You tried to hide your extramarital affair … by putting it on the web?
Thousands of virtual rolling pins descend
Any tracks to cover?
Once those high-waisted, big-haired and dangly earringed days of the 1980s faded into the distance, the fad for blind dating was replaced by face-to-face speed dating. The purpose of speed dating is to give strangers the opportunity to evaluate each other in the reassuring knowledge that they will each take away their halitosis and lack of personal hygiene after three minutes.
Then the internet probed its way into our personal spaces and made blind dating fashionable again. Indeed, online matchmaking is a highly profitable business, apparently unfazed by front-page headlines and repeated viewings of Hitchcock’s Frenzy. I say, that's not my club tie, is it?
Over the last couple of years, I have been inundated with press releases from dating websites that specialise in married people looking to have affairs. At least, I think they were press releases. It’s quite possible that they only looked like press releases but were actually subtly formatted spam targeted at middle-aged IT journalists.
It’s just as well that I never took up those PR offers to use journalist discount codes to “take a look around” otherwise my email would have ended up in some hacker’s exposure list. That would take some explaining at home, I can tell you.
It’s bad enough with those misdirected text messages that one receives from time to time. When I’m out and about, they tend to be from unknown numbers and saying something like “C U down the pub Phil” or “Running late Steve, sorry” and so I ignore them. But if my phone is resting on my desk at home, it will always sing out with something that looks highly suspicious, if not downright incriminating.
This happened last week. I was sending a text message just as my wife announced she would be nipping out for a couple of hours. I sent my message, put my phone down and went to boil the kettle as she made ready to leave. On her way out, she popped her head around the kitchen door and informed me that my mobile had just received a new text.
I wandered back to my desk, mug in hand, to find my smartphone screen still illuminated and bearing a message from someone in my contacts book called KATE that read:
B WITH U IN 15MN LVVR
What should I do? Should I embarrass this KATE by replying to say she texted the wrong LVVR? Surely the best thing to do is just delete the message and forget about it.
But what if my wife has already read the message? Surely deleting it and failing to mention its existence will seem incriminating. On the other hand, if she didn’t see it, deliberately mentioning it to her and showing her the evidence might look like I’m double-bluffing and trying to cover up my tracks.
Hang on, I am far too boring for illicit adventure. Revenge porn? Revenge yawn, more like. I don’t have any tracks that require covering. And yet this misdirected text makes me feel like I am somehow acting suspiciously whatever I do. Argh.
Just imagine, therefore, how desperate you’d have to be to risk everything by initiating a genuine extra-marital affair via the least secure method known to mankind – the internet. Who in their right mind would trust the internet to keep a secret? In terms of security, a secret dating website is marginally less effective than adolescents exchanging love notes in a classroom via paper aeroplane.
Even better, it has been suggested that the active userbase of these sites is almost entirely masculine. Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of women signed up too, but the suggestion is that these are simply the men’s wives trying to catch them in the act.
I love this idea: hundreds and thousands of virtual women awaiting their unfaithful virtual husbands’ return after midnight, curlers in their virtual hair and wielding virtual rolling pins.
But then, what did those men expect from a website named “Ashley Madison”? For a start, it beggars belief that anyone thought that the claim that “Ashley” and “Madison” were women’s names. What kind of idiot would name their daughter like the Pokemon kid or after a square garden? Even in Canada?
Here in Blighty, we’d do it differently. DorisMabel.co.uk would attract literally several users, each paying a mere 0.0000012 Poopcoin (approx £320,000) to seduce chat bots by listing their interests as “reading a newspaper at the breakfast table”, “watching recordings of Match of the Day while Downton Abbey is on the other side” and “shouting ‘where’s me tea?’”
Married ladies, how could you resist? ®
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. He appreciates that the Ashley Madison hack has led to suicides and is officially No Longer Funny. The Register is no place for ambiguous wordplay about extra-marital websites. He therefore apologises to any love-cheat reading this who has been caught up in the whole Ashley Madison er ... affair.