This image welcomes users to AshleyMadison.com. Naughty naughty!
This just in: Cheating is totally healthy and not a detriment to your relationship, you guys!
And to what illustrious source do we owe this heady information? Why, AshleyMadison.com, a website devoted to clandestinely arranging affairs for its users. Convenient, no?
In a study curiously slated for presentation at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, a professor at the University of Winchester in England scoured the site to compile data on thousands of users. Lo and behold, guess what he discovered?
Women seeking extra-marital affairs still love their hapless hubbies and are cheating instead of divorcing. So it's basically a win-win!
As Time pointed out, the study is dubious at best. The professor in question is touted by AshleyMadison as a specialist in masculinity, sexuality and sports—yet he's listed on his university website as simply a professor of sports studies, with one relationship-focused book to his name . . . hardly the stuff sexuality or relationship experts are made of. And did we mention how totally convenient his findings are?
That's to say nothing of the fact that to glean this information, users were secretly spied on—echoing the questionable actions of OKCupid, which recently experimented on users without their knowledge.
The whole thing casts an ever-darker shadow on the nefarious ways of AshleyMadison, a site used by 25 million people who want to arrange some on-the-side action without their partners finding out. (Charming tagline: "Life is short. Have an affair.") Not only is the site fostering infidelity, but now it's trying to ethically condone the very act of cheating.
This leaves a resounding taste of ick in our mouths.
AshleyMadison is Just the Beginning
Sadly, AshleyMadison represents the apex (or is that nadir?) of online dating's dark and dirty side. Amid the clutter of sites devoted to fostering true love and/or harmless hooking up, the intrawebs are littered with portals for relationship cruelty, deception and superficiality.
Take Lulu, a site that lets women rate guys and share info with others. While some have called the site an empowering power shift for women—and it's often used for positive comments—it's hard not to see it it as a manifestation of dating's claw-digging side.
Or Beautifulpeople.com, on which users vote others in or out based exclusively on hotness, using cruel little rating buttons as their weapon of choice. A few years ago, 5,000 members were excised en masse for gaining weight.
Or MyFreeImplants.com, through which sleazy dudes pay for women's breast implants, then get hooked up with their newly buxom beneficiaries.
Is it shocking that such sites exist? No; the Internet has never been accused of shining ethics. But let's not forget that these sites have one goal: exploit the worst in people, make money. Any "study" a site like AshleyMadison conducts should be viewed as nothing more than a cheap tactic to drive up profits at any moral cost.
The American Sociological Association should be ashamed of itself for offering the veneer of validation to these findings. And for the record: Infidelity is selfish, cruel and hurtful . . . now matter what a sports professor hired by a cheating website tells you.