A reader defends Manti Te’o:
I feel I need to add another angle to this story that perhaps no one else has provided. I have been playingwhat is commonly referred to as MMOssince 2000. I started with Everquest and moved on to World of Warcraft. I was very active in the end-game raiding community. This is a small group in this world that tries to “push the envelope”. They are the first ones/only ones who actually see the big encounters designed for cooperative groups to take out and advance by obtaining better gear for their characters. I tell you this because I feel it’s important you understand the world I have inhabited.
Online relationships in this world are common, and with the advent of more social media they are easier to maintain. But in this environment you ultimately work closely with a group of 25-40 people on a nightly basis for upwards of 2-4 hours each time. People become very close and the human experience of trying to connect makes itself known. I have seen many an online-only relationship develop and flourish.
Most turn into long-distance things where the people involved are constantly on Twitter, Skype, IM programs and Ventrilo servers telling each other everything and planning their first or next in-person encounter. These relationships are hard to explain to people because they “aren’t real.” They in fact are very real, with very real emotional attachments in them. Occasionally the Catfish-type of thing happens, what the hoaxers” are trying to get out of them varies as well. But it happens.
I also say this because I can very well understand why Manti exaggerated his story about this girl. Most people just don’t understand this type of connection yet. To imply he is hiding his sexuality is, I think, misreading the situation. That is not to say he is not trying to hide. I just think the more likely scenario is he became emotionally involved with someone online. “Tragedy” struck this person and he went all in. He now has to explain this to people in a world who at best disparage this type of relationship. He’s embarassed so he makes up the meeting. The story goes national and now he’s in the middle of a lie and momentum takes over. He’s covering, he’s covering and now he finds out it’s all a house of cards and he was duped the whole time.
(Video: Trailer for the 2010 film, Catfish)