Last week came a news item from the world of sports that got my attention.

Last week came a news item from the world of sports that got my attention. A Notre Dame football player found himself at the center of a very weird revelation.

The star linebacker said his girlfriend had died of leukemia, which was a terribly sad story. It got a lot sadder when revealed she wasnít a real human girlfriend. Whoa, Pinocchio!

As the story developed it bored deeper down the rabbit hole. This guy had apparently maintained a long "relationship" by phone and computer without actually having any physical contact with a real woman.

Everybodyís aware that we humans and technology are becoming interchangeable on some levels. I have lens implants in both eyes. But with this story we have a case of human-tech interactions seeping into emotional realms.

Certainly relationships can flow through electronic mediums but I canít imagine substituting foreplay with rebooting. When I was his age, things were so much simpler.

My normal dating "relationships" generally germinated at drive-in movies or on blankets under the stars at our beaches. Those were "Wake up Little Suzie" days and were very, very wonderful.

As I roll this new world around my mind, I realize just how out of touch I am with this cyber century.

Reality is being blended with the digital, creating a tenuous matrix through which young people comfortably float. And as a more sobering byproduct, generation "X" seems to be developing overblown herd instincts.

Is independence and uniqueness being sacrificed upon the altar of homogenization? Sometimes I think young folks are so compliant and easily led theyíre becoming carbon-based smoothies.

Many movie and sports stars have a lot of "followers" on Twitter. That paints a picture of hordes of young folks waiting for "tweets."

But what if some popular Twitters are complete idiots? Surely their fingers arenít smarter than their brains, yet following herds hang on their every truncated sentence. Maybe elimination of vowels makes their words brighter. Oh yeah.

"Facebook" rides a similar wave. People post when they have a headache or make a sandwich. This stuff reeks of serious inter-dependency.

We can be pretty sure this blending and blurring of reality and software will continue until itís considered normal to become half embedded into cyber life like a pomegranate seed. Thatís apparently what was going on with this football player.

On the bright side, thereíll be interesting residue from this Matrix concoction. Might somebody attack his roommate because he catches him in bed with the wrong iPad?

Will you hear compliments about somebodyís huge bandwidth? Would the invitation ever be proffered, "Your Facebook or mine?"

Cyber dating would definitely be simpler and certainly a lot cheaper over real-world romances. Just download your dream companion, insert your flash drive and then kick back with a virtual cigarette.

Maybe this Notre Dame football player is the bellwether of the future, induction into the growing army of young lemmings. Itís entertaining on some levels but extremely sad where I live.

Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at