Friday, August 21, 2015

Ashley Madison is like the lottery: many play, few win

     In 1965 Mike Royko took a look at Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and came to a surprising conclusion.
     "I'm not sure that Hefner is a playboy," the great columnist wrote in the Chicago Daily News. "He seems to be as middle class as the people he criticizes in his giggle-giggle philosophy."
     Real playboys, Royko said, "have sensational affairs with famous actresses, singers and countesses." They gamble at casinos, sail yachts, drive race cars. "Rome on Monday. Paris on Wednesday, Saturday night in New York, and breakfast in Rio."
    Then there's Hefner who, if you puff away the PR smoke, is a sedentary Midwestern guy married to his job who wants nothing more than to hang around his own living room night after night, guzzling Pepsi and listening to the stereo.
     "Except for the fact that it is bigger and all paid for, he's put together an overgrown split-level, right out of a "better homes" magazine," Royko wrote. "Hefner's kingdom is the same kingdom the 5:15 suburban commuter is rushing home to. Item by item, it's middle-class, sub-development living."
     In other words, don't let the sexy image deceive you.
     Good advice when considering Ashley Madison—to bring those who are just joining us up to speed—the online dating service for married people that was hacked last month, with names, emails, credit card numbers and sexual fantasies of its 37 million members snagged by a group outraged by Ashley Madison's business model. Earlier this week, the hacked details were posted on the notorious Dark Web, the hard-to-access land of bulk narcotics and illegal drug deals. Technically minded souls have already re-posted the data where suspicious spouses can check if their honey had been trolling for a special pal.
     The media of course eats this up. The would-be-Lothario humiliated is the oldest trope in literature, the stuff of countless Elizabethan dramas. The Washington Post speculated that "millions of users held their breaths" after the data theft was revealed.
     Maybe. My guess is those members don't have much bad behavior to worry about coming to light. As we learn about Ashley Madison, the more we'll find that, rather than some online game of musical beds, its clientele consists of a tiny portion of swinging adulterers who actually hook up with each other, and then a vast population of duped sad sacks and desperate house fraus ponying up their credit cards in pursuit of some unattainable dream. An image as romantic as a city laundromat at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night.
   Give Ashley Madison credit for monetizing married ennui. The most incredible thing about that membership list is its size: 37 million. Quite a lot. That's about ... 16 percent of the adult population of the United States. Though it turns out Ashley Madison also has a big international membership (some of whom, located in repressive countries that frown on this kind of thing, now have their lives put in peril by this breach. It's all good fun until somebody gets hurt).
      The details of how Ashley Madison works are fairly jaw dropping. It's basically a text service. Women can send messages for free to men—who make up 70 percent of members— while the men must pay to read them and pay to reply. The web site—and this is astounding—generates fictional women who send bogus messages to men to gull them into participating.
     The closest thing to Ashley Madison, in my view, is the lottery, where most pay for a dream that comes true only for a very few. Though I might be showing my age. Ashley Madison could be seen as a slightly raunchier subbasement of online dating which, if you haven't been paying attention, has morphed into a billion dollar industry. is 20 years old; 20 percent of young adults have dated somebody they met online, and some significant number of people who get married —studies range from 5 to 30 percent—are wedding people they met online. The taint of desperation that used to hang over online dating is pretty much gone.
      Not so for Ashley Madison. The secrecy and attraction implicit in its logo—a pretty woman holding her finger to her red, red lips in a "shhhh" gesture—is belied by this hack. Though 80 percent of Americans think that infidelity is "always wrong," we shouldn't take too much pleasure in Ashley Madison's secrets spilling out, because next it could be us, our bank, our hospital, our email, our secrets. Let he who is without something to hide cast the first stone.


  1. The Ghost of Christmas PastAugust 21, 2015 at 6:16 AM

    I wouldn't pay for Ashley Madison. I've met a number of women for sex by placing free personal ads on craigslist. very easy. and remember even if you are right that 80% think infidelity is "always wrong" (and I suspect about half of them are liars), that leaves the 20% of us who think that sex with any adult person is always right no matter what!

  2. Where the heck are those cool Chicks and Dicks doors?

  3. Near the corner of Grand and Racine?

  4. As mentioned in the off topic section yesterday (stop in bloggers, for other current event topics)
    what's worse is when someone who claims to be a family values guy and real born again on TV, is caught doing this. Hope his brainwashed and enabling brood mare leaves him. Even the conservative group he represented dumped him, some time back.
    Never thought of Hefner that way but I think it may be partly accurate. He's an old fool now.

  5. Well, I guess it's not a surprise that the folk at The Spoke have a twisted impression of who qualifies as a "chick." The men named on the door are mostly just regular guys who happen to be named Dick. But the chicks are an assortment of hookers, madams, porn stars and criminals. I'll let the readers determine for themselves which of those categories Hillary fits into. ; ) Why, that's misogynistic! What's become of biker bars, anyhow? Anyway I would imagine a much more fun assortment of "chicks" could have been arrived at than that.

    If "80 percent of Americans think that infidelity is 'always wrong'" and the AM membership includes "16 percent of the adult population of the United States", then that still leaves 4% of folks for our new commenter "The Ghost" to smoke out the old-fashioned way. As for me, I'll be in the living room, guzzling Pepsi and listening to the stereo...

  6. I'd find no offense with anything you would say about Hillary, Jakash and I'm not a Republican.

    Enabling, liar, opportunist and money hungry are some words I could start off with.

  7. Not many comments of relevance, including mine.............


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