Linebacker blitzed by virtual prank

Reading Time: 3 minutes Whatever the truth ends up to be, Te’o just had his virtual world rocked by reality. If he crafted this hoax or if he was the target of an evil genius, life for the Notre Dame star just became a lot more real.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Five years ago, not a soul alive would believe a word Manti Te’o speaks. Thanks to technological advances and a twist on some ancient wisdom however, it’s nearly impossible to tell where fiction meets reality.

It’s true, anything is possible. Like the posters hanging in lunchrooms in every elementary school say, “aim high” and “all it takes is hard work” then “the stars are the limit.” That all sounds good but what they don’t tell you is it’s nearly impossible to achieve greatness and keep it.

Most average golfers can have an amazing round of golf one time, writers can write a good novel once and the list goes on for whatever realm you choose. Very few reach greatness and are able to produce at such a high level consistently. Fortunately for society, the same theory applies to the evil genius among us.

I’ve been told by law enforcement personnel that most people would be surprised at how easy it is to get away with something once. According to this source, most bank robbers aren’t caught until they try for the second or third time. Same idea goes for a lie, tell it once and it can be believable, it’s when the lie evolves that people start to see through the deception and become suspicious.

To be totally honest, this one is a complete head-scratcher. 75 percent of people on an ESPN poll believe Te’o was a willing participant in the hoax involving a fake girlfriend, her leukemia related death and the ensuing media love fest that pushed his stock to hero status. He broke the record for most postseason awards for a defensive player and ended up second in Heisman Trophy voting.

What is so unbelievable is that there is no motive for anyone to make this up. Some have said it was to push his Heisman campaign over the edge, but at the time the story of her death came out, Te’o was not on anyone’s radar to win the award. Not only was it a long shot at best, no defensive player has ever won the award. As far as the argument he was blackmailed goes, he is still in college, not the pro’s and has no money. The fake relationship began three years ago also, well before he was a top NFL prospect.

For him to perpetuate such an elaborate hoax for so long defies the odds and pushes the limits of human ability beyond belief. The only part of the story that makes any version believable is that the bulk of the relationship was carried out online.

As far back as written history illustrates, people are looking to connect in meaningful ways any way they can. When someone believes they have found their soulmate, oceans and mountains are reduced to rubble and love finds away. Love letters have evolved into love emails and texts, tweets have replaced carrier pigeons and even the all night phone call can now take place face to face with Skype.

With the ease in which technology allows us to keep in touch with people, is it so hard to believe that someone could fall so head over heels and be so completely fooled by an imposter? Whether that’s what happened or not, I have no idea. What I do know is we are coming to a point in human development that will make events like this common place.

Technology experts predict within five years, artificial intelligence will reach a point that computers will be able to actually assist us with our work and will no longer be just a tool. This has it’s upside but they also have said people will be able to program a computer to be the perfect mate, even to the extent of simulating the physical sensations associated with an intimate relationship.

Te’o’s tale may be true or he may be a pathological liar that finally got caught, either way there are lessons to be learned. It illustrates the need for journalists to do their jobs and hopefully will wake a few people up to dangers that lerk in the dark corners of the internet. Whatever the moral of the story is, technology is exploding so fast it is hard for centuries of human development to catch up on the fly.

Jonathan Boldt is the Editor-in-Chief of the UVU Review at Utah Valley University, and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jboldt24.