A website for cheats – the ultimate treat or plain cheap?
Writer – Meera Vijayann
In a world where people are trying to fix broken-hearts, make their marriages last and hopefully find eternal love, there comes a website that shows you a side of human nature you never quite expected.
Ashleymadison.com , an American dating site for people who are ‘Married but looking’, was founded in 2001 hoping to let those who are married or committed have ‘casual encounters’ without hassle. Today, ten years on, it continues to court controversy. But its controversial tagline – ‘Life is short, have an affair‘ isn’t just what people are talking about now, but the fact that the website claims to get more than 700,000 unique visitors a month and have a registered membership of 2.45 million users is making people ask the most serious question about their love lives – What if?
Infidelity is certainly not a new word. Sneaky phonecalls, secret text-messages, fliratious passes or one-night-stands – any couple who have been committed long enough will know that deep in their hearts, there’s always that slight doubt when it comes to trusting their partners a hundred percent sometimes. Was he really at a late night meeting Wednesday night? Was she honestly wearing her best dress to meet her girlfriends? Ashleymadison.com it seems, feeds on that doubt you have, and nurtures it just about enough.
Noel Biderman, the brainchild of Ashleymadison, has no qualms about facing the heat about his venture. He claims that ‘Monogamy is a failed experiment‘ (which is quite hard to believe because he’s married) and talks big about how the idea of creating a website exclusively for cheaters came about after figuring most internet dating sites have people pretending to be single. Of course, many people identity with this, but they also have other ways of letting out built-up frustration in their lives – internet porn, or possibly discreet obsessions like gambling or drinking, or even an odd affair. The reason people use the website, he says, is because it offers people no judgement. Interestingly, this paints a picture of what the world would be without any particular sense of morals and values. Would it necessarily be better if we were offered no judgement for our actions? And nothing was really ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
Perhaps, it wouldn’t, or perhaps, we are headed there anyway. Either way, most Americans seem to be worried. A majority believe that it is ethical to simply end a relationship if you are unhappy in it. The United States already has a divorce rate of 40 – 50 percent, among the highest in the world. Will a site like Ashleymadison only perpetuate disblief in marriage as an institution? It is this worry that led to the rejection of Ashleymadison’s Superbowl advertisement early this year. It’s rejection did not come as a surprise to Noel Biderman, but he makes a good point in his defense – ‘an advertisement isn’t going to persuade anyone to have an affair, it is a decision that they have come to already.’
If Ashleymadison is a decision 2.45 million people have taken by themselves, I suppose, there’s enough reason to worry.