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The Manti Te’o Story Part 2: What Factors Contributed to Manti Te’o being Catfished

The Information Age

The Information age is characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on the information computerization. Today, in the year 2013 we are in the Information age and the Internet is taking over and not only affecting all of our lives, but completely shaping every aspect of it. The people who have been most affected by the Internet are Generation Y and Z which are characterized by those who were born from the years 1977 to 2012. This group of people which includes myself have seen the evolution of the internet go from strictly computers to to almost every hand held device you can access on a daily basis. You cannot find a group of high school or college students without seeing at least one of them looking down at their phone and talking to someone who is not currently present. The internet has changed the way we communicate with each other and the average age a person gets their first cell phone today is currently 8 years old with 75% of today’s teens having cell phones. Between the ages of eight and eighteen, the average person spends about seven and a half hours on the Internet per day up from less than six just five years ago. The Internet has influenced the way we communicate with each other in more than one way, today we can communicate where ever we want, with who ever we want, when ever we want and faster than ever before. Smart phones are the combination of the Internet and cell phones and today 57% of kids aged 13 to 17 have a smart phone. Text messaging has enabled us to communicate with our friends and family in places where it is not appropriate to have out loud conversations. Text messaging has also affected how we talk to people, as most people do not text message the same way they would speak in person. One in three teens now send more than 100 texts per day. Today, 88% of all cell phone users use text messaging. This enables you to communicate with someone without ever having to see them or even hear their voice. Text messaging is a much less personal form of communicating than talking on the phone or in person. The upcoming generation is more extremely savvy and less teenagers are actually speaking face-to-face than ever before. However, this generation’s persistent absence of face to face interaction makes it problematic for them to read body language and understand when someone is lying. They’re not trained to pick up on visual cues or even the implications in a tone of voice. As much as their computer savvy has given them unprecedented access to networks and information, there’s little sophistication in how to process the bombardment of human interaction data when it occurs. This makes them a very vulnerable group.

It is nearly impossible today to see a group of teenagers or college kids hanging out without at least one of them being on their cell phone.

In the Information Age, cell phones are being increasingly used for purposes other than strictly phone calls.

Social Networking/Online Dating

Social Networking originally began with speaking to people on AIM using screen names to instantly message them or speak in chat rooms with people with similar interests. This later lead to online dating websites where you can meet people over the internet and talk to them and set up dates. Social Networking websites have evolved drastically from this and it is one of the fastest growing industries in America. Today 90% of teens use some form of social networking. The two most popular forms of social networking today are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter along with other social networking sites combine various ways to communicate with other people creating a community that takes place entirely on their website. All you need to do is become “friends” with someone on Facebook or follow each other on Twitter and you can see all of their pictures, personal information, comments, and posts that they put on their pages. On Facebook the ways to communicate are by “liking” or commenting on their posts or pictures on, writing on their Facebook Timeline, “poking” them, or messaging them which is basically instant messaging. On Twitter you can communicate with people by “favoriting” their tweets, direct messaging them, tweeting at them or re-tweeting one of their posts. This can all be done without ever having to meet the individual in person. Non-private profiles can be viewed by anyone, but people who chose to remain private can control who see’s what information. Much like text messaging, speaking to someone on one of these Social Networking sites is a lot less personal than in person and effects the how you talk to people because most people talk differently over the internet than in person. Today social networking sites have gone mobile and can now be accessed anywhere there is Internet connection by use of smart phone. Facebook and Twitter have mobile applications and aps specifically designed for cell phones. You can search for people on both of Facebook and Twitter by use of the Facebook’s friend finder and Twitter’s connect feature. These social networking sites are a way to meet people and form relationships over the Internet. This, combined with the increased cell phone usage has taken almost all the personal social connection out of relationships and has allowed people to find out a large amount of information about other people without having to meet them. Many people include their phone numbers on their Facebook pages too so that can also be accessed.

Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow people to connect without ever having to physically meet.

