So Christopher and I got into an interesting conversation last night after I told him about something I’d heard on the radio. At this point, you’re probably all aware of the controversial internet dating site called Ashley Madison. The tag line for the site is “When Monogamy becomes Monotony” and it’s basically a site where married and “involved” people who want to cheat on their spouses or fiances can go to meet either single or other married people who want to help them cheat.
I probably needn’t explain why this is controversial. Opposition to the site basically consists of this: Sites like these (as well as the controversial billboard put up by an east coast law firm specializing in divorce cases that pictured a half naked man and a woman in lingerie with a caption that read “Life is short. Get a divorce.”) are leading to the moral decay of society. They encourage engaging in behavior that most would agree go against the vows of marriage and create situations in which one partner is essentially deceiving the other. Not only do they encourage it, they make it very easy by helping men and women who are considering having an affair, find someone to do it with quickly, easily, and discreetly.
In defense to that accusation, the creator basically said that people are going to cheat no matter what and his site was a response to that behavior, not the cause of it. To which the interviewer on the radio (for those of you who listen to L.A. radio stations, it was Scott Valentine) said, “Well if people are going to do crack anyway, why not just open a crack house?”
So… both are interesting points of view and there are a few things to consider when really examining this topic:
1. Does the ability to do something without having to put much effort in, encourage people who might otherwise be swayed from doing it, to do it? I think so. The effort of having to drive to Blockbuster has, for sure, prompted me to just order a PPV movie at home. The amount of effort it takes to do something and the amount of risk involved in getting caught doing it, are definitely factors when deciding to go ahead and do something or not. This site minimizes those effort and risk factors and therefore, in my opinion, does encourage cheating. Now… I have to pose that opinion lightly. If you are in a monogamous relationship, and like being monogamous, are you even going to bother going to that site? Probably not. So the desire to cheat does have to be there before any influence from the site comes into play.
2. Does the general acceptance of a site like this have overlying repercussions on society? I think so. With divorce rates as high as they currently are, I don’t think that the majority of our society takes marriage very seriously. Many people go into marriage for the wrong reasons (either because of family or society pressures, or they’re pregnant, or because they just believe they’re in love and Hey, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get a divorce). I don’t personally think all the marriages and divorces and having one kid from this guy and then two kids from the next husband, etc. creates a very stable family unit and family units are very important in our culture for lots of reasons. So even if a site like Ashley Madison is a symptom of the evolution of our society’s perception of marriage and its importance, it still reinforces that perception right or wrong.
3. It’s a free country. Should people have a right to create any sort of business they want if there are people willing to pay for that service? Again, this is a tough one. On one hand, I have to say yes. Our site isn’t for everybody, but Christopher and I have the right to have it and there is certainly a base of people who enjoy reading what we post and are entertained and find it engaging. Our ads don’t make shit for money, so it’s not a business but it’s still what we want to do. With that said, there will always be men willing to pay prostitutes for sex. Yet, prostitution is illegal in most states (partially because it’s difficult to tax, partially because the religious folk don’t agree with it morally, and partially because without excessive regulation, it tends to breed other types of crime and exploitation).
So bottom line… while I feel sites like this have a right to exist, I think we, as people, should really pay attention to how our actions/creations/business endeavors factor in to where we, in general, want our society to go in the next five, ten, twenty years and then take some personal accountability for either pushing it in the right direction or the wrong one. We all have our own individual morals that guide us in that reflection, and those morals differ from other peoples’, but at the point where we actually begin to say that cheating on your significant other and deceiving the person you’ve chosen as your partner in this life is good for society, I think the justification for making a few bucks has overshadowed logic.