Thanks to the news story about Notre Dame’s star linebacker Manti Te’o, most of society is now familiar with a new term: “catfish”. According to MTV’s new show by the same name, to “catfish” is to pretend to be somebody else online by using false information, such as pictures, on social media sites, usually with the intention of getting somebody to fall in love with you.
This is what Manti Te’o claims he has gone through in his relationship with Lennay Kekua. She was reported to have died of leukemia in September of last year, but it is now known that Lennay Kekua was just a made-up personality used to get attention from Te’o.
The sad part about this ordeal is that Lennay Kekua was so widely known throughout the nation. During Te’o’s game against Michigan, a quote from Lennay Kekua was shown on television multiple times. This means that Te’o has to live with the embarrassment of being led along in front of the nation.
It goes to show how effective these “catfishers” can be. If somebody in the public eye as much as Te’o can be duped, then ordinary college students like us should be extra cautious in starting online relationships with people we have never met with face-to-face or through friends.
Commenting on the ordeal, Notre Dame’s Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick said, “…[T]he
thing I am most sad of is that the single most trusting human being I have ever met[Manti Te’o] will never be able to trust in the same way ever again.”
Maybe that is a good thing. As a society we are way too trusting when it comes to online encounters. Thanks to modern technology, any motivated person can steal somebody’s pictures and pose as a very attractive person to get attention from others. Social networking is an amazing tool for creating connections throughout the world, but we should all be aware that there are some dangers in living with the web as a huge part of our lives, and also that nothing beats good old-fashioned face-time for establishing relationships.