When I first heard of what Ashley Madison was, I was admittedly a little abhorred. Cheating and affairs have always had a negative connotation, and here was a site that was not only promoting cheating on your significant other, but rather glorifying it.
To no surprise, the general reaction from the media and other outlets wasn’t that much different from my own; FOX disallowing their television spots to air during the Super Bowl, even if they were willing to shell out the millions of dollars necessary for 20-30 seconds of air time; even the jock-iest of jocks talking about online, their general apprehension of their spouses/significant others hearing it and having that seed planted in their heads. Accounts of those who have already heard/seen advertising, and re-telling of the awkward silences between them and their others as the idea pervaded their brains, never to leave again.
Morally, I think the idea of Ashley Madison is horrible, and wrong on so many levels. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive to the idea of someone cheating on me, but to think there are sites and resources out there that not only facilitate the act, but glorify it, and try to justify it is just really, really wrong. The worst part is that they’re a pretty frequent sponsor to the Howard Stern Sirius channels, meaning I’m subject to their radio spots pretty often. But it says something, when Howard Stern himself, who has done personal advertisement readings for businesses from sex shops to car dealerships to CougarLife.com, hasn’t done one for Ashley Madison.
Recently, I got to thinking about Ashley Madison, and sites like it, and then it dawned on me what they really were: niches within the online dating community for lonely people looking for other lonely people, just like anyone who would log onto Match.com, eHarmony.com, etc, etc. Except, Ashley Madison has a prerequisite that at least one party has to be in a pre-existing, evidently unsatisfying relationship, so that it may be construed as legitimate cheating or an affair. Ashley Madison is nothing but eHarmony for cheaters! CougarLife.com is Match.com for cougars! OnlineBootyCall.com is Zoosk.com for people who just want sex!
Obviously, my stance on online dating are well-documented at this point. But having comes to the revelation that Ashley Madison is just a specialized sub-clone of any other dating site, I don’t have as much ill-feeling towards site anymore. If anything at all, I feel a little bit of pity for Ashley Madison users, because they’ve fallen into the same trap as all others who have resorted to online dating – arranging trysts in the real physical world have become impossible for them too.
What was once the days of a chance encounter and the animalistic attraction to the point where one or both parties can be seduced away from the arrangement of a pre-existing relationship, resulting in hot, steamy, devious extra-marital relations; the clandestinely sexy art of sneaking around on a partner, is now resorted to the same thing that people looking for a future spouse, people looking for a fling, or people looking for a cougar are doing. Conveniently, solitarily sitting behind a screen, and clicking through profiles, reading unoriginal self-written bios, looking at Photoshopped, cherry-picked pictures, and trying to weed out potential people, whom in this case happen to be unhappily married or attached, to fuck.
Not nearly as sexy and empowering as knowing that you’ve seduced another to the point where such prior attachments aren’t worth keeping sacred, now is it? Trying to send racy pictures and dying to sext* each other, but the sites are not allowing personal contact information to be given, and the fact that there’s a middleman in the first place. Or getting close to arranging a tryst for that anticipating naughty start to a tawdry affair, but then for it all to be denied because one party’s membership has reached its message limit, or expired outright. It just doesn’t sound quite the same as how it might’ve been done in the real physical world, in “olden days.”
Having come to this realization, I suppose “naughty” dating sites aren’t nearly as morally compromising as I had initially believed them to be, and if anything at all, the concepts of them, seem kind of, well, unfortunate.
*My face kind of dropped when I typed in the word “sext,” and Word doesn’t put a red line under it. It’s actual vocabulary now, according to Microsoft. wtf.