One of the oddest stories in some time turned into a public embarassment for one of the top players in college football this year. Notre Dame's Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o publicly acknowledged he was the victim of an embarassing online hoax. Read the Deadspin.com article about the convoluted facts that had the sports world tinking Te'o had a girlfriend who tragically died of leukemia at the start of this past college football season.
No one can claim to fully understand what happened that brought Te'o what he described as great public humiliation. Deadspin tracked Twitter, Facebook, Google and Nexis accounts of various pieces of this story. They connected the possible source to a friend of Te'o. They raise questions about whether the star player knew it was a hoax and may have been complicit in extending it publicly.
As facts get fully sorted and if we do assume Te'o was a victim then it's important to take a broad picture view of the online world of fictitious relationships. Anyone who has sent a Tweet or posted on Facebook to someone they've never met in person or perhaps knew in a past part of their life can relate to the potential for a fabricated fiction in one's mind of the importance of the online interaction.
It is not always what the person on the other end is saying or feeling that creates the problem. It can be the one's own thoughts and wishes that improperly create something where there is nothing. Te'o seems to embody a celebrity famous athlete who was searching for something else in life. He found the connection with a Twitter handle, a photo and a voice on a phone. It is frightening the level of damage that could be done to someone emotionally, financially or socially in such a case.
Certainly there are genuine interactions from well intentioned people that fill the world of online communication. This story sends up red flares that somewhere out there there are people willing to go to great lengths to create a charade that is nothing more than a modern day con man utilizing the current tools of the trade.
Any questions or comment please forward them to
. I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on CNYcentral.com.
The opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and are not reflective of the views or opinons of the station or Barrington Broadcasting.