Saturday, January 19, 2013

Manti Te'o and the Internet Girlfriend that Never Was

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Or how to avoid being the victim of an internet love scam. Manti Te'o is an Americam college football star who allegedly was a victim of an internet love scam. In US parlance, it is called Catfish - the title of a 2010 movie that brought a similar incident of online dating trickery to the big screen, and a 2012 MTV show of the same name.

This is a situation whereby one enters a long-term relationship with someone they meet online, without ever meeting them in real life. Only as it turns out, their lover is made up, or not who they say they are. This is what happened to Manti Te'o, and in his case, he dated a lady, who then later 'died'. There is more to the story, which is why the football player is making the news, but I want to look at the Catfish angle.

As most of you will know, I met Atala on the internet, we were in the UK, but in the later part, he was in the US. For over a year, we both participated in an online community, gradually getting to know each other, before we began to exchange private and personal messages. When we did decide to pursue a romantic relationship, one thing I insisted on was that we had to meet before anyone really started catching deep feelings.


This was six months after we started talking, and by then we couldn't deny that we already cared for each other. However, there was a moratorium on the L-word and that held until Atala showed me he was really into the relationship by buying his ticket and hauling himself across the Atlantic. We were now satisfied that one, the other existed as who they said they were, two, we liked what we were saying, and three our real-life connection was even stronger. The rest as they say is history.

In a way therefore, I can understand Manti Te'o, and starting a relationship on the internet. What baffles me is why you would date someone for so long, and be so easily deceived? These days there's new technology that help couples connect beyond pictures, phone calls and emails which can be forged.

To be sure it's not a hairy 60years old you're professing love to, a girl can use webcam, Google video chat, Facetime, Skype, etc. Even if his age and handsome features match his pictures, you can Google, and also check their Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook to verify their job, family, friends, etc.

Those who successfully date for 3 or more years without ever meeting are very few and far between, and the spaces in between are where love scammers, aka catfishes reside. So whether it is US state lines that separate you, like Manti and his fake girlfriend, or an ocean like Atala and myself, I believe that any online romance should not pass 6 months to a year without at least one offline meeting. That is of course if the couple are serious with their relationship, and are thinking of taking it offline after a certain time.

If people don't do that, they may find themselves victims like Manti Te'o.

Who has ever fallen victim of a Catfish, or known others who were victims? And why do you think people leave themselves in a situation to get catfished?






12 comments:

  1. I have heard about many victims and had the opportunity of knowing someone who was playing 'a game' with an unsuspecting internet friend. But I must say here that, like you rightly mentioned, if a person wants to continue with the relationship seriously, then they must make the posibility of seeing face-to-face! There've been too many such stories that people shld have learned from.

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    1. Haha, back in them days, I also knew a few people who were gaming the person at the other end of the internet. If only those people knew...

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  2. Hmm... didn't actually here about this Manti Te'o... lemme go to google

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    1. The guy is actually trending, hope his story serves as a wake-up call to others.

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  3. Manti Te'O's story is so fishy and weird. Some reputable sports columnists are saying he may be gay and this was all a plot to avoid any questions about his sexuality. I agree with what you wrote about using video technology as a way to at least verify who you're talking to. Im not sure whether i agree with the time line for an actual meeting. Relationships evolve differently.

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    1. I kind of want to believe the guy since I don't know him, but yeah, too much drama around the issue. You're right about different relationships and how they evolve, that's why I mentioned the few that it works for. Generally though, unless both parties agree to string each other along, one person is usually not happy with the status-quo.

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  4. Lol poor guy my friend was almost scammed by Malaysian naija catfishes that's the only person i personally know of. I agree with a timeline for meeting face to face because females are known to catch feelings very quickly especially if the guy is giving them 100% attention if the people involved live in the same country they should at least meet each other face to face within 3 months of "talking" international i would say 6 months. A year is way too long to be "dating" someone online without actually meeting them. I don't even trust skype scammers have been known to pay people to impersonate them on skype.

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    1. Your friend was lucky. Honestly, if the couple can afford it, I totally go with your timelines. I see it as a red flag when someone is always evasive about meeting in real life after an online connection.

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  5. Hearing the term catfish for the first time. Ive never really thought of Internet dating cos I just think its not traditional and I'm a traditional girl at heart. I think there should be a time frame from the beginning of the relationship. Dates should be set for proper meetings and people should be very careful and extra alert.

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    1. Very careful indeed, it does have gaps that can be abused. Not that offline dating is fool-proof though :(

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  6. I haven't really met anyone who has fallen victim but I know that it's good to actually have a face to face meeting with somebody that you might be thinking of starting a relationship with. Long ago I was talking to some guy over the phone, he sent me pictures and I thought " not bad" but the day I finally saw him face to face , that was the day we ended any relationship we could have had. His pictures were so different from what he looked like in reality and his countenance didn't match how he spoke over the phone. I gradually drifted away.
    So it's good to be aware. This is a nice post Myne x

    www.spynaija.blogspot.com

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  7. Ive met quite a number of men I now know online. one thing I do personally subscribe to is meeting irl. in fact I'm sneaky about it....call you up at 12. hey I'm in your area, fancy a drink :). it helps to quickly eliminate time wasters .
    its not just about online friends. offline too. girls have dated men whose names are different from their real names, with faked occupations, men living in homes that re not theirs. offline/online shine your eyes.

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