You be the judge if you feel I was too hard on my relative.
My relative is a young, handsome, well educated man with a great job. He certainly is a great catch for young women anywhere.
Since I didn’t know he had a girlfriend, I was trying to help him meet attractive young women at a wedding we recently attended. Since he is so busy at work, he has very little time to meet women. I was just trying to help him and, perhaps, give him few pointers.
I was kind of surprised since he has never mentioned this to me before. So I asked him to prove it. He proceeds to take out his smartphone and shows me a picture of his girlfriend.
All I saw in the picture was a fuzzy image of a girl at some company event he attended. He was not even in the picture together with her, so I didn’t take it seriously.
When I pressed him further he told me wonderful things about her which was quite impressive but I have no way of knowing whether any of it is true. I told him directly, much to his chagrin, that I can’t consider the girl in the picture he showed me to be his girlfriend based on only one picture where he is not even in it.
He was not pleased that I was not buying his girlfriend story but what could he really do to convince me? He tried hard and failed.
I had not given much thought of this incident till I recently read about the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax. It is everywhere.
The incident with my relative happened a month before the Te’o hoax was exposed.
My relative, to his credit, didn’t make up anything as wild as his girlfriend being in a car accident, or her fighting cancer, or being found dead.
So why did everyone take Manti Te’o’s girlfriend so seriously when there was not even one picture of them together? I can understand that friends will believe just about anything one tells them, but parents? I am not a parent and was very curious to know about my relative's girlfriend. Perhaps I am bit too nosy.
In my relative's case I peppered my relative with all kinds of questions and I realized quickly that he had no girlfriend the way I think of a girlfriend. She may be his friend on Facebook, or someone he may have said "hi" to at work or seen at work in the elevator, but that really does not constitute a girlfriend.
Young people brought up on Internet often view Internet relationships as more real than real relationships. Some, I am sure, don’t even consider real relationships a relationship since it is complicated, requires lot of work and commitment. They are not willing or capable of doing this.
For example, Manti Teo never went to see his girlfriend when she was supposedly involved in a car accident, nor did he attend her funeral when she supposedly died of cancer. Only thing you can conclude from this is that one of the big advantage of having an Internet girlfriend is that they require no maintenance, time or investment. They become very convenient when you need a story to win a Heisman trophy or, in my relative’s case, use it as an excuse from talking to a young woman.
The problem is that young people believe they can have it it all --- a career, fun, lot of friends and a steady convenient girlfriend --- and with Internet, I guess all is possible.
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping startups and established firms bring innovation to market within 90 days through our unique 5Tool Methodology that integrates sales, marketing, partnerships, customer development and agile/lean methodology to enable frugal or ("Jugaad") innovation. We believe that to succeed today, you have to continuously look for ways to do lot more with lot less. This is the only way to win today!