Dear Tell All: People are getting on their high horse about the Facebook hoax involving Notre Dame football player Manti T'eo. Manti initially had no idea (so he says) that the girlfriend he only knew from online chats was a fake. Now everyone is wondering how perpetrators can be so cruel as to do something like this, and how victims can be so stupid as to fall for it. Well, I understand it completely, having been a "perpetrator" myself.
It started with my friends and I fooling around on Omegle.com, which makes it easy to anonymously chat with strangers. With one click you're talking live with somebody from somewhere, and if you want to do it as a 32-year-old single woman from Kansas named Susan (my favorite character, though I'm a male), you can. There's no chance of getting caught, other than letting your own words betray you.
It's as addictive as fishing: You try to get the guy (and it's always a guy) on the other end to believe you're "Susan," and you try to keep him on the hook for as long as you can with the faint possibility of romance. I sometimes do it at home, alone, when I'm bored. You can easily waste an hour starting new chats, weeding out the idiots looking for raunchy Facebook hookups, and finding the one guy in a dozen who really wants to talk. He's the guy who might actually believe you're who you say you are. It's a thrill, and I'd argue that it's basically harmless.
While I've had chats that go on screen after screen, I've never taken it to the next level by asking a guy to meet "me" on email, Facebook or the phone. That would definitely be crossing the border into immoral behavior. I try to let the guys down gently at the end of a long conversation, and I wouldn't be surprised if they've had as much fun as I have.
Dear "Susan": I don't have much space left to respond, so I'll limit myself to one word: Ewww. Readers, let me know what you think of "Susan" and "her" fellow fakers.
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