Philanderers who bought into AshleyMadison.com's motto that "life's too short" and you should "have an affair" will probably have to come clean to their spouses soon considering the website for the unfaithful has been hacked by a group that's trying to shut them down.
The hackers, who refer to themselves as The Impact Team, claim they have all the juicy tidbits regarding the 37 million AshleyMadison.com customers. They're willing to leak everything from nude pictures to credit card information unless the website's Canadian parent, Avid Life Media, does away with its entire operation.
The news came a few days after Gawker revealed their own internal chaos by publishing an unethical and ridiculously salacious expose on a media executive's sex life. The story was such a prime example of irresponsible reporting that I refuse to disclose the details in my own writing. Gawker later took the story down, but the damage was done.
The two stories highlight the main plan of attack that exists in America when someone is out to get you. We all have skeletons in our closet, and technology has made it increasingly easy for people to reveal our indiscretions, or our normal behavior that people want to pretend is abnormal. Turns out everyone is a little like Pitbull. We're all squirrels looking for a nut, but we love to pretend like we're above getting our rocks off.
The shaming happens on a micro-scale in the form of revenge porn, which is why I'd rather get tortured like Game of Throne's Theon Greyjoy before I film myself doing anything naked. But it also happens on a macro-scale when the government spies on the type of porn people watch in order to discredit them.
Top secret documents from 2012 show that the NSA was keeping track of adult films that "radical extremists" were watching in an effort to undermine them. Considering the fact that the NSA is indiscriminately spying on American citizens, it's not far fetched to expect them to do the same thing to political activists or anyone else who dares to question authority.
Bankers can destroy the economy, politicians can screw over the people they're supposed to represent, and police can kill unarmed people, but nothing will rile Americans up like a good old sex scandal. Part of it has to do with how simple it is to comprehend lascivious behavior, and the other part has to do with our puritanical society.
We're taught to be ashamed of sex, even though it's sold to us in every way imaginable. I can't even go for a simple run in my neighborhood without some woman's ass greeting me on a billboard selling 138 Water. We celebrate explicit material in movies, terribly written books like 50 Shades of Grey, and in music. So why can't we be more understanding when the details of someone's sex life are leaked?
Just for full disclosure, I despise cheaters. I've been cheated on, and it was probably the most painful thing I've had to overcome. But that doesn't mean someone else's infidelity or porn habits is any of my business. I don't know the stories of the 37 million people on AshleyMadison.com. I don't know the dynamics of their relationships, or who they really are as individuals. So as much as I abhor dishonesty and infidelity, I hate invasions of privacy more.
So if The Impact Team thinks it's doing a public service by outing cheaters, or if Gawker thinks it's journalistic integrity wasn't compromised by publishing a ridiculous smear piece, they're both wrong. Because in reality, using sex to destroy someone's life is much worse than being an unfaithful partner.