I was born here. I have spent the majority of my life here. I live in a county with roughly 164,000 people. It's not Leiper's Fork Tennessee with and estimated 650 people, but it is a good sampling of small town USA. Florida is funky because we are a very large state. My county is composed of three city/townships that span 680 square miles of land. We have three high schools, three hospitals, one court house, and tons of small businesses and parks. It's not Mayberry, but it's and an average small town.
Last month I wrote about the Ashley Madison hack. I had no idea that the site existed, and I was a bit stunned to learn about online "married" dating. I don't live under a rock in this small town -- I know people cheat. What I didn't realize was how many people in my small town cheat. I didn't realize how many people had given up on monogamy and chosen to stray, while posting happy family photos on Facebook.
It's not what you know, but who you know. A friend, of a friend, of a friend, that I know handed me a hard drive with the first Ashley Madison data dump. I spent Friday night pouring over 2,600 excel files with millions of names. My source was kind enough to provide delimited data from two of the three cities in my small county. I sat face to screen with the harsh reality of "married" dating.
Names of small business owners, community leaders, doctors, youth sports coaches, and friends. It was a very different feeling from finding out that Josh Duggar and Sam Radar, two Christian evangelists, were on the list. I don't personally know those cheaters.
I am not writing this article to be the town crier. I have no interest in sharing the files or divulging names. However, based on a small sampling of the data, if I went to Walmart and 160 people were in the store, two of them would be Ashley Madison clients. Soon enough everyone will be able to see the full files and do their own search. Companies are already setting up websites to do email searches -- in a matter of days you will be able to do a name check. I am writing this because it is the sad reality that we now live in. My opinion on "married" dating, whether on Ashley Madison or in a local bar, is sad, deceptive, fraudulent, underhanded, and sleazy.
What hit me like a ton of bricks was seeing people who had recently gotten engaged, newlywed couples, and 20-year married veterans, were listed side by side in endless rows of excel data. Did this hack expose the death of monogamy? Should we stick a fork in it? Perhaps everyone who gets married from now on should be required to write their own vows.
New Marriage Vows should look something like this:
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded(husband/wife), to have and to hold, when I'm not holding someone else, from this day forward, or until you catch me cheating, for better, for worse, probably not for worse, for richer, for poorer, definitely not for poorer, in sickness and in health, not if your sickness is a strain on me, until death do us part, are you up to date on your life insurance?
I myself have been married for 12 years. My marriage is not perfect. We fight, we fail each other, but we try. We don't "married" date. I am not here to throw stones from the porch of my glass house. I am here to say that life as we know it will change from this event. This hack will go down in the electronic history books.
This hack will change the way people live their "online" lives. There is no such thing as privacy anymore. If you though what you did in the deep dark crevices of the internet was safe, you are mistaken. This hack will cause a "cyber" fallout with global ramifications. It has officially been announced that divorce attorneys will be experiencing "Christmas in September," as millions of petitions for divorce will likely be filed.
I am concerned that is will mark the end of the institution of marriage as we know it. And to think that right wing politicians and religious evangelists wanted to blame gay marriage for the destruction of traditional American values. Traditional American values in small town USA did that all on its own.