My mom still occasionally recounts a story about being in the basement in our family home and hearing a ruckus on the 2nd floor. It was my older sisters who had started a screaming match. My mom ran up the stairs toward the bedrooms. As she passed by the kitchen she suddenly stopped and backed up. She needed some m&m’s before she could emotionally deal with whatever was happening on the floor above her. She jokes that she is a chocolate addict. Who’s to say she isn’t.
We all use distractions as a coping mechanism. When we are stressed at work we mindlessly eat some chips. When we get home to a house full of needy family members we tune out with the tv. Our boss criticizes our work and we have an extra drink at dinner. Cigarettes, food, tv, internet, exercise, shopping, drinking – and porn – are all forms of distraction. Some of these distractions are obviously more harmful to our health and/or relationships than others.
Lets take Ashley Madison for instance. I remember the first time I saw a billboard for this website. It said “Life’s short – have an affair”. I thought it was an advertisement for an upcoming movie or tv show. More and more of these ads started to pop up around town and one day curiosity got the best of me. I went to the website and learned it’s purpose. It scared me. I knew my husband was a sex addict and I thought ‘oh great – it just keeps getting easier for him’. The truth is, if someone is an addict – or if they are just a jerk looking to cheat – no one needs Ashley Madison. They will find a way. History has alway had an Ashley Madison – Los Angeles had Heidi Fleiss, Chicago had Iceburg Slim, “Gone with the Wind” had Belle Watling. Of course the internet has made it easier to procure a lover. It’s also made it cheaper and more legal. In the past, men went to prostitutes to fill their sexual needs. Now people of both genders go to Ashley Madison – maybe for sex – but more often to temporarily cure their loneliness. I’m not sure what percentage of people actually have physical affairs as a result of that site. Probably less than you would suspect. The thrill of the online profile and an occasional email is probably enough to bring people back to the present and out of their bubble of obsession. But this porn has destroyed plenty of marriages. Even if the person who paid for the website never had an affair, the trust was destroyed when the spouse found out and a marriage and family fell apart. It’s really sad.
Here is a bit of advice/warning for anyone looking to join this site. Ashley Madison is evil. Not because of the ‘service’ it provides – but because of the greed it displays. Ashley Madison claims to put charges through to your credit card under a benign name. That benign name is ADL media. Ummm, not that hard to figure out if you just google that term (adult dating life). If/when you realize it’s mostly fake ads and sex workers and you wise up and decide to cancel the account they charge you to do so. Here is the kicker – the cancellation charge is listed under ASHLEY MADISON on your credit card statement. It may show up as ‘AM media’ or some such thing – but regardless of the wording, what they do is make it completely obvious what the payment is for and as a result many relationships are destroyed. The irony is that it’s when someone decides to do the right thing and remove their profile that their behavior is usually discovered by their spouse. Damn. That’s harsh. Of course you can get around this – use a prepaid c/c or whatever. Where there is a will there is a way.
I may have digressed in this post. So back to the topic. Ashley Madison, like any other version of porn, is a distraction from our daily stress. If you’re drawn to these sites they become addictive. It’s a thrill to get a secret email from an admirer. Doesn’t make you bad to have that feeling – it’s human. But it would make you a better human if you could try to find a different method of obtaining your thrill and validation. There are a lot of distractions to chose from in the world – would be nice if you could choose one that won’t destroy the worlds of those you love.