The 15 minutes of notice that should have been devoted to the Manti Te'o story has well expired and our collective heads should have already turned to the latest Kardashian pregnancy or sex video tape (or both, in their case.). However, I woke up yesterday to a fine Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday here in Las Vegas only to hear the radio blasting about how Manti has decided (in all his agent's wisdom) to prolong this horribly painful and embarrassing event into, that's right, and even more painful and embarrassing event (I'm sure this is in his agent's mind a great way to "forward Manti's brand." Whatever.)
For those of you just coming in on this story, Manti Te'o claims he was the victim of a catfish scheme. "Catfish" in this context comes from a 2010 documentary by the same name, which follows a Facebook-induced relationship that turns out to be an elaborate hoax. It's called catfish because one of the characters says when live cod were shipped here from Asia, the cod would be sluggish and this made their meat "mushy." When fishermen put catfish in with the cod, they found it kept them active. The character states that the person behind the hoax is like the catfish, keeping other people active in their lives. (The documentary makers have their own issues with truthfulness which causes one to pause.) After figuring out or being told his online love and her subsequent death were all a hoax, Manti went about lying to cover up the aforementioned painful and embarrassing event.
Firstly, let me say, lying is lying is lying. I'm not a fan of how Manti decided to cover the tracks of this unusual relationship (actually, can we call it unusual in this day and age? My own brother-in-law found true love one state away through the magic of the Internet and it's worked out fine.). I understand Manti was embarrassed during the relationship and lied to make it seem less weird. When he found out it was a hoax, he lied about it some more...because that worked so well the first time. And now, he's struggling a bit with why people won't just simply believe this thing happened to him. Look, maybe Manti missed out on his fair share of Saved by The Bell, but even my 12-year-old understands this was not the smartest thing to do. Unless you're lying to some serial killer in order to save your life, I think Manti helped prove that lying - even when well meaning - really just never, ever works in your favor. (And, yes, Mr. Armstrong, that was pointed at you...)
But back to plausibility... is it plausible? Is it possible to have a long distance relationship with someone you've never met? I think it is, especially now when electronics are the communication norm (my old roommates used to sit in our living room and text...to each other...five feet away.) So, when someone is far away - whether the contact is by Skype, phone, letters, or Morse code - we fill in the blanks of what we cannot see day-to-day in front of us, we fill them with things we would like the other person to be. And we ignore things that should raise red flags. So, absolutely I think it's possible.
In Manti's case, he may have complicated trust issues (and this will not help them any) because of who he is and why women might want to become involved with him. This may lead him to approach a relationship from a different angle. He may have felt this was one of the few ways to ferret out who was real and who wasn't...okay, so that didn't turn out so well. So, yes, I think it's completely plausible that it went down as he said. However, four years...? Four years and you never got tempted to Google her or check her out on cheaters.com? I don't know...
(original post: http://www.espn1100.com/Manti-Te-o-Looking-for-Love-in-All-the-Wrong-Place/11190684?archive=1&pid=291405)
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