It’s incredibly frustrating and utterly disrespectful that nothing in life is truly “private” any more. Spam email is one of my biggest annoyances – for on any given day my inbox is littered with dozens of unsolicited emails that require my personal time to unsubscribe to. Doesn’t seem fair, but then again who ever said that life was.
Lately I’ve noticed countless emails for Medicare enrollment and motorized scooters (come on – I’m only 38 years old!); travel deals and concert tickets; and most recently dating sites for all races, genders, ages and fetishes. Frightening really.
But today I received spam mail with a subject line I recognized immediately from a column I wrote back in July of 2009.
AshleyMadison.com is a dating site geared towards those men and women who are already in committed relationships, but are looking for something more. Yes, you heard me correctly. The Toronto-based company is in fact promoting and profiting from adultery.
Don’t believe me? Just take a gander at their tag line: “Life is short, have an affair” – which was the subject line of the spam mail I mentioned above.
If that wasn’t bad enough, their radio campaign states, “When you have a private moment at work today, visit AshleyMadison.com. You’ll be happy you came.” (shaking my head)
In a letter on their website from president and CEO Noel Biderman, he states: “Ashley Madison has been connecting millions of people from all over the United States, Canada and the UK in an effort to increase the likelihood of a successful affair.”
Believe me folks I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
To no surprise, critics abound. Trish McDermott, a consultant who helped found Match.com and Engage.com said “AshleyMadison is making bad choices, broken promises and faithlessness look like something that’s trendy and hip and fun to talk about at a cocktail party.”
What does it say about civilized society when a need arises for a company whose sole purpose is to help men and women cheat on their spouses? While I’m all for the evolution and progression of man, this seems to diminish the very foundation relationships are supposed to be built upon – trust, loyalty, respect, commitment. Is that the message we want the youth of America to learn as they start looking for love?
Sadly, membership is soaring (as our their profits).
But Biderman defends his creation saying, “This is just a business to me. This is a market need, just like any other business that’s successful. There’s huge demand for it.”
I suppose he’s right. No business can successfully survive in today’s economic climate without demand from the public. But even as I sit here writing this post, it still seems surreal to me that a website has garnered such a following.
Perhaps I’m naïve to the fact that adultery is common in society. Perhaps I want to believe that people, who once professed their love for each other, are not so callous and cowardly as to demean the very existence of their relationship.
The late writer Leonard Michaels once said, “Adultery is not about sex or romance. Ultimately, it is about how little we mean to one another.”
While this might be “just a business” to AshleyMadison.com, their business ultimately will destroy the lives of everyday people and their families. And while I’m aware that society has control over their own choices, making adulterous behavior easily accessible almost makes it seem acceptable.
P.B. Fitzwater once said, “Character is the sum and total of a person’s choices.” Here’s hoping that someday soon, the choices we make hold each other in a higher regard.