Manti Te’o (pronounced, “Tayo”) was an All-American linebacker last season at Notre Dame University. On September 15, during the week before the Michigan State game, Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly told the media that Te’o’s grandmother and a friend had died. Te’o played in the Michigan State game and, supposedly inspired by the losses, had one of his best games of the season.
Details were later revealed that the friend was Te’o’s girlfriend. The media jumped on the sob-stories like a fat baby jumping on a doughnut.
Now, it’s been revealed that the girlfriend was an online contact and the story about her death was a hoax.
Te’o says, “over an extended period of time I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought was an authentic relationship.”
Needless to say, Te’o is embarrassed by the whole thing and the fact that his grandmother died the same week makes it worse.
The lesson we should all take away is the risk of online contact and information.
Human resource hiring professionals are increasingly looking at the facebook pages and Twitter messages of interviewees. If they see embarrassing, off-color, or offensive postings they are dropping the interviewee from consideration. Or, in some cases, firing the offending employee.
What a lot of young—and older—people still don’t realize is that the Web is forever. Pictures, comments, rants and websites that seem funny today may not be so funny in the future when they are trying to get into graduate school, looking for a job or proposing marriage (think about your future in-laws seeing the picture of you passed-out on spring break at Myrtle Beach).
A couple of my friends are very right-wing. I love’em, but these guys are pretty close to being the hobnail boots, brown shirts and invading Poland kind of right-wing. They love to use facebook to air their grievances about the president, politics and life. Neither of them would stand on a street corner and yell their beliefs out loud, but that’s what they are doing digitally.
I’ve got to believe there’ll be a day when their grandchildren read their swill and look at them and ask… “PawPaw. Really?”
***If you have a friend or co-worker who has a loose sense of digital decorum you may want to pass this on.