Ashley Madison

Today’s lunch discussion was about the hacking of Ashley Madison. Many people were amused. Some said that it was just karma. For me, there are separate aspects to it:

  1. Privacy – It doesn’t matter what was going on. The customers were promised privacy. The hacking destroyed that promise. [I am not happy with our inclination to trust the cloud, or to trust any large and integrated system with tons of personal data. Yes, the world is headed that way. Internet of things and big data are both fun. In theory, no provider wants to harm you personally and your data is safe. In theory, you know the risks you are running. In practice, there is always someone willing and able to hack, and to ruin thousands of lives just because they can. In practice, you never can quite foresee the amount of damage that can happen. Some matters are more irrevocable than credit card fraud.]
  2. Adultery (without the knowledge of the spouse) made up  huge portion of their customer-base, but that wasn’t all that their customers were interested in. I know a few couples who regularly ‘swing’ or exchange partners for variety. They are comfortable with their arrangement. They are, understandably, not comfortable with the rest of the world (vindictive ex-es, bosses, neighbours, kids, the list goes on) getting to see this information out in the open.
  3. There are professional and social consequences from an exposure like this. Personal matters should stay between the people concerned, and it shouldn’t spill over into other aspects of their lives, unless it is impairing their ability to be sane, safe and sensible in company. I feel sad if the devoted spouse was cheated upon, but it should never be a reason to drag that injustice into social or professional venues.
  4. Emotional consequences of infidelity are terrifying. It is easy to say that cheaters will cheat and that they deserve what they get, but I find that it is nothing so straightforward as that. Sometimes we are willing to let things be, for the greater good, or for selfish reasons, or because we believe it won’t happen again. Having the data out on the internet ruins that chance at reparations and relationship patches.
  5. Children. Think of the children. School is terrifying enough without adding in bullying over the fact that your parent cheated and that everyone has seen the information on the internet. Society is terrifying enough without being labelled as that child. Every action, every youthful folly judged with the parent’s behavior as baseline can drive even the most level-headed kid out of his/her mind.

There is a great deal of unhappiness that lingers for a very long time after learning of broken trust. Sometimes the love that is left is enough to get over the experience, but more often than not, only time and distance help.

Cheating is rarely personal. We need attention, we need to feel a connection, we need to feel understood, we need to feel attractive, we are full of insecurities, we are psychopathic and like to break those who are devoted to us – there are so many reasons why we could be tempted. Most of the reasons induce pity than anger. In most cases, we have already cheated (ourselves and those we promised trust to) long before an affair.