By Catherine Festa, TSB Staff
Let me start off by saying that this whole Manti Te’o scandal is honestly one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. The sheer thought of a person creating an online profile of a ficticious person to mess with, or get close to, some football star is the most immature thing. What was the point? To be funny? It wasn’t funny at all. To get attention? No one will care about this scandal in a month. So honestly, what was the point?
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This person, allegedly Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, set Te’o up by using another girl’s Facebook photos and pretending to be the ficticious Lennay Kekua. Late Thursday, his own attorney said it was the disturbed Tuiasosopo disguising his voice and talking to Te’o on the phone, in order to develop some sort of bond or relationship. Seems like a lot of effort for something as mind-numbing as this. I must say though, Te’o is incredibly gullible for falling in love with someone over the Internet, claiming “her” as his girlfriend and devoting himself to a girl that he has never met. I mean honestly, how do you fall deeply in love with a person that you’ve never met? Well, I guess you could ask Te’o.
I’ve spent hours researching this and I’ve come across numerous opinions. Some say Te’o was involved in the scheme, some say he was innocent. I honestly don’t think he would be involved in something as silly as this, but my research shows that he knew that this girl wasn’t real at the beginning of December, but continued to refer to her as “his departed girlfriend,” complete with the heartbreaking story of her death from cancer. Although he wasn’t directly involved in the scheme, I do think he used this sob story to gain pity and attention. For him to use that story, especially at the time of the Heisman Trophy ceremony, I think was wrong. It’s one thing to not be aware you’re being scammed, but it’s another to use to find out and then use it for your benefit.
This hoax has brought light to this type of social media scheming, also known as “catfishing.” This term gave birth back in 2010 when something similar happened to a man who was trying to start a company. Basically “catfishing” refers to a fake identity that is created online. Te’o seems to be another victim in “catfishing” and I truly do think it’s safe to say that he is innocent in this scenario. With the Heisman nomination, BCS Championship Game and upcoming NFL Draft that he is a part of, I don’t know why he would use an outlet like this to seek attention.
Te’o sat down with Katie Couric on Tuesday and explained his side. He claimed he was entirely innocent and unaware of the hoax. While I do believe his story, I think his intelligence level needs to increase and perhaps he should delete all online accounts and go old-school with the way he picks up the ladies.