On ASHLEY MADISON

Hello Everybody!

Today I'm going to write a blogpost on Ashley Madison Singapore from an economic, rational-thinking perspective. That being said you'd find this post devoid of any religious/ethical arguments, which is intentional, because I don't like debating ethics/religious beliefs online. I'm writing this post for two reasons:
  • One, I'm tired of some saying that the government should not ban this controversial website because this is a step backwards in freedom of choice;
  • Two, I'm disgusted of some arguing along the lines of "what's the point of banning it? you might as well ban clubs or pubs".
And while I'm on this issue, let me stress that I am not against Ashley Madison the company. In fact I think the founders of Ashley's are in fact, uber-smart! If I ever have a chance to work for them for a while, I would. Who else can come up with the tagline: "Life is short, have an affair"? I think it's incredibly catchy and awesome.

And 20 million users worldwide! This is no mean feat, bro! This implies some top marketing brains are inside the company! I'm a marketer myself; Of course I would want to learn from the experts. So no I'm not against the company at all!

But I'm against Ashley Madison in Singapore. NOT because Singaporeans are stupid, but precisely because Singaporeans are smart. Let me explain myself:

INTRODUCTION.

Ashley Madison is a dating website with a twist-- instead of matchmaking singles, they matchmake married people. The idea is simple: if you as a married man cheat with a married woman, the chances of either party telling on each other is lower, because both have equally much to lose.

Why did the young damsel Wendy tell on Jack Neo to his whole family, about their extramarital affair? It's a no brainer-- he has more to lose than she. He has his career, reputation, family and kids to lose, while in contrast, she only has her reputation to lose.

So this Ashley Madison is a perfect site--yes, you got me right! A perfect website to reduce asymmetric information, to pair people with relatively equal amounts to lose together in their extramarital affairs. So that people can commit extramarital affairs safely, with less risk of one party telling on the other party. Economically speaking it is an efficient model, and 20million people worldwide agree with it.

And anyway, some married men often wonder what it is like to fuck a married woman, right? And vice versa. Which is a fetish I think, and fetishes should be forgiven because they have deep psychological roots. (Just ask Freud).

KEY ASSUMPTIONS

Let's now move on to why people hate adultery so much. Is adultery necessarily bad? Think about it people. Extramarital affairs only hurts the family damn bad when:

1. The married man or woman got found out by their better half;
2. The married man or woman did not get caught. BUT he/she felt guilty one day and consequently confessed to the partner to seek his/her forgiveness, to make himself feel better. This means that you can feel guilt AND not confess, get away with it, especially so if the extramarital affair is not long-term in nature.


KEY ISSUES

Not surprisingly, since Singapore is still relatively conservative, there has been strong social protest over the past few days.
  • Opponents of the official launch of Ashley in Singapore posit that it's going to hurt the social fabric of Singapore's society. The traditional concept of marriage and family, that is, the union of one man and one woman, is still held by tons of religious organisations and schools here. Allowing a website as such to operate legitimately is akin to, according to opponents, putting tons of delicious chocolates in front of a girl who is trying to lose weight for health reasons. 
"One more choc won't hurt babbeeee, you only live once!" The choc screams.
  • Proponents and people who don't give a shit about the official launch propose that it's freedom of choice at stake here. 
If chocolate makes you fat, does it mean that you ban chocolates? Or ban chocolates at the Mama store below your block since it's easier to buy from these stores? Or ban online sales of chocolates? Doesn't make sense here right?

I mean, according to the economics of agglomeration, people can enter a shop with the intention of buying a dress but end up buying the whole set of bags, heels, accessories, and...the dress. Just because the store advertises a storewide 20% discount.

So likewise, according to the proponents, people can toy with the idea of committing adultery, and actually do it because they want to, not because Ashley makes them do it. Just like how the discount induces you to spend more than what you would like to. But does the discount make you buy everything? No, you as a rational being made yourself do it. Similar to the discount, Ashley merely acts like a catalyst in making the act of committing adultery more convenient.

After all, if you're going to cheat, you might as well cheat all the way right? So why ban-- If you are going to cheat, there are other outlets to cheat, say at the office, in clubs, in bars, etc.

MY STAND
It's not true that if the Singaporean government chooses to ban this website, the government is misguided, evil and just treat Singaporeans as morons.

Or that a ban necessarily dictates that the government is treating Singaporeans as sexually-deprived citizens who cannot control their sex drives.

On the contrary, it is wise if the government bans the website. Why? Because as mentioned in the KEY ASSUMPTIONS section, if you already want to cheat, you will find ways to cheat. How you minimise the hurt from cheating however, depends on whether 1. you get found out, 2. you feel guilt AND HENCE confess.

So a ban would weed out citizens who are merely toying with the idea of cheating. After all the website acts as a catalyst because it makes cheating easier. But if the ISP bans the site, then people who wants to use the site find that they cannot access the site, and will give up the thought of cheating.

These groups of people are precisely the people who are bored with their marriage, not severely unhappy.

But a ISP ban would not weed out citizens who are serious about cheating. If they are serious about cheating on a partner, that nothing can stop them. The desire to cheat is not neccesarily "their fault" too!

For instance, I used to work really closely with this business partner who is a millionaire, and has a happy family. Then one day I discovered he is overtly cheating on his wife and kids, and the whole company knows but everyone just kept quiet. If one day the wife wants to use Ashley Madisons to get back at him, or to experience companionship of a guy who is facing the same situation, I won't judge her.

I mean there are tons of reasons why people might turn to Ashley Madisons, not only because they are bored/curious!

Can you access a website once they are banned by your ISP? Of course you can! How else do you think people manage to watch porn from places like xhamster.com or megaporn.com? Just use IP re-routing or masking lah!

If you can bother to find out how to IP mask or reroute,  then honestly you are seriously dissatisfied with your marriage and perhaps Ashley Madisons would be a good place to explore a good solution to make yourself happier.

Plus, if you succeed in IP masking, it means that you are of a certain level of intelligence. Therefore it acts like a mechanism to differentiate smart cheaters from dumb cheaters. This implies one other thing too-- that you most likely can minimise your partner's hurt if they ever discover that you are cheating one day.

If you want to stay low in your cheating, or keep it secret, basically overcoming the initial loopholes is one indicator that you can.

As a result, you will be less prone to 1. being found out; 2. feeling guilty AND hence confessing to your partner. Consequently, there is a higher chance of you getting away with cheating and not hurting your partner. 

Therefore, my stand is that ultimately, the government as a rational institution should ban the website wholeheartedly, no questions asked. 


And YOU--the cheater, should be unabashed about exploiting the loopholes if you really want to cheat efficiently. If you can't be bothered about exploiting the loopholes, then you are not really that unhappy with your marriage afterall, ya know?

Therefore a ban equates RESPECT for people who cheat because it weeds out effectively unthinking people who do not know the consequences of what they are doing.

We are not advocating that the government force the company to SHUT DOWN here. That's simply anti-innovation. We are advocating that ISP block this website, just like how they block certain porn sites.

Because people who really really want to cheat will cheat anyhow OKAY?

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