Digital Indiscretions – Part Two: Confessions

Digital Indiscretions is a three part series on infidelity in the age of technology. The series is based on Dr. Ebony Utley’s interviews with U.S. women about their experiences with infidelity. Interviewees chose their own pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

In the past, infidelity was more difficult to prove—that is, until it met technology. Not only do we have dating sites today, we also have dating sites designed to facilitate extramarital affairs.  And we have hackers who breach dating sites designed to facilitate extramarital affairs.

On July 20, 2015, Ashley Madison was hacked. 37 million users’ private personal information was compromised, and it is still unclear how much of this data will be revealed to the public.

Evidence from a massive hack certainly makes it easier to receive a confession from a cheating partner, but hacking isn’t the only way women have creatively used technology to prove their suspicions of infidelity.

When Hope found evidence of her husband’s inappropriate behavior on Facebook, she told herself, “I have to print it out so if I ever change my mind or he makes up a really good lie I can go back and look at it and remember why this won’t work out.” When her husband continued to lie she showed the printed messages to his parents.

She recalled, “It wasn’t until probably my fourth installment of emails, pictures, and video that I sent his parents and they were over there crying, that he said “Okay, I did it. Just stop sending stuff to my parents.” Hope admitted that she did not want to send so much proof to his parents, but she desperately needed them to know the truth.

Hope’s decision to print her evidence was an opportunity to create physical proof of his digital indiscretions. Lassie also printed all of the sexual communications between her fiancé and the other women that she found in his email. She said, “I printed them out and I just left them—I wanted to really screw with him, so I left them on the floor with my engagement ring on top of them and then left the apartment and waited for him to come home.”

Whereas Hope and Lassie printed the virtual evidence so they would have physical proof, Pauline engaged in what she called “a whole different game of technology” when she found virtual evidence of her boyfriend’s emotional affair.

“I screen shot all the messages to myself and I had thought about posting them to Facebook. I thought, ‘No, I’m not going to be public like that, then I’d be one of those messy girls.’ At my age, that’s not okay.” So I kept them to myself… When I woke him up I just said everything that I had found, and I was like, “Before you say anything, don’t try to deny it because I’ve screen shot everything to my phone and I have their numbers.”

Pauline didn’t need physical evidence. She used technology for her record keeping. Not only did these women use technology to discover their partners’ infidelity but they used technology to procure confessions.

Some Ashley Madison users may confess before the hackers determine whether to make good on their threat to release all their information, but I’m sure others will wait until a partner confronts them with undeniable proof, whether it be printed or on a screen.