At 22 years old and barely used to being a central figure in the public eye, Manti Te’o is likely experiencing a tumult of emotions. What should be a pinnacle turning point in a promising career in professional football has rapidly turned into a downward spiral of shame and embarrassment.
There are so many unanswered questions. False speculations run high as Te’o remains tight-lipped about what really happened. As the details of the story unfold, it would seem that Te’o is a victim who uttered boldfaced lies to the media, friends and family in an effort to cover up his embarrassment. A quick scan across the comments section on any webpage detailing his story or following the “MantiTeo” hashtags on Twitter would suggest that he deserves to be judged and somehow punished for what he has done. As if no man (or woman) has ever lied to protect themselves from embarrassment?
Although all the facts have yet to surface, but if you consider the possibilities, his story is actually not all that unusual. In the 21st century, online dating is the way of the world – few people meet “organically” anymore. It is in the confines of your living room, curled up in your pajamas and staring at a well-lit computer screen that you can surf profile after profile, type in your parameters and find your soulmate online. The sad part is that the lies and embarrassment often begin with these profiles. Many people take this as an opportunity to rewrite their lives. Radio stations make bits out of these stories, reality TV shows seek out these stories – being duped by online dating is the modern equivalent of having your baby’s paternity test unveiled on Jerry Springer.
What makes the whole story hard to believe is that someone like Manti Te’o, who sits on the brink of millions of dollars and an NFL contract, would have to look online for love – aren’t women throwing themselves at these potential millionaires? Just a few weeks ago, Brent Musberger put AJ McCarron’s girlfriend on the map. And no sooner had she gained hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, including LeBron James, did the media begin firing off speculations that in rural Alabama, AJ McCarron was her million-dollar ticket out of town. The media blatantly suggested that a woman as beautiful as Katherine Webb was only dating AJ McCarron because of his career potential. If that is a possibility, where is Manti Te’o’s gold-digging girlfriend?
The fact of the matter is that even if Te’o speaks out, will anyone even know if he is telling the truth? In the end, does it really matter?
Public controversy is like a drug. It has become an addiction of sorts, freeing man from the monotony of daily living, spurring a platform for heated opinions and giving anyone with an email address free rein to bear judgment on someone enduring a very human struggle.