The “Catfishing” Phenomenon

Given the vast amount of communication that is no longer taking place in person and growing amount of people using social networking to form relationships, it is not surprising that many people are using fake pictures and information to fool others and pretend to be someone that they are not. The recent boom of social networking has lead to a “catfishing” phenomenom which is very popular especially with teenagers and college students. Catfishing is the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships. This is becoming more and more popular as people realize that they can very easily pretend to be someone else and trick someone into liking them or even falling in love with them. Catfishing combines the use of several social networking sites and other mobile devices to talk and form relationships with people without ever meeting them in person. It is very easy to make a fake profile on Facebook or Twitter using other people’s photos than your own and posting information posing as someone else. These “catfishers” simply have to find someone they want to talk to (could be someone they know or someone they don’t know) using the social networking sites person finder feature, request to friend them or follow them, and then message them posing as someone else. If the other person has never met the catfisher in person, they have no way to know that it is not the actual person in the pictures they are speaking to. Catfishers generally message multiple people. The main reason people “catfish” or make fake profiles is because they are unhappy with their own physical appearance or who they are and don’t feel comfortable messaging someone as themselves. Many times they fish for compliments and accept them as if they are the actual person they are pretending to be. Most catfishers have problems psychologically. Full online relationships are sometimes started without ever meeting face to face and this became apparent when the documentary entitled “Catfish The Movie” was release in theaters in 2010. This movie starred a man named Nev Schulman who was a victim of being catfished by a woman pretending to be multiple people and feeding him lies. The movie was such a hit that MTV gave Nev his own TV show in 2012 where he helps individuals out who are going through a similar process of having an online relationship, but never meeting the person face to face. In most of these situations the person who they are having this fabricated relationship with are not who they were claiming to be and were hiding behind multiple lies. Some of these relationships lasted up to 10 years without ever meeting in person. This is what happened to Manti Te’o who was catfished by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

Catfish the TV Show first aired in 2012 and brings to light how many people are being duped by predators and fake accounts.

Manti like so many others was duped by a fake Twitter account by a “catfish”.

Manti Te’o’s Background Effect/Psychological Factors

There were many factors that played a part in Manti Te’o being “catfished” and one of them was his background growing up in Hawaii. Manti was born and raised in Laie, Hawaii. The town he lived in housed a satellite campus of Brigham Young University. At 21 years old, Manti Te’o is typical of a generation who has grown up in front of their cell phones and computers, where intense, electronic social interaction has become their reality. This had a profound effect on his level of social awareness and emotional intelligence. Te’o was victim to an age where people can easily create a fake social network account and trick someone into thinking they are someone else. He rose to fame very early as a football star in Hawaii so he never really lived a normal life growing up. Manti has been socially isolated with little opportunity to meet a nice, normal girl in the flesh and was the perfect target for the predator. Manti’s religion also played a large role in why he was duped so easily. Manti Te’o and his family are Mormon LDS (Church of the Latter-Day Saints) and Manti grew up in a strict Mormon home. The Mormon religion plays a large role in young Mormon’s lives. Young men and women raised within the LDS church are counseled to wait until age 16 to begin dating. Dates often occur in-group settings, with the emphasis on exclusive relationships generally delayed until the early college years. Mormon young people are much like the majority culture. Unlike in many mainstream religions, a sexual relationship before marriage is unacceptable in the Mormon faith. Young members who fail to abide by the law of chastity lose entry into the temple, home to the most sacred of LDS ceremonies. This immutable moral code can make life complicated for young Mormons living in an increasingly sexualized culture. It is not hard to see the benefits of an online relationship for someone in Te’o’s position. The voice on the other end of the telephone line offered emotional support but reduced temptations. This girl could be his biggest fan without becoming his biggest distraction. A relationship conducted over the phone and Internet could also move at a pace suitable for a shy Mormon young man.Te’o was quoted as saying “Faith is believing in something that you most likely can’t see.” When Manti did finally find out that Lennay was not real, he was understandably extremely embarrassed. In his shock and disappointment, he prolonged the narrative, because for months, in his mind, the relationship was very real. Te’o was quoted saying: “I did not know who to turn to. I did not know who to tell. I did not know who to trust,” Te’o said. “It was a big thing for me, and I was scared. That’s the truth. I was just scared, and I didn’t know what to do.” Take the fact that Te’o could never live an average life with his Mormon faith and the information age that he grew up into account and this made him very vulnerable. It’s not so surprising that a young, handsome, All American college football star like Manti was able to be catfished.


The Mormon religion dictates much of young men like Manti Te’o’s lives.




