You can neither belittle nor deny the human cost from this exposé as the would-be adulterers are caught out, nor make light of the ensuing personal tragedies, broken hearts and families who are left to pick up the pieces. What I seriously question is whether we’ve actually learnt anything new here other than the smack-me-in-the-face obvious fact that there are a lot more people cheating on partners than perhaps we ever thought.
Here’s some stuff we already knew…
Those who want to cheat, will.
There’s nothing new to see here…no amount of snooping, couple’s counseling, private detecting, controlling, going through mobile phones, keeping tabs or denial is going to stop someone who wants to cheat from cheating. End of story. Ashley Madison (AM) – a Canada-based online dating and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship, has been filling a need and (an obviously rampant) desire to be unfaithful. In no way am I standing up for them or their shameless tagline “Life is short, have an affair” call to action – but they didn’t invent cheating. Sure, social media and the online world are infidelity lubricants, a virtual KY jelly if you will. But, if a gap in the market exists, there’s nothing surer than it will get filled. Sex sells, whether it’s monogamous or adulterous – and Ashley Madison simply made it easier and more accessible for people to play out their cheating fantasies. Sure, their scruples are questionable but remember, if a cheater wants to cheat – they will regardless.
And, some are better at it than others
‘Don’t cheat – but if you’re going to, don’t get caught’….Ahhhh that old chestnut! Well we’ve established people will cheat if they want to, so then it just comes down to being better (read, smarter) at getting away with it. Now sure, none of the AM users EXPECTED that their private information would be leaked – especially after some paid supplemental fees to actually have their data removed from the AM records permanently and with no trace (only to find out now, that hadn’t happened!). Now, pardon me for stating the obvious, but Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! accounts are dinosaurs of the digital world – setting up a private email address for questionable online behaviour of ANY kind is surely Online Anonymity 101? Incredibly, there’s a crazy amount of government, military and other obvious work email addresses involved in this leak. Is there a correlation with getting busted and intelligence levels? Let’s look at the countries on the top of the Ashley Madison scoreboard and their relating stupidity. Not only are our gorging waistlines following the ever-expanding ones of the land of stars and stripes, but it now seems Australia is approaching a par with the US in blind stupidity (I’m refraining from references to the Donald Trump as a legitimate presidential candidate and gun control debates as examples here). Coming in at third (Sydney) and sixth (Melbourne) spot on the Ashley Madison user list of shame, it seems that Australia might just be following suit. New lesson? I think not…Infidelity and carelessness do not go hand in hand.
Cheaters deserve to be caught (no new lesson here, either!)…So what’s the REAL issue?
Nothing new so far…so what are the lessons and issues raised from the Ashley Madison controversy? Well, it’s shone a Batman-to-Gotham-City- SOS sized spotlight on the issue of just how many people will jump on board the Philandering Express if it’s made easier for them via virtual pimps like Ashley Madison. But, casting blatantly obvious morality issues aside (not because I don’t have 100 per cent ‘uncool’ rule on cheating but because the case is open and shut), the exponentially concerning issue is really around how vulnerable we are in this new digital age when it comes to privacy and safeguarding personal information. And this issue is a ‘now’ issue, not a future one. Ashley Madison, for all its smirk-worthy satisfaction over busting the unfaithful, is a downright scary example of protection of private information gone very, very wrong.
One only needs look at the bottom of their homepage (above) to see all the ‘secure’ certificates which are obviously just window dressing in a day and age where privacy of information should be of utmost importance. And, to those who brush this off as an ‘extreme example’, well it’s not…Think about the magnitude of a privacy breech involving Facebook, which as of the second quarter of 2015, had 1.49 billion monthly active users. There’s an impending Armageddon-sized problem here that needs to be addressed globally.
So, while these vexed conversations continue, let’s not forget the many innocent people involved and those, who for many years to come, will be left dealing with their now broken lives. And to those of you out there thinking about cheating, well, do what you will, but expect in this day and age that you’ll get caught and don’t be so righteously shocked when you do…