Sunday, January 20, 2013

Loneliness, Romance and Secrets...

  "This whole thing is so nutsy that I believe it only could have happened at Notre Dame, where mythology trumps common sense on a daily basis. ... Given the choice between reality and fiction, Notre Dame always will choose fiction," sports writer Rick Telander said in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nutsy is right.  At the risk of sounding cynical, I feel the need to ask the question... Have we as a society become so desperate to be loved that we allow ourselves to see things as they are not? Call me old school, but since when does a text or a phone call become a suitable substitution the human touch?  Can we really use the "L" word without even so much as a kiss?  For that matter, do we even know what LOVE truly is?

Since the story broke, like many others, I've been curious to know what that "thing" is that could make someone fall so deeply in love, without so much as meeting in person. To label someone whom you've never even met in person... "your girlfriend?" Publicly? On TV and interviews?  I simply cannot fathom it.  Please don't misunderstand my motives here.  I am not for one moment passing judgement.  I am simply asking the question... how do Te'o and so many others allow themselves to fall so hopelessly in love with someone, whose hand they have yet to hold? I watched the many interviews in which the Notre Dame linebacker passionately described his woman as her knew her as, "the most beautiful girl I ever met..." and "the love of my life...".  In front of millions of football fans, Te'o kneeled to the ground, bowed his head, and said a prayer for the imaginary girlfriend who was to be buried on that very day. And while I realize that there are still many questions surrounding this bizarre quandary, what I saw was a man experiencing real emotion for someone who was a figment of his imagination.

What's even more nuts is that there is now an audience for showcasing the perpetration of people pretending to be someone they are not, and the lies woven to protect the truth at all cost.  "Catfish" the documentary made an astounding $3.5 million dollars that has now spun off into a reality TV show, which is currently in its second season.  Sadly, it follows the lives of so many others who so deeply want to connect with someone, that they are willing to ignore the red flags that wave along the way. The show does in fact bring to light some couples who are able to connect and find the love they desired, but often times than not, the story ends up in the hands of a lonely person perpetrating lies that they never intended to explode horribly out of control. A cruel deception made possible by the innovations of the digital age.

As an advocate for online dating, it breaks my heart to see the lines between the dream of love and reality of finding it, so blurred by trickery.  What can start out as an alluring adventure, sadly turns into an unfathomable sea of verifiable shams.  If all anyone really wants is to be loved, then the question becomes, why not be honest about who we are and what we want?  Since when has a lie become more attractive than the truth, that the perpetrator fails to look ahead to the real moment of truth, when the con comes to light?  Has our reality become so blurred with the glamor and fantasy of Hollywood, that our own lives seem so trivial that we feel forced to create a vision of ourselves that is less than truthful? Why are we not good enough?

Although this story is still unfolding, I cannot begin to imagine the humiliation that Te'o must be experiencing. My reality is, I do know what it is like to have your heart broken.  Many of us do, and can attest to the myriad of sentiments that follow. However, I do not know what it is like to be "Catfished," and I can't imagine that the old school segment of my thought process will ever allow that to happen.  A few online conversations and phone calls are acceptable in the beginning, but there will always be a large part that will quickly forego that illusion for the desire of the human touch. Impatient? Probably so. But the romantic in me but I will always prefer to look deep into his eyes to see the depths of his soul, rather than to check my phone for the sweet sound of his text message. But that's just me...

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