Quick Takes: Online Dating


Isolated Case is Unrepresentative of Online Relationships in General

Match.com and eHarmony singles should not cancel their memberships just yet. Manti Te’o’s case was entirely unique and not representative of online relationships in general — he was specifically targeted by his ex-friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, in this bizarre hoax.

Te’o was not actively looking for a partner online, unlike users on dating sites. He and Kekua’s (really Tuiasosopo) first interaction was via Twitter in October 2011, and Tuiasosopo specifically planned on grabbing Te’o’s attention. Mild flirting evolved into an official relationship in January 2012. Te’o was not on Twitter for love, and Tuiasosopo was not on Twitter to tweet — the hoax that resulted was a preconceived plan for Tuiasosopo to date Te’o behind the face of the Internet.

This was an exclusive case, so singles online should not discredit the effectiveness of online dating. According to Match.com, the number of people using online dating sites has doubled since 2007, and each year, 17 percent of all married couples meet online. Online dating eradicates first-date jitters (having already “met” online) and saves valuable time with its goal-oriented outlook. Users on eHarmony must complete 100 questions prior to even being entered into the 500-variable algorithm that matches singles based on compatibility. Tuiasosopo worked from a Twitter account, by which there were no preliminary “walks on the beach or hike[s] through the forest” questions.

The Te’o case has little relevance to the realm of online dating. For online singles, the virtual cupid is still very much alive.

— Cedric Eicher
Opinion Editorial Assistant

Keeping Love Exclusively Online is Dangerous with Internet’s Anonymity

Relationships that take place exclusively online often spark skepticism. Manti Te’o’s lengthy relationship with his nonexistent cyber girlfriend has revived the negative attitudes concerning online dating. People shouldn’t maintain relationships solely online because others use the Internet to conceal their identity, making online relationships dangerous playgrounds for deception.

The issue is that anyone can be a victim of this sort of ruse — the Internet offers a scary level of anonymity. According to the 2007 study “The Truth About Lying in Online Dating Profiles,” 81 percent of online daters lie about their age, height or weight. Women have a tendency to falsify their weight, while men exaggerate their height. Regardless of how trivial these lies may be, they can take on the snowball effect and begin creating a chimerical person, like in Manti Te’o’s case. It becomes easier to create successive falsities especially when relationships are kept online because they don’t have to take responsibility for their dishonesty in person.

The “halo effect” fuels these compounding lies. As stated by Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein, this phenomenon happens when a person is seen to possess an appealing characteristic like physical attractiveness and then assumed to have other favorable traits such as good character. Te’o fell victim to the halo effect, in part because he valued the nightlong companionship he had with her through the phone. This effect causes people to ignore red flags.

Many want to believe in serendipity, but the Internet is no haven for such a naive mentality.

— Shannon Kang
Contributing Writer

Background Checks and Common Sense Key to Successful Online Dating

Manti Te’o had been with girlfriend Lennay Kekua since 2009 without ever seeing her face-to-face. Te’o may have been the victim of an online dating hoax, but this isn’t to say that online dating doesn’t work for everyone. The keys to success are vigilance and common sense.

In 2011, ABC News released an article with precautions and tips on online dating, one of which was to background check the name of the person on the profile. In January, investigators’ background checks found no databases with the name of Lennay Kekua, and the address that Kekua had given to Te’o belonged to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the hoax. An earlier background check or Google search on Kekua could have prevented Te’o’s long-term deception.

An article from Dr. Phil’s website noted that traumatic experiences, deaths and cancer are strong warning signs that could be used as ways to avoid meeting up. Kekua not only avoided every meet-up with Te’o; she also used falling into a coma and leukemia as excuses to avoid speaking to him on the phone. These red flags should have caused him to reconsider the validity of this girl he had supposedly met on Facebook.

As Te’o now knows post-hoax, profiles can be fabricated, photos can be stolen, and voices over the phone can be falsified like the falsetto that Tuiasosopo used to sound like a woman. However, online dating still works for those who can apply some common sense before falling for a person that may not even exist.

— Lauren Koa
Staff Writer

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