The Ashley Madison hack resulted in 30 million or so potentially unfaithful mates having their email addresses, phone numbers, credit card, and physical address information published yesterday. I’m the very last person in America who’s going to go on a moralistic rant about the virtue or vice of infidelity. It’s not like the internet made cheating possible, but it did make it theoretically easier to do so if you were inclined to stray. Now thanks to a band of supposedly holier than thou hackers, millions of people get to wonder if their other shoe is ever going to drop.
First off, if you’re having or planning to have an affair and don’t have a throwaway cell phone and a pre-paid credit card you’re probably too stupid to get away with it. If you’re in a relationship and use your real name and home address to register for a cheating site, you probably deserve to get caught. Even so, getting jammed up in an enormous program of data theft is a pretty crummy way to get caught – especially if you never went through with the act, or it’s something from your life long past.
Ironically perhaps, as a perennially single guy, I can see some compelling advantages to dating a married or otherwise involved woman – especially if you’re not the type who’s looking for an extensive commitment. You’ve got no worries about being drug somewhere you don’t want to be for the holidays. There are no pesky in-laws. You’re not the jackass that didn’t take the trash out or who shrunk a load of laundry or who hasn’t had more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep in the last six years. You’re the guy who gets to go out and have a nice meal in and a great bottle of wine. Or the one who gets to enjoy the excitement of walking into a cheap motel room in the middle of the day. Or the one who’s there when the weekend “business trip” becomes three days of playing house in some location distant enough from home that no one would suspect anything beyond business as usual.
Anyone, married or single, who signs up for a site like Ashley Madison has their reasons. I’m not the one who’s going to cast a judgment on any of them. People have an expectation of privacy online, even when it’s a false one. All this latest story does is reinforce that there is very little in our lives that is truly private – and it’s becoming less and less private all the time. Then again that’s really only a problem if you aren’t willing to take ownership of who you are and what you do.
Know thyself and the world is your oyster.