Ashley Madison: Where’s our self-control?

By Sarah Stubbs 

@sarahxstubbs

The Internet has revolutionized the way we do almost everything from shopping to working to dating. And with all of these positive advances in our technological lives, there is no way to avoid the inevitable negatives.

If you’ve been watching the news or have been on any social media at all this past week, you have probably heard about the Ashley Madison hack and the toll it has taken on its users whose personal information has become public and the toll it has taken on the company itself as it panics and now places a $377,000 award for anyone who knows the origins of the hack.

For those who do not know, Ashley Madison is a website where married people looking for an affair can go. Their slogan? “Life is short. Have an affair.”

With popular applications among college students and young adults such as Tinder and other hot-or-not types of apps, it is often argued that we are becoming more of a hook-ups only type of society, tearing down the walls of traditional relationships before the platforms of online browsing were even thought of.

As a hopeless romantic, these apps always have disgusted me. How petty it is that my generation has succumbed to the left or right swipe of a profile pic first impression?

Someone’s profile picture cannot capture the quality of person he or she is let alone any of or all of that person’s hobbies and interests and it doesn’t always capture the way that person truly looks, either. Come on, even Kim Kardashian has admitted to using the Perfect365 app to retouch her selfies.

Upon hearing about this Ashley Madison hack and scandal, I was shocked. Why does a site where married folks can “safely” cheat on their spouses even exist?

Clearly, my generation is not the only petty age group. This is where I began to wonder. Is our society a worse, less-loyal one because of the Internet and platforms like these? Or have we always been this way, and is the Internet just serving as an easy platform for us to practice this reality?

After some research and reflection, I’m pretty confident in the latter. Tinder, an app that I always tell my friends makes me want to throw up, is widely regarded as an app that is used by people simply looking for a hook-up. This is a hasty generalization, though, as this is not the case with all Tinder users.

A few of my friends have used Tinder to meet someone new and ended up going on a couple dates with those people – which is great. And if you’re in that large percent that uses Tinder for hook-ups, to each his own. The harsh reality of it all is that the one-night stand has been around a lot longer than the World Wide Web.

This hook-up culture I initially and unfairly labeled my generation with has been around forever. Read any of the early world literature, we’ve been hooking up for a while now.

In no way am I an advocate of this culture. Quite frankly, I think it’s one of the main reasons why our divorce rates are so high alongside our levels of stress, depression, and anxiety, but since the modern world is living this way – and not just virtually so – there are several factors to keep in mind if you decide to wade in these waters.

Know that if you are seeking a real relationship, these apps might not be the best place to look. Once again, you can’t know someone’s intentions by their profile picture alone. Sites strictly aimed at people looking for long-term relationships like match.com or eharmony.com might be better options for you.

Also, just be aware of the dangers. Hacks like what has happened at Ashley Madison are happening more often than ever and there is no sure-fire way to know that our personal information is safe – let alone our identities. Plus, it’s like something our mothers have always said, “If you’re doing something you don’t anyone to know about, you probably shouldn’t be doing it anyway.”

Sorry, Josh Duggar.

The rise of dating apps isn’t necessarily bad. Is it productive to our society?  I’m not sure. For those of you who safely get what they are looking for through these apps (as long as you aren’t otherwise committed to someone else), I’m happy for you.

Humankind is deeply flawed and always has been – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some level of self-control. Before hopping on any site that boasts romantic or lustful premises, think about the current people in your life who love and care about you. If your information leaked, would your actions have damaged a valuable relationship?

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