News broke earlier this week about the hacking of “adultery” website Ashley Madison, where some “heroic” hackers obtained the personal information of presumably everyone who has an account on the site.
Or who had an account.
Because while the site’s sleaziness extends to being a hub for people who want to “discreetly” cheat on their spouses (their slogan is “Life is short, have an affair”), it’s grossness knows no bounds: they also charged a fee for people who had second thoughts and wanted to delete their accounts.
At the risk of mashing two succinct clichés into one: there’s apparently no honor among the wicked.
So spouses the world over had sweaty palms and rapid heartbeats Monday morning when news broke about the hack and what information the hackers possessed (“The stolen data may include names and credit card information, photos, and sexually explicit chat logs,” according to one news site); as of this writing, though, the hackers have not released any of the details they obtained.
The question then becomes: were you one of the sweaty-palmed, rapid-breathing spouses on Monday morning? Are you worried about what might result from this hack?
Or better yet: are you worried about getting caught for something that has nothing to do with Ashley Madison? Looking over your shoulder in fear of being exposed for your office indiscretions or for using your spiritual authority to score some one-on-one time with that divorcee you met at church? Is every email in your inbox a warning bell of potential terror that your expense reports are getting scrutinized a little too closely?
Here’s the thing: you can’t keep secrets forever. You can try, but it’ll eventually come out. Might not be today, might not be next week or next year, but someday someone will know the truth about you.
Are you worried about what they might find out?
Another story that hit the web late last week was about the tabloid site Gawker and an expose they ran on a married executive who tried to arrange a sexual escapade with a porn star. They had a falling out and their series of text messages turned up in the email inbox of a writer for Gawker. The story went viral (and prompted a discussion of journalistic ethics in the process), showcasing the power of the internet once more: your secret can become clickbait, simply because it exists.
Look, we know this isn’t the way life should be. We know that you should have a right to privacy, and that you shouldn’t expect your dirty laundry to get aired on a dirty website for the sake of advertising revenue.
But we also know that isn’t the way the world works.
Cheaters get caught.
Lies get exposed.
So if you’re living with a lie right now, you have two choices: either wait for the truth to come out in the form of hacked passwords or screenshots of your texts, or come clean.
We’re always going to be big advocates for truth, honesty, and openness. There’s no secret so damaging that it will sink you completely. You may have consequences for your choices, but you can’t outrun them. They’ll reach you eventually—the only thing you can control is whether they reach you on your terms or theirs.
Don’t wait for the hackers or tabloids to expose you. You may be one in 37 million, but you still matter.