Monday, January 21, 2013

Manti Te'o and Catfish

Picture via USA TODAY

This past week we have seen countless coverage on two unfolding PR scandals. First, there was the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and his uncomfortable interview with Oprah. Next, and what is in my opinion the most bizarre one, is the Manti Te'o nonexistent, fabricated girlfriend story. Armstrong's debacle is somewhat standard and his PR people are doing their best to use other previous cases as a guidance to clean up his reputation. However, Manti Te'o's situation is one I am confident has not been seen much before this age of technology and his PR people may just have their work cut out for them. 

One article I found on Mashable regarding the Te'o incident decided that due to what had happened, it could be concluded that "we are all Catfish". This immediately caught my eye because I am absolutely infatuated by that bizarre show (and Buckwild but that is a discussion for another day) as well.

This PR scandal included one particular college football player, Manti Te'o, a Heisman runner-up and potential pro-football player. According to news reports, Manti Te'o's grandmother and girlfriend died within a 24 hour span. He was then able to push through the adversity and lead his Notre Dame team to triumph against Michigan state with 12 tackles. It was heartbreaking, it was inspiring, and it was exactly what people wanted to see. Te'o instantly won every Americans' heart.

It came to light via a Deadspin article that Te'o's girlfriend's death was a hoax and that the woman had actually never existed. This lead Mashable to come to the conclusion that Te'o was just another person on Catfish, tricked into a weird, false-identlty online story which was not even remotely legitimate. Te'o's PR people are attempting to say that he was in fact duped into this and that he is sincerely apologetic. It will, however, be interesting to see how the public will handle this scandal and whether or not his reputation will ever be fully restored. 

Ultimately, Catfish and Manti Te'o's situation should make people a little more weary about who they are meeting online and their viability. They could, after all, just be fooling you or trying to trick you into some form of action. It is a scary thought, but it is happening more and more every day and seems to be an unavoidable aspect of 21st century communication.

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