It’s the juiciest news around—because it’s got all the hallmarks of a bad TV show. Except it’s reality. And reality that’s going on behind locked doors in 37 million marriages worldwide. In case you’re late to the party, the news has exploded online: The just-for-cheaters site AshleyMadison.com has been hacked. And the hackers are threatening to post online the personal info of millions of cheaters if the site is not taken down. That, of course, would be the very personal info that cheaters paid good money to have deleted.
Oh yes, this is one bad week for many, many people. (Hey! On the upside, divorce lawyers are gleeful and some areas of the economy may already be seeing a boost—flower sales, alcohol, jewellery, therapists…) But we digress.
Isn’t this just the irony of all ironies? Cheaters, who log on to engage in duplicitous behaviour, are now pointing fingers at the immorality of hackers who may expose their own immorality. Hmmmm. We asked the question on Facebook: Do cheaters deserve what’s coming to them?
As you can imagine, the answers are varied. No one disputes the fact that interfering with a company database (even a loathsome one) is a criminal act, but that’s where agreement ends. Clearly, this topic, which affects many more of us than we are aware of or willing to cop to, pushes buttons really, really hard and it’s no wonder. Between the sanctity of marriage, the secret sex, the intimacy outside of commitment, the morality judgments, and the victimization on so many levels, it’s raging with emotion. We’ve heard many opinions, most of which fall into one of three polarized groups with very different perspectives. Let’s deconstruct.
ASHLEY MADISON HACKED: WHO’S TO BLAME?
1. The Hacker Haters.
This contingent thinks in pretty simple, clear terms. A crime was committed here and it’s not one of passion. (Or maybe it is? We’re not sure who the hackers are and if perhaps they were scorned in some profound way.) What’s non-negotiable is that the hackers are criminals through and through, and they’re the ones who need to be punished. It doesn’t matter what kind of company they hacked or why they did it or what kind of information they want to release. To be clear, it’s not that the haters don’t care about the cheaters or their families or Ashley Madison. It’s that they don’t think they’re relevant to the subject at hand. Their stance is clean and inarguable—to them at least.
Do you think the hackers are most to blame here?
2. The Cheater Blamers.
This group is pretty thrilled that a shady company that makes money hand-over-fist on the (naked) backs of committed people, all by making cheating more accessible than ever before, is being blackmailed into shutting down. The justice is made even sweeter because not only does this insufferable company promote infidelity, it has succeeded in cheating its own users, too. Surprise, surprise. One thing is clear: Cheaters Never Prosper. Did the sneaks really expect protection from a company whose tagline is Life is Short. Have an Affair? Not to mention the inviolable rule of thumb for the Internet: If you don’t want people to see it, don’t post it. Folks, cheating is risky business and if you do it, there’s a good chance you’ll get caught. Outed. Shamed. Even if you use a private site. So don’t blame a slimy company or hackers hating on it for your downfall. If you’re going to do the dastardly deed, you’ve gotta sleep in that messy bed. Go ahead and call them the Morality Police but this group wears the badge with honour, along with a certainty—presumption?—that people want to know if their spouse is cheating, even if it’s announced publicly, because these types of secrets ruin lives.
Do you think Karma really does suck for these cheaters?
3. The Victim Protectors.
And then there’s the last voice: The Empathizers. In their opinion, when the details of affairs become public fodder, the collateral damage turns the families into victims. They don’t care a whit about what happens to the cheaters or Ashley Madison or the hackers because it’s not their right to judge. Instead, they’re worrying about the pain that results from such a public outing, and they’re sure of this: What happens in private isn’t anyone’s business anyway. The protectors are concerned about people’s marriages and whether or not spouses even want to know about cheating. They believe that no one has the right to sit in judgment of anyone else’s relationship or life situation. The bottom line: It’s not up to anyone to release personal information that’s harmful to anyone else. Marital business is always between the people directly involved. Period.
Do you think we should reserve judgment and leave truth-telling to the couples involved? So let’s chat: Which group to you belong to and why? Join the conversation in our Insiders Facebook group and have your say in the comments below.