By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Manti Te’o And Looking Down At The Screen Decade

January 27, 2013 7:34 pm Category: Memo Pad, National News, Sports 4 Comments A+ / A-
Manti Te’o And Looking Down At The Screen Decade

You are missing the point.

Or at least, you are if you’re one of the bazillion people following the Manti Te’o story, dutifully trying to determine whether the Notre Dame football star was the victim or the perpetrator of a bizarre hoax. Granted, the story is irresistible as one of those 15-minutes-of-fame-kitten-stuck-in-the-well fables without which people who gather around the water cooler would have nothing to talk about.

Te’o, a Heisman Trophy runner-up, had generated an outpouring of sympathy after he played through pain, turning in a gritty performance that keyed his team to an upset win right after learning that his girlfriend and grandmother had died within hours of each other. The grandmother was real. But as Deadspin, a sports website, soon discovered, the girlfriend was not.

Te’o, it turned out, had never met Lennay Kekua. He’d seen pictures of a woman, he’d spoken to what he thought was a woman by phone and corresponded with someone online. The “relationship” was virtual. Te’o says now that he was as surprised as anyone to learn Kekua did not exist. He was, he says, the victim of a hoax by an acquaintance, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. So now, people are debating whether Te’o duped us or was duped himself.

And missing a more fascinating question. What does it say that this story is even possible, that it is even credible a man could have an emotionally intimate “relationship” with a woman who did not exist?

Here, then, in a nutshell, is the great paradox of the communications revolution. It has left us both better connected and yet, farther apart, because actual contact is no longer required. Indeed, we’ll likely see more stories like these as texting substitutes for conversation, Facebook supplants friendship and we “live” ever more online.

Some of us remember a day when she wasn’t your girlfriend unless she’d allowed you to hold her hand or steal a kiss. You know, physical contact in an analog world.

But that was then.

One is reminded, in a twisted sense, of the outcry over a 1964 news story out of New York. Though key details were later refuted, the initial version had 38 people watching from their windows as a young woman named Kitty Genovese was raped and killed, but declining to come to her aid because they did not want to get involved. That incident became an iconic illustration of an abiding sense that people were becoming alienated from one another.

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Comments

  • nobsartist

    Who gives a crap?

    The real question is how did this moron get accepted at a major university?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Myers/100001512942781 Jim Myers

      Replying to nobsartist –

      Because he is a great football player. Brains not required.

      • nobsartist

        I guess it really does not matter when you consider that 12% of all 4.0 GPA high school graduates have to take remedial classes when the go to college.

        We should all be proud of our educational system just like our health care system.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/V76SOFAXAIZRWC6MNAX5Z3DLAM mothermaybe

    Some people can be book smart, but have no common sense. Some people are very trusting and naive. I think Manti Te’o could be all of these. Maybe he is embarrassed for falling in this trap and didn’t know how to get out without looking like a fool.

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