How Social Media was used During the Boston Marathon Bombings

Bombings During the Boston Marathon

On April 15th, 2013 during the annual Boston Marathon, two bombs exploded at approximately 2:49 PM killing 3 people and injuring 264. The bombs exploded near the finish line on Boylston Street and chaos erupted in the crowd of marathon runners and viewers. The news immediately hit television stations and the whole country was alerted of what was going on. It was suspected to be an act of terrorism and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released photos and a video of the two suspects involved who were later identified as brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After the FBI released the pictures there was a shooting where the suspect killed an MIT police officer, carjacked an SUV, and initiated gunfire with the police in Watertown, Massachusetts. During the gun fire one of the suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was injured, but escaped. A manhunt commenced and thousands of police officers searched Watertown for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Most people first found out about the bombings from Twitter as numerous tweets included photos of the scene at the finish line. After the bombings occurred, individuals that were directly involved in the investigation used the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the public  and update them on what was going on. The main players that were using Twitter were the Boston PD and the FBI, but tweets from all over poured providing updates and breaking news. The Boston Globe tweeted “BREAKING NEWS: Two powerful explosions detonated in quick succession right next to the Boston Marathon finish line this afternoon.” Boston marathon organizers said in a statement on Facebook that the explosion was caused by two bombs: “We are working with law enforcement to understand what exactly happened.” Digg tweeted out how the NY Times unveiled a map of the explosion site in proximity to the finish line. Before, during and after the explosions both the FBI and Boston PD used Twitter to reach out to the public to inform them of what was going and what to do. The public found out in real time what was going on as soon as the law enforcement did. They were given updates, instructions and tips throughout. Boston PD’s first tweet was directly after the initial explosion, it read: “Boston police confirming explosion at marathon finish line with injuries.” Then they later tweeted “23 injured, 2 dead.”  The Boston Globe tweeted that one of the people that was deceased during the bombings was an 8 year old boy. Boston PD then tweeted about a third incident that occurred at JFK library and that they were unsure if it was related or not to the bombings. JFK Library tweeted out “The fire in the building is out. Appears to have started in the mechanical room. All staff and visitors are safe and accounted for.” Boston PD used Twitter to provide a Task force tip line number so people could call in if they had any tips on the case and tweeted a number that family members looking for info related to injured individuals could call. Boston PD tweeted instructions to the general population of Boston how to best remain safe and when there were news conferences. The residents of Watertown were instructed by the Boston PD to stay in doors and not answer the door unless they were instructed by a police officer to do so. The FBI also used twitter to reach out to the public during this investigation. FBI Boston first tweeted “FBI assists Boston Police Department Regarding Explosions along Marathon Route and Elsewhere.” The FBI released several images of the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and tweeted “Bombing suspect may be driving a 4-door green Honda Civic with Massachusetts plates reading 116GC7”. When the suspect was finally captured they were the first to tweet “Dzhokar Tsarnaev, age 19, suspect in Boston bombing investigation, is now in custody.” After this terrible tragedy, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown published a statement on Facebook that stated “Like many of you, I was at first horrified. Now I am mad. This was a cowardly act, just cowardly. Our country is at its best when our back is against the wall.” On Wednesday, May 1st, the Boston Police Department announced via Twitter that three additional suspects were taken into custody in connection with the bombings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts then tweeted information about this case, and noted when these men would appear in federal court. Boston PD recently informed citizens via the Twitter that despite these developments, there was no threat to their safety.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites alike are changing the way the general public is receiving information. For the first time the public can now get information on such tragedies as this in real time while it is happening. These social media sites are also providing another way for law enforcement officials to communicate with the public to provide instructions and seek out help on catching wanted individuals.

The first photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was released and tweeted by the Boston Police directly after the bombings.
Video of the suspect involved in the Boston Marathon bombing was released by the FBI via Twitter.
The Boston PD constantly updated the general public by Tweeting out to them during the investigation.
Boston PD alerted the public when as soon as the suspect was in custody.
The FBI tweeted out a picture of the wanted suspect’s possible license plate number.
The Boston PD warned the public that the at large suspect was armed and dangerous.
The general whereabouts of the incidents location was released by this Twitpic
Boston Police Department’s Twitter Account
FBI Boston’s Twitter Account

About Video Project: Manti Te’o Story

My Video project will be about the story that was getting all the news lines in sports for the past couple months about famous Hawaiian Notre Dame football player, Manti Te’o and I will be revealing the full story from beginning to it’s current status without the blurry lines that the story consisted of as it was being revealed a few months ago. My blog is focused mainly on sports related news, hence the name, “Between the Lines”, so I thought this would be a perfect story to write about a month after all the information has been released on it.

