Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pants on Fire

I have something to confess to you all. This being a blog on the internet, and the internet being a place that, along with delivering porn discreetly, you can take liberties with the truth, I have done just that. First, I am not really a former lawyer. All those legal references I make in my blogs, I picked up that mumbo-jumbo watching "Law & Order." Also, I'm not really married at all. The man I call "the K" is really a guy I hired to dig a well in the backyard. Because, also, I don't live in suburban Atlanta, either. I reside in a trailer (double-wide, mind you) in rural Wisconsin. Those three kids? Not mine at all. The Boy is neighborhood miniature goat shepherd. The Girl? She's the German cousin of a professional ice fisherman. The Baby? She's an avatar.  Also, my real name is Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson. Yes, I am the infant daughter of Uma Thurman.

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.

You're welcome.

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:

Finally, remember old James Frey who wrote "A Million Little Pieces," a purported memoir that turned out to be fiction? Oprah had used his book for her book club and she was pissed about being duped and she brought him back on her show and publicly shamed him for lying to her. Did any of you all think that she was way harsher on Frey than she was on Lance Armstrong? Both men lied, but Frey made the cardinal sin of lying to Oprah and embarrassing her personally with those lies. Armstrong mostly lied to biking officials, cancer patients, cancer survivors, and government agencies, but since he'd never convinced Oprah to personally vouch for him, she went easy on him.

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.


  1. I love this post. Your 10 are spot on. I especially like #8 which is really just like anything anyone writes on the internet in her blog. Including me.

    The Sandy Hook truthers rank in my book somewhere near the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and all other paranoid nut jobs the world over. Seriously - killing first graders!?!

    I think you went pretty easy on Manti T'eo. He was either in on it or dumb as a box of rocks... or both.

    1. I know! They're the direct descendants of the people who think the moon landing was made up. You're probably right about Te'o, but I was feeling charitable. I think he's probably not the sharpest tool and he kept talking about her after he found out she wasn't real.

  2. My favorite show is the Oprah / lance interview. The part that stood out to me where he was CLEARLY LYING to her was when she asked him about how he told his kids. Mumbles, vague, blah blah. I expected the mighty opes to take him down then and there. She let it go. Why Oprah why?

    I saw a hilarious tweet about the best thing about the lance interview is now we know what channel OWN is on. Lol

    1. I think that Lance's people must have cut a pretty cute deal with her on the terms of the interview. It was basically a p.r. piece.

      Ha! I saw a tweet that said something like, well, at least Lance Armstrong had the ball to admit that he lied. Bad, bad.