Online dating is here to stay….that much is for sure. From its infancy in the mid nineties, it has become the de facto way to hook up in the 21st century. Ever-secretive, online communities cater to every avenue available – and have always included safe places for people to cheat on their partners.
With the promise of anonymity, Ashley Madison claims: “Life is short. Have an affair”
The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy reported that more than half of all married men and women have an affair at least once in their lives. Cheating must be in, since these figures have doubled over the last 10 years. Social factors like longer hours and lighter salaries have pushed the affair trend upward, while technology – which we think brings us closer together – isolates us and can tear us apart. Nevertheless, people seem to be more aware and concerned than ever about how their personal information is stored and used, which seems at odds with the nearly universal need to find friendship, love or sex online.
The very recent hack of Ashley Madison is a perfect example of the illusion of secrecy we still have when we think about the things we would like kept private. So what was the hackers main beef? Some moral issue about polyamory? A jilted husband or wife out for revenge? Well no, actually, it was because the company acted unethcially with personal data. They charged a 20 dollar service fee that they claimed would permanently erase all of their personal data. These fees racked up millions for the company, but in reality of course, they have no delete key. People used their credit cards to purchase the service when they had had their fun and wanted out. Of course, this is the very info they needed to protect.
Now, as the private info of all these people continues to leak, we might be tempted to have a laugh at these cheaters who got caught. And we then might consider how many marriages will be destroyed, or the domestic violence that will ensue when these bombs drop. But before we do, let’s stop and think for a minute. While most of these cheaters totally deserve to get caught, a question pops up: How long do we have before everyone’s secret kink is exposed and known to all as just one more detail to our biographies?