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The Ashley Madison Affair: when cheating becomes news

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The Ashley Madison Affair: when cheating becomes news

The Ashley Madison Affair: when cheating becomes news
August 26
12:44 2015

Ashley Madison is an infamous website that unashamedly promotes and indeed facilitates infidelity. Its catch line “Life is short. Have an affair”, emphasises the blatant disregard for ethical or moral concerns regarding cheating and betrayal.

Until recently, Ashley Madison was not topical news and its subscribers had the anonymity and discretion that the website promised. But the facade of privacy was shattered when Ashley Madison was hacked and the personal details of its users entered the public domain. For some aspects of the mainstream media – the Ashley Madison story is an encounter made in tabloid heaven. Salacious and tantalising. Many media outlets revel in revealing the names and habits of some of the more well-known users of the site.

It could be argued that the hacking of Ashley Madison is justified because it exposes liars who hide behind the guise of respectability. Just like WikiLeaks exposed hypocritical politicians, the Ashley Madison hacking has unveiled hypocritical partners. Thus the hacking of a notorious website could be viewed as a public service. Certainly the Ashley Madison affair has sensational aspects to it and it is hard to feel sorry for its immoral founder and millions of its subscribers. The immorality, hypocrisy and cowardice of its users cannot be admired.

However, for friends and families of the subscribers it must feel overwhelming to discover unpalatable truths in such a public and highly-charged way. The public shaming of cheating partners may elicit righteous fervour in some quarters, but it also highlights the prevalence of voyeurism. The public appetite in dissecting other people’s marriages is concerning. There was a time when “minding your own business” was appreciated and valued, but now everyone feels justified in delving into the private lives of others. The popularity of reality TV shows and individuals vlogging about their own lives has created an unhealthy obsession with the minutiae of strangers’ lives.

Furthermore, the scrutiny levelled against alleged users of Ashley Madison has had serious consequences. According to the BBC, two alleged users of the website have committed suicide after their details were leaked. Although the hackers may feel they have a moral duty to disclose the details of people who have violated their marriage vows, it will not necessarily deter other people from setting up similar websites. Infidelity is often glorified in books, films and popular culture. Most people have a visceral disdain for cheating because it personifies betrayal and disloyalty. However, do we – the general public – really need to know about the personal failings of others?

The hacking of Ashley Madison creates more problems than it solves. Infidelity is inexcusable and is a form of cowardice, but so is revelling in the misery and flaws of others…

By Mussarrat Shaheen
© TheMYN.uk 2015

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2 Comments

  1. Ameera
    Ameera August 28, 14:08

    Once again, the topic discussed has many different perspectives and you offered me one that I did not consider before. Although, the hackers may be seen as doing something good and morally correct, is it acceptable to risk lives by exposing the users of the site? Excellent article.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lyba
    Lyba August 28, 16:16

    A modern problem summed up lovely. Affairs have far reaching consequences and being caught out eventually is highly likely. Think and think again before embarking on this sorry road. It affects more than just the culprits

    Reply to this comment

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