Okay, that last paragraph is totally made up. But, you see my point, which is that people lie a lot these days and sometimes it's hard to know what to believe. Of course I'm talking about athletes and actresses and half-baked conspiracy theorists and writers whose memoirs turn out to be fiction. Basically, the whole world's gone Pinocchio.
So why lie? Someone like Lance Armstrong has a lot to gain by using performance-enhancing drugs and then lying about it. But in a situation like Manti Te'o's, the benefits of lying are less obvious. If Te'o's version of events is correct, then he was duped into an on-line relationship with a girl who didn't exist. What possible upside is there for the guy or guys who perpetrated this hoax? That kind of subterfuge can't be sustained because at some point the real person will want to meet the not-real person. Everyone knows that the only way for a real person to meet a not-real person is in an A-ha video.
I think in these cases, the real objective of the "catfish" (to steal the term from the documentary and MTV show) may be just to play mind games with someone and to see if he or she can get away with fooling the target. Maybe these guys thought that, hey, we can't beat Te'o on the football field, but we can totally screw with him emotionally. Or, maybe, like the original catfish lady, inventing a fantasy world is an escape from an incredibly depressing real life. Or, maybe they wanted to get on the show "Catfish."
|I think this refers to the actual fish, but I expect an uptick in sales.|
Another possibility is that Te'o was lying also and was scheming to advance his Heisman candidacy, or for some other reason. There do seem to be some inconsistencies between his version of events and the official Notre Dame version of events that would suggest that, at the least, he knew that his "girlfriend" wasn't real for a few months and never publicly acknowledged the falsity. A Gawker article has six theories to explain the story. The last theory (that the authors of the article exposing the fake girlfriend made up the entire thing to increase traffic to the website "Deadspin") is my favorite. When your conspiracy theory story has a conspiracy theory, it's just too much and I surrender to the crazies.
Speaking of conspiracy theories, have you all heard about these Sandy Hook "truthers"? Okay, they think that the government staged the entire Sandy Hook tragedy to pass gun control legislation. There's a video on YouTube, that discusses alleged inconsistencies and suspicious behavior that's not the least bit suspicious if you consider that no one knows how the hell anyone acts in the aftermath of such a horrific event. The video further suggests that actors have been hired to play grieving parents and helpful bystanders. I won't link to it because I don't want to promote it, but feel free to make your own decision. I'm just here to point out that this exists, not to persuade you in any way. Personally, I think it's bullshit because setting aside the fact that I can't imagine the U.S. government killing children to get gun control legislation passed, an enormous number of people would have to be involved in such a conspiracy. And not just people with high-level security clearance or who are accustomed to keeping secrets; but unknown actors?? We all know how great actors are at keeping secrets:
So, what lessons should we take from this lying epidemic? I have a list of 10:
1. Until you meet your on-line "friend" in real-life, assume that they are fake.
2. If your on-line friend has a lot of tragic health problems and accidents, be immediately suspicious that someone is laying the groundwork to off your friend at a moment's notice.
3. If a professional athlete swears on a stack of Bibles that he hasn't taken performance-enhancing drugs, he's lying.
4. Shakespeare said it best, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
5. In this case "lady" means Lance Armstrong.
6. Conspiracy theories are fascinating windows into the minds of people with too much time on their hands.
7. With conspiracy theories, I say to employ Occam's razor which basically just states that in most cases the simple explanation is better than the more complex explanation.
8. At best, memoirs are one person's version of their best approximation of how something transpired, all from that person's point of view.
9. At all costs, do not piss off Oprah.
10. I love Oprah.