Between infidelity and cyber-vandalism, the lesser of two evils is unclear. What is clear, however, is that cyber-vandalism against an infidelity website is of little concern to many AshleyMadison.com users.
As you may have heard, the online extramarital platform, which claims 37 million subscribers, has been reeling from a recent security breach. The most recent data dump included 36 million email addresses for 33 million accounts, along with user names, first and last names, the last four digits of credit cards, personal IP addresses, street addresses and phone numbers for a large number of them—of them were 10,000 government officials’ emails. In total, the hackers released 10GB of compressed data. Krebs on Security, which monitors data hacks, reported that the group says it will continue to leak records unless Avid Life Media, Inc., which owns Ashley Madison, takes the affair site offline “permanently in all forms.”
But Ashley Madison is still very much online, permanently in all forms. I created an account as a single woman to scope the stragglers, most of whom have heard very little about the imminent infringement upon their privacy, and many of whom seek illicit side-action with zero f*cks left to give regardless. The bartender announced last call, the lights came on and these are the lingering dudes, sipping fallen soldiers and offering lascivious winks to parting women. Here are 10 things I learned from virtually kicking it with male members while Semisonic’s “Closing Time” warned us, “You don’t have to go home [to your significant others], but you can’t stay here [because we were hacked].”
Most guys I encountered said their sex lives are simply too vanilla, or as one man married for 16 years explained, since having children, “Life sucks and my wife does not.”
1. The business model is insidiously clever.
The company, which offers advice on how to cover your tracks, touts its motto: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Male members do not pay for a subscription to search, but they have to pay for “credits” to send messages or virtual gifts. Women don’t pay a dime. Select your relationship status, your limits, some photos that can be made public or kept private—you can paste a bar or masquerade mask to conceal your identity, or choose to blur your image for optimal deception—and then share your sexual fantasies and turn-ons. You send a “key” to prospects to view your private photos (access can be revoked), then seduce them with a methodically crafted message and, theoretically, get laid. For more details, check out How Ashley Madison Actually Works.
2. Not one of the men with whom I spoke was even aware of the hack…
One would assume that cheaters operating clandestine initiatives would do research to safeguard confidentiality as a precautionary measure, but that’s simply not the case. Of the approximately 25 men I chatted, almost everyone replied with the exact two words, “What hack?” When I shared a link to any one of the headlines pervading my news feed, I asked, “What if your wife finds out?” sometimes accompanied with an insincere :\ for added empathy. “Well I don’t have my name on it, so hopefully she wont…If you don’t tell her…Hopefully you’re not planning to…?” one man questioned. Another presumably lied, “Well she already knows so whatever,” because he immediately revoked my private privileges.
3. Ashley Madison is a breeding ground for smart scammers.
It’s a platform populated with people who want sex, but don’t want to get caught—that’s an invitation for hoaxers who oftentimes ask men to courteously verify their identities via ticket sites that ask for credit card details. Despite the major Ashley Madison hack scheme infiltrating the Internet, only one man in Thailand seemed to be concerned about scams. During our conversation (he was evidently two-timing me), he was also Skyping a US-based woman who recorded the call and threatened to upload it on Facebook if he failed to send her a requested $700 USD wire transfer via Western Union. He had to cut our conversation short when he immediately deleted his profile out of fear that his striptease would appear on Facebook.
4. Some cheaters still “love” their wives and believe infidelity will “save” their marriages.
All of men told me they do, in fact, love their wives “very much.” Most guys I encountered said their sex lives are simply too vanilla, or as one man married for 16 years explained, since having children, “Life sucks and my wife does not.” They intend to preserve their marriages by seeking outlets for sexual frustration elsewhere…
5. Cheating is not so much about the sex, but rather the sexual ego.
Most of the men admitted that married women turn them on, explaining that a married woman’s desire for them is an ego boost. They lack lust in their relationships at home and long to be longed for. A single 37-year-old who doesn’t use non-extramarital dating sites, explained: “Idc if you have a bf, kind of turns me on a little. U rather be with me then him. Not looking to change your situation.”
6. Vaginas are just vaginas. Age is just a number. And these people mean business.
For the period of time that my profile photos were pending approval, I received about 20 messages. Men asked to exchange numbers without knowing what I look like, and not one man born decades before my time gave thought to the extensive age gap. Some only agreed to answer my questions in exchange for some of that fellatio (at which point our interactions ended). But as nauseating as that was, they were more honest with me than their own wives.
7. Ashley Madison users are highly Socratic.
My first approach to Ashley Madison was professional, immediately making other users aware that I am a journalist with no intentions of meeting anyone; that failed miserably. However, those who didn’t block me instead evaded my questions and attempted to turn the “interview” around on me. I’d ask them what brings them to Ashley Madison, letting them know I was curious, and they’d come back with, “Maybe you’re curious because you haven’t found a man to treat you right in the bedroom. Are you a virgin?” or “You’re curious 😉 Are you bisexual?” or “Are you curious enough to meet me?” The answering-a-question-with-a-question method didn’t work on me, but I applaud the effort (I don’t).
8. Cheaters are sometimes pathological liars.
It’s no surprise that people who live lies aren’t somehow coerced into believing their own lies. But very few users admitted to creating a profile to actively seek an affair. Some blamed drunk dares; others blamed curiosity but assured they’d never act, that they’d only talked to one or two women…or three or seven. “My friends dared me to sign up, jokes on them because it’s their credit card…” You fool no one, sir.
9. Most cheaters don’t think cheating is cheating unless it’s physical.
“I don’t cheat, I’m just an online guy,” says the man wiring $700 from Southeast Asia for stripping on Skype. “I think it’s bad, but I just have fun here; it’s better than actually f*cking someone.” Another man told me, “I don’t cheat, I only have this to see if I still got it, LOL. No intentions to cheat.” Even though these men aren’t cheating (LOL), they admitted to feeling guilty anyway, but not because they “love” their wives, but “because it’s a secret thing.”
10. User xAnnaMarie might never get married.
Committing to one human might defy biological imperatives in a pretty damn long modern life span. But the fact that nearly 50 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men engage in extramarital affairs, according to The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, is still pretty disconcerting. SOS. I stand a monogamist scarred for life.