Adultery Meets the Digital Age

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Adultery certainly isn’t anything new. After all, isn’t it the stuff of all those soap operas and reality TV shows, not to mention everything on the entertainment/gossip shows? Adultery is everywhere and it almost appears to have achieved a certain level of desirability because of its association with all those beautiful, rich folks we just love to love.

Famous adulterers have always enjoyed the public’s prurient interest. Why? Because we love to sneak a peak inside the private lives of the “high and mighty.” Of course, you can name them. Politicians certainly head a very, very long list and the not-too-distant past has filled the media with their hijinks with ladies other than their wives.

Writers, actors, film stars, athletes and bakers all have had their names added to a growing list of philanderers. Do I have to remind you of Benjamin Franklin, Presidents

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Kennedy and Clinton, Charles Lindbergh (allegedly had 3 mistresses and fathered 7 kids with them), H. G. Wells, and the many studs and current
cougars of Hollywood? Love is in the air. Well, if not love, lots of action which could conceivably by a vast stretch of the imagination be called “love” for brief periods of time in the arms of another.

Most of the details and even the very fact that these individuals were engaged in extra-marital activities were quietly kept from us by devoted friends, household staff, admirers and the press. The press, in an age of film cameras, TV and tape recorders, were a vital part of keeping the secrets and some of them used this to their professional advantage.

What’s the sense of having a really sensational secret if you can’t squeeze something out of it? J. Edgar Hoover understood that. We don’t know if anyone actually did use their notes in that way, but the press certainly knew of people with many skeletons in their closets.

Enter the paps (paparazzo) and the chase was on for any shot, more so shots of amorous misadventures outside of the marriage contract. They’re called the “money shots” that can bring thousands for just one clear frame. But still the secrecy was kept and is still sequestered today by virtue of restraining orders, lawsuits and unwritten agreements to keep the clandestine just that.

All of this was before the golden age of the digital camera, the internet and the digital media it would spawn. Then, of course, there are those wonderful cell phones we all love to use to take photos. Instantly, photos can be uploaded to the internet and spread around the world. How wonderful.

Enterprising individuals, let’s call them entrepreneurs, saw markets never imagined and new products and services sprung up overnight. Whatever you

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wanted or needed could be found with a few quick strokes in a search engine. Some people’s needs or wishes also found portions of the internet where carefully crafted code kept their messages from prying eyes by using programs such as Tor or the Dark Web. Users of this code are free from search engine snooping and those deadly logs and ISP trails.

Websites and cell phone apps now make it possible for people to have pizza delivered to their desks, schedule hook-up for casual sex with strangers, buy theatre tickets or pay for their health insurance. It is wonderful, but there’s always more opportunity for the creative who plumb the depths of the human condition and its psyche. Isn’t that what brainstorming sessions are for?

Along came AshleyMadison, a website devoted to helping those poor unfortunate married folks to hook up with other poor married folks for a fee. Their catchphrase? “Life is short. Have an affair.” Now that’s a motivator, isn’t it? What more do you need than to think of your imminent mortality?

Determined to get their message of marital sexual freedom out there (yes, the O’Neills promoted it in a book in the 1970s), the owners of this worldwide enterprise tried to buy Super Bowl ads, get a major US airport or sports stadium named for their company, advertise on the Toronto transit system and buy sports jersey for players in Italy. Gumption, folks, pure moxy.


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it’s not prostitution and the website isn’t acting as a pimp. It’s a dating services for married people. But when women of the night approach men in cars, what is the question they ask the guys? Isn’t it something like, “Do you want a date?” Oh, pure coincidence. These are memberships that are bought and I suppose you could say it’s the 21st Century equivalent of Plato’s Retreat. No, they didn’t discuss philosophy there.

Plato’s was right out in the open in an upscale location. They made no pretense of anything. Pay the money, follow the rules and you were fine. Didn’t matter who you came in with, seemingly, or what you did with other members that night. Privacy was your own business.

But in a world where hacking has become the norm and millions are being paid for software to protect privacy, how could anyone promise absolute safety from being found out? Coders all over the world just love to take on the challenge of computer secrecy and they do it 24 hours a day.

An idea of just how wide a net this website has cast can be appreciated by all of us. Someone has come up with a worldwide user graphic that’s pretty revealing. The red dots indicate that more than 85% of the members are male. Africa may stand out as a singular mass decidedly not involved in the enterprise only because of a lack of internet services. Who knows. But a 60GB data dump can be pretty interesting.

Which States in the US have the most members on the website? Well, someone did a breakout on the data dump and the results are interesting.

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One of the names that came up in the data is surely familiar to lots of us. The member is Josh Duggar of TV fame, child molester and now adulterer who preached marital fidelity and family values not so long ago. Now he claims he has an addiction to porn. So, to his way of thinking, porn led him to adultery. Wonder what led him to the sexual abuse of young girls.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were hacked. The Social Security Administration and the White House were hacked. The FBI and the NSA were hacked and, poor folks, so was Sony Pictures. Security experts, looking at the software used by the dating website, found it to be rather rudimentary so one would wonder who got the idea it was failsafe?

A recent article on the internet was quite informative on how our privacy (secrecy, if you wish) is not protected. Seems that all telephone services (the hardwired type) were built with back doors to facilitate wire taps by police and

other investigative agencies. Cell companies, for their part, have been pressured to include a back door in their services and some code writers have been, according to the article’s writer, resisting, but can we truly rely on that? Android phones, as described in another article, include them. Apple and Google are requesting that President Obama not allow this technology in cells in the US.

A word to the wise: If you’re going to engage in ANY activity that may cause you anguish in the future, the internet and cell phones are not the place to go. Come to think of it, home servers are not a good idea even if they’re ones you secrete in bathroom closets in far away places and wiping them isn’t foolproof, either. Of course the best choice is to rein in those urges.

Face-to-face conversations may still be your best bet, but not always. Remember gangster John Gotti’s famous walks on the streets of the Village in New York City? Ah, the joys that technology, specialized shotgun mikes and telephoto lenses bring.

Oh, and if you’re going to stand up as some icon of morality and family values, you’d better stick to it and practice what you preach. You can only be “sorry” so many times. After that, it’s just mouthing meaningless words to get yourself off from yet some other undesirable consequence.

Written by

Dr. Farrell is a psychologist, WebMD consultant, SAG/AFTRA member, author, interested in film, writing & health. Website:

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