It was a crappily-ever-after ending to the hacking scandal for users of ‘cheat on your spouse, because life is short’ website Ashley Madison as details of their adulterous curiosities were leaked for the world to see this week. Anonymous hackers known as the Impact group released the data for more than 33 million users under the moralistic premise of targeting companies profiting from the “pain of others, secrets and lies,” and the individuals who utilise the service.
One such couple the hackers were likely delighted in exposing are Christian vloggers Sam Rader and his wife Nia: the epitome of all things sacred.
I mean, how juicy can you get? An uber-Christian couple who shot to fame with millions of hits to a family video called “Good looking parents sing Disney’s Frozen” have their father figure, self-confessed child of God, Sam, outed as a potential adulterer. It practically screams: “Crucify him!”
So should we?
When those who sit on their high horse - bopping to corny pop music being the proudest perfect pearly white, squeaky clean, all-American Christian family - fall, there’s an overwhelming sense of joy that these precious little snowflakes of virtue have melted in the pressure of our tempting world and all its attendant vices. While the phrase “Practice what you preach” seems appropriate in this case, that’s not actually where the buck stops.
For Christ-fearing/God-loving individuals, the stones cast by the hack and subsequent myriad of articles exposing users may not break their spirits but it might crush their souls. Whether you believe in a higher being or not, it’s hard to sit back and rub your hands with glee as people are so publicly degraded. But as much as cheating is undeniably a breach of trust, I find it hard to rejoice in schadenfreude as people - as lustful as they may be - are punished for being human.
Within hours of the big reveal, Sam Rader released a video called “Forgiven” addressing the cheating rumours, declaring he had an Ashley Madison account but had never used it. “I have sought forgiveness from God, and he has forgiven me, so I have been completely cleansed of this sin,” he said. Nia was at his side.
Never one to shy away from sharing their entire lives by video-link, the couple then continued to attend public events - and those ever eager to hurl stones were waiting. Comments from a blogging conference over the weekend expressed disgust at their lack of morality and perceived abundance of ego. When Rader eventually reacted aggressively - threatening to punch his critics - he was escorted out. How the mighty hath fallen.
In the last twenty four hours there have been two reported suicides of people associated as customers of Ashley Madison. Meanwhile enterprising cyber criminals are seeking a profit from extorting users threatening to expose their details to wider forums.
As individual reputations and lives are plunged into despair, the power of vigilante justice rises. In dancing on the metaphorical graves of high profile hacking victims, we might just be opening the gates to a hellish new era of internet witch hunts.
These Christian vloggers may be less than divine, but, after all, who are we to judge? Does it make our faults and sins any less?
In the beginning, after God created the heavens and the earth, he said, “Let there be light” - and there was light. In the end, after the Ashley Madison hack revealed the users and their details, they said, “Let there be truth” and there was truth - but at what dark cost?
The best, worst, and most unusual dating sites
The best, worst, and most unusual dating sites
1/18 Clown Dating
"It's no fun looking for love when you're a clown, behind all the make-up and the red nose is a lonely heart. Clowns are unique entertainers loved by some yet feared and hated by others. Luckily Clown Dating is here to help."
2/18 Dead Meet
"A dating networking site for death industry professionals"
"Tinder is the fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you. Swipe right to like or left to pass. If someone likes you back, it’s a match!"
4/18 Plenty of Fish
The largest dating site has over 90 million users
5/18 Ashley Madison
Ashley Madison "offers services to married folks looking for something on the side". It already has over a million members, as chief executive Noel Biderman said that British adults were most likely to have an affair than in other comparable countries
6/18 Sea Captain Date
Sea Captain Date website claims to be the only place for Sea Captains to connect with men and women who share a love of the ocean
Those on a more serious quest for love tend to choose the UK’s largest dating site for professionals such as E-Harmony, which has a huge list of compatibility criteria on which it pairs its users
8/18 Feet Dating
The cybersphere also boasts a plethora of dating sites for those who want to tailor their sexual fetishes like Feet Dating ("to please everyone who has a foot fetish")
9/18 Guardian Soulmates
"Soulmates community features thousands of smart, modern, independent people who are worth getting to know"
10/18 Singles with Food Allergies
The founder claims that dating can be a nightmare for those who suffer severe reactions, since popular venue choices so often include food and drink
11/18 Herpes Dating Service
"Living with HSV is something that initially may take some psychological adjustment for some patients. It does not mean the end of your sex life or that you will need to remain unmarried for the rest of your life."
Probably one of the most popular choices for tech-dating newbies
13/18 Miss Travel
Miss Travel website asks users to select from two options "attractive" and "generous", and pairs wealthy globe-trotters with hot companions
14/18 Pensioner Dating
Pensioner Dating offers a forum for "older people who want to meet new friends and companions"
Singleparents.ie is "Ireland’s number one dating site for single moms and dads"
16/18 S&M Dating
S&M Dating describes itself as a site for "beginners to the S&M and BDSM devotee"
17/18 Sugar Daddie
On the site, it says: "Sugardaddie.com is a high quality dating site for successful men who have financial security and confidence and attractive single women."
18/18 Uniform Dating
With more than 135,000 active users, Uniform Dating says each of their users receives an average of 22 winks and flirts each month