I Got Caught Using Ashley Madison

As soon as I walked in the house, I knew something was wrong.

The look on her face was a mix of fear, hurt, and rage. “Who is Jennifer?” She demanded.

My heart started to race, I could feel my face turn red, and my pulse was climbing past 100 beats per minute.

Of course I knew whom she was talking about.

Jennifer was a woman I was communicating with via email. Jennifer was a woman I met through a website called Ashley Madison.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, Ashley Madison is a website that gained recent publicity from a data breach exposing the personal information of its almost 40 million members.

If this still doesn’t ring a bell, it might help you to know that Ashley Madison has trademarked the tagline: “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” Their website bills themselves as ‘The most famous name in infidelity and married dating.”

Get the picture?

Ashley Madison is a website for individuals looking to cheat on their Spouse or significant other.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t on the website to cheat or have an affair.

You may be thinking: “Yeah sure he wasn’t there to cheat or have an affair” which would put you in 100% alignment with how my girlfriend reacted to my explanation.

I’ll share how I convinced her of the truth in just a little bit but first, I want to explain why I found myself on this controversial site.

The short answer is I was visiting ‘The most famous name in infidelity’ because I was curious about how and why this community was thriving.

When my peers talk about social media, I find it odd that most have never ventured beyond the safe havens of Facebook and LinkedIn and (sometimes) Pinterest or Instagram.

Similarly, it seems the so-called experts ignore or ridicule every ‘new’ social media platform.

I don’t understand why those with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to differentiate themselves for their clients or employers choose to sit back and wait for the wave to break.

I can’t be the only one that grasps the concept of disruption?

Consider the following statistics about the fastest growing social media platforms that the majority of my peers no little to nothing about. After each explanation, I also share (in italics) why I am using or following this platform.

  • There are currently 1.6 Billion Tinder users that swipe left or right in a modern version of ‘hot or not?’ Tinder’s simplicity taps into the most basic human instincts and its revenue strategy is the model of innovation. I am working on ways to leverage some of the underlying dynamics of Tinder interaction in my sales process work.
  • More than 100 million SnapChat users (dominated by the elusive and lucrative 18-24 year old demographic) send snaps and follow stories. It has only recently launched advertising as it positions itself as the premier brand ambassador. SnapChat informs the strategies I use to drive pre-sales engagement with my audience (and those of my clients.)
  • More than 400 million WhatsApp users communicate for FREE anywhere and everywhere across the globe. WhatsApp represents the case study for positioning with diverse age demographics on a global scale. They have promised never to sell advertising and have lots of investment money. I’m not letting WhatsApp out of my sight as they will be one of the key players responsible for disrupting if not outright killing inline advertising as we know it.
  • With a mere 4 million users, fledgling Yik Yak offers a bizarre form of anonymous, proximity-based social messaging. To be honest, I am still trying to understand why the hell anyone would spend time here but Yik Yak is deployed at 1600 colleges and universities and expanding fast. I imagine the possibilities for recruiting top talent ahead of my competitors.
  • Sina Weibo is the leading social media site in China… you know that country with the second largest economy (by GDP) and 513 million Internet users. I don’t speak Cantonese nor do I do business in Asia so can’t help you much here.

Of course, I’m not actually suggesting you learn Mandarin and sign up for Sina Weibo but consider the simple reality that whatever tool or platform or application we use today will most likely be obsolete in a few years and an anachronism within ten years.

Yet, somehow, the ‘old guard’ never seems to get the message until its too late.

So how about you?

Do you get tired of being behind the curve? Do you ever suspect you miss opportunities because reading about them in the New York Times (rather than experiencing them yourself) informs your opinions about ‘the next big thing?’

I am amazed and inspired by the degree of innovation taking place across these platforms on a weekly basis.

The future of user experience and monetization is happening in front of us right now! You can read about it next year or you can get curious and get in the game right now.

Back to my Ashley Madison story…

It turns out that the data breach revealed the 31 Million men registered on the site were ‘competing’ for a pool of less than 12,000 real women on the site. The rest, were fake profiles powered by computer ‘bots’ that interacted with the (paying) male customers.

As a recent article in Gizmodo exposed “The overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.”

My Mind = Blown!

Turns out my own experience with the site reached pretty much the same conclusion.

Fortunately for my relationship, I had compiled enough notes on my project to demonstrate my interactions and intentions were innocent and research oriented.

As for my emails with ‘Jennifer?’ Well, lets just say my girlfriend strongly encouraged me to find other social media sites to research.

I was happy to comply.

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