a statement saying that he was the target of “what was apparentlysomeone’s sick joke and constant lies” and that this has all been “painful andhumiliating.”
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference last night and said that Te’o never actually met Lennay and that their relationship with only via the Internet and the phone. Notre Dame Officials hired a private investigator to look into the matter.
In October, a month after Lennay allegedly died, Sports Illustrated wrote that Te’o had a nightly ritual of falling asleep on the phone while talking to her and when he woke up his phone showed an 8-hour call between the two.
Teammates and friends describe Manti Te’o and a very trusting person.
That is what was known at the time of writing this blog, but the nature of this story leads me to believe that more will be coming out.
I find myself believing Manti Te’o one moment and then realizing that there are a few inconsistencies that make me think he must have been involved. But then I’m back the big question – why???
In my life, I have been the victim of girls/women who have pretended to like me, but I learned they were not sincere. I know what that feels like and it does happen. And I’m sure there are women who can talk about how a guy has done that to them, too.
I also think about how easy it is to use the Internet to deceive people in many ways, including emotionally, for their own amusement. Even if Te’o was involved, this story serves to remind us that much of what we see and read online is not true.
Through the years we have all come to respect the written word from newspapers, magazines and books, but the Internet offers a medium that invites reckless words and ideas. As a talk show host, I hear many callers support their arguments with information they found on the Internet and since it fits what they want to believe they present the information as ‘gospel’.
The Internet allows you to be your own editor and false facts and ridiculous theories are presented and accepted as the truth. And then I hear, “But I saw a video on YouTube!” It no longer takes a professional to produce any kind of video that can be uploaded to YouTube as an accurate video display of real life.
We don’t know whether Manti Te’o was the innocent victim of a hurtful hoax or if he was for some unknown reason involved in the hoax. But since this kind of deception on the Internet is a real possibility, maybe the first lesson we learn from this is that we should not believe everything we see or read online.
Audiences have some responsibility to accept entertainment as just that – entertainment.