herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Anton Savage: You wouldn't trust a shop with a list of your sex desires, so why trust a website?

Ashley Madison website
Ashley Madison website
Lucinda Creighton
The TG4 ad has been criticised by some as sexist
Kim Kardashian shows her support for Caitlyn Jenner in a new documentary

The Ashley Madison hacking scandal is one of the world's great examples of how judgement goes haywire when people go online.

In case you missed it, Ashley Madison is a website set up to help people have affairs.

Its tag-line sums it up nicely: 'life is short, have an affair.'

Although it does have a FAQ which asks - Does Ashley Madison encourage infidelity, to which the reply is 'no, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray. In fact if you are having difficulty with your relationship, you should seek counselling.' Eh wha'? Do we smell some legal ass-coverage in case someone sues for marriage-wrecking?

Needs

The disclaimer goes on to say 'however, if you still feel that you will seek a person other than your partner to fill your unmet needs, then we truly believe that our service is the best place to start.'

40,000 Irish people reportedly agreed that this was the best place to start their affairs and registered. The website has a lingo of all its own to describe the various connections services it provides for those who have opted to forego the advice about counselling and instead, jump a stranger.

'Winks' and 'private showcases' are part of a spectrum of services, some provided free, and some part of a premium package, but all of which require fairly significant surrendering of personal data.

You have to tell them your whereabouts, height, weight, body type and e-mail address.

In addition, you are encouraged to provide extensive 'profile information' including pictures and descriptions of your sexual predilections. And people do this. Millions of them. And they don't seem to be dissuaded by the website's policy that you cannot just close your account, you have to pay them €20 to delete your data.

If you attempted to sign up to a gym, and they said 'just to let you know, if you ever try to leave us, we'll hang on to all of your records until you pay us money to throw them out' you'd very quickly find somewhere else to work out.

But 40,000 Irish people were undeterred by this policy.

This is a business which exists solely to make money by helping people break the most solemn public promise they ever make, and will not let them leave its clutches unless they buy their freedom, yet tens of thousands of Irish people thought it was worth trusting with their personal information. Are they nuts?

Attack

This is not to suggest that Ashley Madison was complicit in its own hacking - it was attacked by cyber-criminals.

But it's a bit like hearing that a pimp got mugged; he may be the victim, but surely his core business was such that you should have been avoiding him in the first place?

If Ashley Madison was a high street shop providing the same service, and the shop-keeper suggested that you should give them your credit card, pictures, address and a list of desires which they would keep unless your bought them back, no-one in their right mind would agree. Yet because this site is in cyber-space not Clarendon Street, thousands are now facing a hard lesson about mis-placed trust.

Just like their spouses.

 

The sights and sounds of summer school season are unique ... and irrelevant

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The summer migration is happening. From all over the leafy suburbs, civil servants, politicians, lawyers and members of the professions in general (both retired and serving) are migrating towards their seasonal habitats - summer schools.

When it gets hot, and the parliament and courts empty, their inhabitants need somewhere where their calls can be heard, so they head en masse to rural hotels and educational establishments, to take part in these seasonal gatherings.

Their arrival in Glenties (or any of the lesser locations, safer for the less seasoned) creates a unique 'summer-season' ecosystem where dozens of journalists, starved of content in the hot months flutter in, hoping to access the pithy bon-mots and insights excreted by the herds.

For the rest of us, the resulting coverage of this activity is like David Attenborough programming - we get briefly transfixed. Particularly by seeing creatures we have not witnessed in some time: a McDowell in full antler, a Flannery resplendent in summer coat, a Creighton strutting and marking territory. 'Gosh', we say 'look at them, you forget how impressive they are. And how loud.'

We gaze for a moment, drawn in by these big beasts bellowing important things about which they have been thinking, and of which they are rather proud. But as with Attenborough shows, we fairly quickly realise that all this headbutting and squawking - while vitally important to the ecosystem is sustains - is a complete irrelevance to the rest of us.

In unison, we switch back to Fair City, safe in the knowledge that until the words 'summer school' disappear from the headlines and from the news, sweet shag all is happening and we have several weeks of quiet before the herd thunders back to say (and occasionally do) things about which we have to care.

 

A clever ad but is this really sexist?

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TG4 has gotten into a spot of bother for an ad it never broadcast but which leaked out on social media. The ad shows what at first glance looks to be a pregnant woman in a Cork jersey.

When you look closer you realise she is holding a football, not a stomach bump. The strapline reads 'The most important nine months of a woman's life' and promotes the Ladies' football championship. Clever ad. A lot of people believe it's also sexist and offensive.

But it's still clever.

Surely if we are to get all hot and bothered about sexism in the GAA we should complain about the use of 'ladies' instead of 'women's'?

 

Shade? Just put your pants on, Kim

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In the latest Kim Kardashian/descent of man/end of civilisation news, she has been accused of throwing shade by tweeting a picture of herself holding up a finger to the camera captioned with 'Imma let you finish but..'

The 'shade' is something to do with this being what her husband said when he interrupted Taylor Swift at an award ceremony.

People are thus theorising that she is wading into a fight with Nikki Minaj. I know. I don't care or understand either.

The reason I raise it is she was in her pants. And nobody batted an eyelid. We must be in the end of days. A woman shows millions of people their underpants and what everyone focuses on is the caption?

This is what the Kardashians have done to society. They have much to answer for.

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