As the majority of the nation now knows former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became famous during this past college football season due to his tragic story of his Grandmother and and girlfriend’s death that occurred only days apart. His encouraging and inspirational decision to play the weekend after both of these deaths hit national headlines and became at the time what was the feel good story of the year. His inspirational story along with his excellent on field play made Manti Te’o arguably the most famous college football player since Tim Tebow. Everything was set up for a story book ending with Manti being a Heisman Trophy nominee and a projected early first round NFL Draft pick when a few months after the first story broke a second even more shocking story about Manti T’eo hit National Headlines. It was revealed on Sports Center that Manti Te’o’s alleged girlfriend that had supposedly passed away Lennay Kekua in September of 2012, in fact never existed in the first place. When this story broke it was huge news because it was only weeks before Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame football team was on their way to the NCAA BCS National Championship against Alabama and their season was marked by their inspirational leader Senior Captain Manti Te’o and his heart warming story of how he played through adversity. When the story was first revealed it was very unclear as to whether Manti Te’o was in on the hoax from the beginning in order to catch National headlines or whether it was simply a cruel prank on a slightly naiive individual. As more of the story was unveiled it became slightly more clear that it was the latter rather than the former and eventually it was released that Manti Te’o’s supposed late girlfriend did not actually exist and instead it was an imposter male who had been pretending to be his girlfriend for the past two years. However in an interview after Manti Te’o supposedly received a picture of who he thought was his dead girlfriend that revealed she was still alive, Manti proceeded to answer the interviewers questions as if she was still dead and he never received any confirmation otherwise. Manti Te’o proceeded to try and clear up his image as much as possible and even did an interview with Katie Couric explaining how he was the victim and how he had been duped by this imposter for the past couple years. He even played tapes of his dead girlfriend who left messages on his answer machine. Teo’s girlfriend impersonator was later revealed to be male, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who did a tell-all interview with Dr. Phil where he revealed he was in love with Manti Te’o and that was why he had been pretending to be his girlfriend the past two years. This story is even bigger with the newest popular trend referred to as “Catfishing”. This term became popular with the movie “Catfish” and the MTV show “Catfish: The TV Show” where various individuals are in long term online relationships with people whom they have never met before. In many of these situations the person who they believe they are talking to are actually not who they had been claiming to be. This is a result of the new Internet age where more and more people are having interactions on Social Media such as Facebook or Twitter or dating websites and less face to face interaction. This Manti Te’o story was one of the biggest stories of the year. Notre Dame went on to lose horribly to Alabama in the National Championship and now Manti Te’o is questionable to be a first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Many teams looked at Manti Te’o for both his football talent, but also to be an emotional leader for their team and potentially the face of their Franchise, but with this story getting released it is hard to look at Manti Te’o as anything, but a distraction and potentially a joke.

I will cover this story from beginning to the end starting with when the Manti Te’o story first broke and became popular all the way to his current draft status that is up in the air. I will clear the air on what are facts and what was just a rumor, as much as possible. I will include a video of a slide show of pictures and video with my voice as the audio going through the story step by step. Some of the picture I will include are this one that Manti Te’o received revealing his “dead” girlfriend was in fact still alive. Also this picture of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend impersonator Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. I will also include pictures that I personally take that I find are related to the Manti Te’o story. The video’s that I will include in my Project are short clips of Manti Te’o’s interview with Katie Couric, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s interview with Dr. Phil, and an interview that Diane O’Meara, the woman from the photograph did on NBC’s Today Show. My video project will be no longer than 3 minutes long and I will also conduct an Interview relating to this story and include that in my project.

The links to the videos that I will potentially use are listed here:

Manti Te’o Interview with Katie Couric:

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo Interview with Dr. Phil:

Diane O’Meara Interview on NBC Today Show: