Local cheater-mcgeeter numbers

Black and white artistic photo of a lone laptop on a city scene backgorund

“Lonely Laptop” by Satish Indxfunk on Flickr

The respawned Patch paper has a data scientist or two looking through the hookup website Ashley Madison hacked info for IP addresses that are assigned to Delaware County and its surroundings.

  • Havertown: 1686 registered users
  • Haverford: 343 registered users
  • Ardmore: not listed

So let’s round it off and say 2 grand of our 40,000-sh residents had logged on to the site at least once. That’s 5% fodder for juicy Townie gossip.

Or is it? Deeper analyses of the Ashley Madison user data are taking over the web. Gizmodo pointed out that almost all the real (actual human) accounts on the site belong to those who identified themselves as men. 5 million accounts belonging to women are now thought of being fake. So the site was a big ol’ sausage fest spewing out (allegedly fraudulent) claims that their users had affairs within a few months of signing up and that there were plenty of women on the site.

The truth: Most of the real accounts had no activity on them. So don’t go looking for your neighbor’s name. Even if his name is on there, it doesn’t mean much. You’d have to dig down and see if he was active on the site and then figure out if he conversed with anyone. It’s not worth all the trouble, seeing that the data is unreliable.

Still need to sate that insatiable curiosity?

Go over to The Truth About Deception and sort through some of articles with infidelity statistics, or read this (a bit sexist & skewed toward women) Woman’s Day article about men and cheating. Also, sociologists will tell you that we find our romantic partners (including illicit lovers) from the pool of people we know (or the people they know). Almost all of our connections are contained within the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend circle (i.e. 3 degrees away from us).

So the myth of a “cheater’s website” is a convenient one to distract us from an uglier truth: if your spouse is cheating, they are cheating with someone you know.

It’s kind of a similar myth of the online sexual predator. The well-heeled scene of a bad guy luring children to his lair using chatrooms is overblown hype that takes us away from the more deviant and gutting reality: 80-95% of sexually abused minors are victims of someone they knew prior to the abuse. But it is easier to point fingers at faceless bad guys and not let our kids walk to the middle school than to suspect your brother, a mentor or a teacher. The reality is, though, the real bad guys are in your family or circle of friends. (This is one of the reasons sexual abuse is so underreported: no-one wants to send their family member or friend to jail…)

So don’t fall for the myth. If you suspect a fellow Townie is cheating, don’t rely on the Ashley Madison data.  Instead, research what marital infidelity really looks like and when it typically happens. Get more informed about it, then go from there. If you’re a woman and suspect your spouse is cheating, they probably are. (Women, barring any gruesome mental illness, have pretty good instincts about their partners. Unfortunately, they are also very good at denial.)

Maybe you need to search the Ashley Madison database for something solid to go on, but based on the latest analyses of the data, it is iffy proof at best. Better to wake up and smell the coffee and start working on what’s happening here in the physical world than get lost in the myth of the digital one.