Te’o controversy sparks online dating discussion
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 21:02
Eric Resnick, founder of online dating coaching services at ProfileHelper.com, says scamming is possible with online dating, but he believes Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o is lying about his recent online dating controversy due to embarrassment.
“Catfishing” refers to making a fake persona on the internet, often to pursue deceptive romantic relationships. The most recent of these instances involved Te’o, who had a long-distance internet relationship with a woman he believed died of leukemia in September 2012. In January, Te’o found out she never had existed in the first place.
Resnick, who says he has helped over 15,000 online daters with their profiles, says he believes dating over the internet allows people to meet individuals they normally would not meet in their daily lives, an aspect that can be especially beneficial for college students.
“I think the college students that use it now are going to be at an advantage because their social circle will be bigger and they’ll know more people, so they’ll be able to find a job or get married,” Resnick says.
Author and online dating expert Julie Spira says despite the recent scandal involving Te’o, online dating will continue to remain popular.
“People are so attached to smartphones and computers that we’re starting to see an upswing in online dating across the board,” Spira says. “The Te’o story can happen to anyone, the girl next door or a celebrity. People get embarrassed, and that’s why they don’t break it off as quickly as they should.”
Senior Julie James says she thinks Te’o is lying about the scandal because she does not believe two people can correspond over a long period of time without seeing each other.
James says the “catfish” hoax has not changed her opinion of online dating because online dating has provided people with a lot of opportunities they would not have had otherwise. Despite that fact, she says she does not think dating is particularly popular among college students.
“On a college campus you’re provided with a lot of opportunities to meet people,” James says. “I feel like it’s once you get out of college it becomes harder to get involved and meet people.”
According to Spira, who has been featured on shows such as HLN’s Dr. Drew and NPR, 90 percent of profiles are mostly genuine with minor lies such as height and weight, but she says online profiles are not hard to fake. Spira says there are ways to stay safe while dating online but the best way is to just trust your instincts.
“Look at online dating as a social experiment,” she says. “As a chance to meet new people, make new friends, maybe even fall in love.”
Lauren Baldwin, 25, of Wilmington, says she signed up for the online dating site OKCupid as a way to meet new people after she ended her engagement in 2010. As for catfishing, Baldwin says she once made a fake profile on the website “Seeking Arrangement,” a dating website specifically targeted at females in college.
She says she took pictures from Facebook and pretended to be an 18-year old student at the university in order to catch her then-boyfriend cheating. By finding a few pictures on a social media site, a scammer can create any type of persona they have in mind, Baldwin says.
“It’s like customizing a car before you buy it; you get to pick all the features you want without the hassle of going dealer to dealer to find the right one,” Baldwin says. “But meeting a lasting partner is not like buying a car. Online dating is not real life.”