As someone who blogs and snarks about infidelity, the Ashley Madison data hack is like some cosmic gift.
First there is the gobsmacking irony of Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman’s outrage. Apparently the hack may be an inside job. No, you mean someone you trusted stole something precious of yours, Noel? And their selfish whims and unilateral decisions destroyed your world? Say it isn’t so!
Next, there is the schadenfreude of seeing 9.7 gigabytes of cheater stupidity on flamboyant display. Cheater, you used your workplace email? Seriously?
While cybertheft is no laughing matter, it is hard to gin up a lot of sympathy for JesusSpanksMe57 or whomever and their double lives. Not that commentators haven’t tried. I’ve read several hand-wringing articles about how the exposure may lead to suicide and job dismals.
Instead of sympathy for the poor sausages who dating profiled their way into this mess, how about sympathy for the poor chumps who are just discovering the secret lives of their spouses? The people who discover the betrayal, the missing funds, the years of deceit may be suicidal. Those folks may be catatonic at work the next day. If anyone’s world is being rocked right now, it’s theirs.
Whatever their suffering, however, in my opinion it is better than living in darkness, unaware that the person they most trusted has been cheating on them. If hackers know anything, it’s that knowledge is power. As rude and illegal as the hack was, its a gift to unknowing chumps everywhere.
What’s surprised me most about the hack is how quickly the information has traveled. Faster than you can say “Noel Biderman is crapping his pants,” free Ashley Madison indexes have sprung up everywhere. No one could possible scrub this. It would be like a ginormous game of Whack-a-Mole.
Which all goes to underscore points I’ve made about cheating that contradict the vogue notions that cheating is but a trifle — a desire to feel more alive, an “exuberant act of defiance.” If the enormity of the data dump teaches us anything about cheaters, it’s that:
1. Affairs don’t “just happen” — they’re planned. No one accidentally fills out detailed dating profiles and leaves their credit card.
2. The exit affair or the one-night-stand are not the rules, they are the exceptions. Judging by colossal size of membership from just one site we can conclude that cheaters are recurrent and repeat offenders. Serial cheating is a lifestyle for many.
3. Serial cheating is about entitlement. Special people don’t need precautions (or condoms). Special people don’t get caught. Special people are entitled to double lives because their need for excitement outweighs their chumps’ well-being.
Special, that is, until the day they’re busted.
Tracy Schorn is a blogger and cartoonist at Chump Lady and the author of the forthcoming book “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life — The Chump Lady’s Survival Guide” (Running Press 2016).
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