That is the motto that I heard coming from Noel Biderman this morning as he was a guest on The Billy Madison morning radio show. Noel Biderman is the President of the Ashley Madison agency and the creator of their website.
Ashley Madison isn’t the first online technology/agency to provide opportunities for people to have affairs on those whom they are in relationship with, but it’s definitely one of the most well known. In fact, Ashley Madison has also released an iPhone application that can help people have an affair without leaving any online traces.
“One resource that most men look up to is the web and through AshleyMadison.com, their tracks will be covered without a trace. Unlike Craigslist’s plain-Jane listings, AshleyMadison lets cheaters customize profiles, chat anonymously and trade messages about adulterous preferences.”
In fact they state that over the past month alone (June):
“Over the past month alone, 679,000 men and women have used the service to contact a cheating partner. According to their profiles, 92% of males on the site are married or otherwise attached, as are 60% of female members.”
It was fascinating listening to Noel Biderman on air this morning as he stated that he was in a monogamous relationship with his wife, and that he in fact would be devastated if she had an affair on him. When pressed by some of the callers about him being “a walking contradiction”, Noel basically brushed it off by saying:
- we weren’t born to be monogamous according to the scientific research.
- he’s not responsible for the affairs that come about by his website, stating basically that it’s just a tool, and he can’t be blamed for what people do with it.
Ashley Madison is not a Technological Neutral Tool
This brings me back to the post I wrote on August 25th where I re-emphasize the notion that John Dyer puts forth regarding technology not being neutral. John used the example of the shovel as a technological tool and that it can be used for both good (planting, building, digging, etc.) and bad (as a weapon, burying the body of someone you killed, etc.)–in reality, the tool transforms the user by it’s very use…but will it be for good or for bad.
For Noel to say that Ashley Madison is just an online tool, and therefore, to deny any responsibility in the role of helping people have affairs…I think is unconscionable, naive, and a cowardly way to remove himself from any responsibility.
Ashley Madison’s website is not a technological neutral tool, but in fact is shaping people in a way (to have affairs) that destroys the lives of the people around them. I come from a Christian worldview, so my view on marriage may be different than many people…that I understand. But who can say that an affair is just a fun, harmless venture, that doesn’t usually leave a trail of wreckage behind it?
I have worked with lots of families, couples and especially students and young adults during my last 15 years in ministry and my last several years in the therapy field. And what affairs do to people usually requires them spending the rest of their lives picking up the pieces of their lives and they have to learn again how to trust and love those who have betrayed them, or whom they have betrayed.
I think ultimately I’m just saddened. Saddened that I believe highly in marriages and that the state of marriage is in enough shambles without others trying to bring it down even more. Saddened for the couples and families that I work with who have been devastated by affairs. Saddened that Noel chose to use his passion and education to do harm to marriages and relationships, rather than creating something that would build up and strengthen marriages.
What do you think?