As a new user, my profile is given prime place in the gallery of fresh young meat for the taking. A few are from the same persistent man, who tells me he “just wants to talk to me” because “it’s refreshing to see a genuine person on here and not some troller”.
Browsing through the website’s members’ pages, I see about 18,760 men in London aged 40-49 signed up to the site, compared with 4,730 women in the same age range. Some advertise themselves as religious; most are older men who know they are out of my preferred age range, but “just want to say hi anyway”.
It’s no wonder I’m being hounded as one of just 30 women under 30 years old with an active account – the ones messaging me know it too, trying to attract my attention with openers such as “pick me! Of course there are explicit messages but most are polite, friendly – verging on begging letters.
Some commentators have rejoiced in what they see as a deserved comeuppance for those who have been indulging in digital infidelity, while others argue the users are victims of a grave breach of privacy.
While it has been assumed that the scandal would sound the site’s death knell, it has also generated a vast amount of free publicity – and led even those of us who would never dream of cheating, less still giving away our personal details to a website to do so, wondering what it would be like to enter an online den of marital cheaters.
We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating. There’s the option to send digital gifts: a teddy bear, a rose or a sapphire necklace (at £16! I swap the last of my credits for 30 minutes of live chat.
Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber–terrorism will be held responsible.”For now, the site is still charging, apparently banking on the impulsivity that drives online gambling. A message pops up “hi can give you a strip show right now… ” I am directed to a live webcam site but with one eye on my expenses claim, I decide to call it a day and let the flood of red-lip emojis cascade over me.
Their stories are largely the same old cliché: stuck in a loveless marriage and seeking a thrill to ease the mid-life crisis.
Chat-up lines range from “one woman’s fresh meat is another’s stale smorgasboard [sic]” to “are you a tea or a coffee person?
I’m also dismayed to find that Naughty Boy69 is also unavailable. Two hours later my inbox is still ringing hollow – not a single response.
Testing if the experience is gender-specific, I coax a female colleague (see right) into signing up to a rival site. On a separate account, posing as a woman, I get chatting to a male user.
Rachael Pells Ashley Madison isn’t the only option for online cheaters.