So Manti Te’o had a fake girlfriend. What is the big deal?

Ok, so I am kind of slow. And just picking up on what happened in the news. Last week. There was apparently some sports figure at Notre Dame (Manti Te’o) who had made the news because of all the hype surrounding his alleged ex-girlfriend. It turns out the hype exists because she didn’t.
I first heard about it on the radio driving in to work and didn’t pay much attention to it. Unfortunately I have since then been bombarded with this story on almost every site I have visited, and have read several angles on it. I don’t really know what to make of it, but I do have some questions.
How do you fumble an imaginary relationship? Because if even your imaginary relationships aren’t working for you, there is a really big problem. I understand real ones not working out because they can be complicated. They are ambiguous. There are a lot of “what ifs” floating around. But I thought the whole purpose of imaginary ones was to craft the ideal. It is supposed to flow perfectly, and more importantly, you decide what happens. So there is no trying to guess what the other person may or may not do. Which would mean that the other person doesn’t die unexpectedly. I mean, we all remember the movie Lars and the Real Girl. No? Ok, well it was about a man who carried around a mannequin and married her. The whole town was in on it and pretended along with him because they wanted to make him happy. And then the “woman” got sick and died. That was his way of moving on. Maybe this whole scenario with the man from Notre Dame was like that. Maybe he needed to move on. Maybe not. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Which is probably for the best. Because if anyone in the room was going to scream out “she is not real for the love of God!” it would have been me.
But I still can’t help being a little perplexed. Did the imaginary girlfriend no longer want to be with him? Was it so bad that even unreal women would prefer to die rather than continue on with this guy? I am sure there were a lot of real women who would have gladly dated him. He had a pretty good career going. He was just a step away from winning the big trophy thing. I am sure sports people know what I am referring to. It starts with an “H,” ends with a “man,” fill in the blank.
Which brings me to my next question. How are these two things connected? A lot of what I am reading argues that he didn’t win the trophy due to this scandal. First of all, I am not sure if I would classify this as a scandal. So the man had a pretend girlfriend. So what? I think I spent my entire sophomore year in high school married to Jack Nicholson. No one ever said I couldn’t be valedictorian because of that. Granted Jack Nicholson didn’t drop dead, but anyway.
Then there are all those folks who say he manipulated the story of her death to gain sympathy. Maybe he did. His grandmother died recently too. And she was real. It has been confirmed that she actually died. How is this any different? He wasn’t sleeping with his grandmother? Well, he wasn’t sleeping with his imaginary girlfriend either. Oh, but you are going to argue that in his head the two are different. Ok, probably. But do you really want to argue what is going on in his head? Do you have any evidence of what he is actually thinking? No? Oh, so his motives are unknown?
I guess this whole story began to irk me when I realized that there is no separation between the public and private. Granted this man brought his private into the public, but one still does not effect the other. If he was even being considered for the big H trophy thing then he must have been a good player to begin with. I personally have no clue, but I am assuming that is how things work. So what does the rest matter?
I see this in politics all the time. Some politician engages in dubious behavior in his personal life, and next thing you know his career is over. No one asks whether he was actually a good politician, or did his job properly. Sure, a lot of the time they really weren’t very good, so now the scandal can serve to remove them from office. But there are times when two completely unrelated parts of a person’s life somehow intermingle and now you are considered a terrible football player because you can’t get a real girlfriend. What?
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