By now you’ve heard the name Manti Te’o, and know he’s the Notre Dame football player with a fake girlfriend. Some claim Manti was sucked in by a “catfish” who created an intricate fake internet life for a woman named Lennay Kekua. Others claim that Manti was involved in the hoax. In his first televised interview on the subject today, Manti told Katie Couric that he only lied about it starting in December, with this gem of a quote.
Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12. Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?
I don’t know, Manti… have tried a little harder in the relationship in the first place so that you would’ve figured out that she didn’t exist a long time ago?
Let’s assume for a minute that Manti Te’o had nothing to do with creating his fake girlfriend. I still don’t feel sorry for him, because being in a relationship should require some level of face-to-face contact and a little more effort!
According to several accounts of Manti and Lennay’s relationship, it was mostly done via Facebook message and text, with a few phone calls (God knows how those were pulled off).
And she was his girlfriend? I’m sorry, but since when did imaginary girls have so little respect for themselves? He never had to bring her soup when she was sick. He never had to help her find her keys. He never had to meet her friends and pretend to be interested in their group conversation about gel vs. regular manicures.
These two didn’t so much as share a snack at the movies, let alone a meal together. They didn’t enjoy quiet moments on the couch staring at their respective laptops. They didn’t meet each other’s families. She didn’t drag him into the lingerie department of a Macy’s only to buy a boring nude strapless bra because she lost hers. He didn’t subject her to sitting at the bar with the guys as they talked about football – fantasy and otherwise. They never… well, you know…
They didn’t have a relationship!
You know who I blame? Everyone. Everyone who has settled for a form of relationship that is less than they deserve. Everyone who has said to themselves, “Well, I wish he’d just show up on my doorstep with flowers, wine and Anne of Green Gables, but instead he sent me a text that said ‘what’s up’ so I guess that’s good enough.” Girls! We’re letting ourselves be replicated too easily by asking for only the minimal amount of effort from boys.
Now. Do I understand the ability to form an attachment to someone you’ve never met? Of course. You don’t watch Dirty Dancing obsessively as a girl without falling in love with Johnny Castle.
But then you grow up. And you start to look for a real life Johnny Castle. And then you grow up some more and realize that he’d be a terrible guy to date and how would he mesh with your college friends – news flash, he wouldn’t! – and can you really deal with him having to teach dance the next summer when you had promised yourself you were going to do something intellectual with your time and you wish he’d do the same? No you can’t, and now all of a sudden you’re looking to date the real life version of Neil Kellerman.
See? We have these little mental relationships, and then we realize that we need more. This is where Manti went wrong. He needed to ask for more. He needed to feel compelled to give more. All in all, there needed to be more.
Manti, you young, impressionable thing. Let me give you a quick word of advice. Next time you think you have a girlfriend, call her out of the blue. Show up at her door with flowers. Casually ask her for her social security number, call a private detective and have him run it through the system to make sure she’s a living, breathing person. You know, the basics.