The Deceivers

Manti, te'o, football, controversy, scandal, deceit, lie, lies, pop, culture, facebook, friend, relationship

Subject of facebook relationship controversy, Manti Te’o. Image courtesy of Hoosierguy Jeff.

Hearing about how Manti Te’o was deceived on facebook immediately made me think of what happened to us.  You should know, he wasn’t the only one being manipulated and lied to.  Here’s our story:

I met a woman on facebook, let’s call her Beth.  She and I became friends through a mutual friend.  Over the last couple of years we all got to know each other through facebook.

So one day out of nowhere, Beth starts writing about her poor friend’s daughter and how she was mugged and ended up in the ICU.  It was a horrible story, and it got her a lot of attention on facebook.  Everyone was so worried about her and her friend, and her friend’s child.  The dramatic story continued on facebook for a few days, until the poor girl just couldn’t fight anymore and died.

The girl’s parents (Beth’s friends) were horribly distressed, as you can imagine.  They decided to fly to Tibet and scatter their daughter’s ashes there in the mountains.  Beth posted detailed accounts on facebook of how they went there to do this.  We were told about how the girl’s ashes were ceremonially scattered and the parents felt good about doing “right by their daughter” (though I’m not sure why they had to go to Tibet to do that).  The daughters amazingness was discussed at length for a few weeks.  During this ordeal, the poor girl’s parents facebook friended many of Beth’s friends, including me, even though we had never had any real interaction with them on facebook before.

After the ashes were scattered on mountain high, there were no further posts by the girl’s parents seen on facebook at all.  Months passed with no further posts by Beth about the ordeal either.  Then we suddenly see a post saying that the father of the girl who was killed just had a heart attack in the remote mountains of Tibet.  Wait, he’s still there?  Months later?  Hmmm, that’s strange…

There was an elaborate description of how rescuers had to fly to the mountains with a helicopter to try and save him, but they were too late and he died in the mountains.  It was of course devastating for Beth.  Again we heard about how awful it was for her and the wife of the man who just died.  This went on for a few days. Then, again, silence from the wife and Beth never mentioned it again.

A month or so later, I heard from our mutual friend, through whom I had met Beth.  It was then that I found out that Beth had invented all of the drama, the daughter wasn’t attacked, wasn’t put in the ICU and didn’t die.  We are not even sure she was real at any point.  The father and mother never went to Tibet to scatter her ashes, and the father didn’t have a heart attack high up in the mountains, away from medical assistance.  Wow.

Beth had invented all of these stories, assumedly to get attention.  She had drawn dozens of people into her fake drama, making everyone feel sorry for her and her friends, and upsetting many people.  She had created fake profiles for the girl, her mother and her father and used them to friend her friends to create an entire web of lies.  Once it was discovered, there was a big uproar about all of her deceptions and about how many people she had affected with them.  There were theories about whether or not she was crazy, a pathological liar, or just someone who wanted attention and didn’t know how to get it in a healthy way.  We really don’t know the answers to those questions.

Once she was found out and confronted, she apologized for her schemes, but it just served as a reminder to be careful with whom you interact in this world.  You never really do know anyone, even the people you know in person.  There is always the chance you are dealing with a psychopath.  There are many people who will do whatever it takes to get them what they want or need, and they don’t care if they hurt anyone else in the process.

Manti Te’o is surely much more famous than any of us, but we all fell into a similar trap of someone’s lies and deceit.  If it hasn’t happened to you yet, that’s great, I hope it never does.  Let this story serve as a warning to you to be on your toes; it really is happening to lots of people out there, it is real, so be careful.

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