Since the Ashley Madison hack, I’ve received quite a few blackmail attempts, usually from Russians. They generally want $100-$500, always in bitcoin – in exchange for not publishing my name in a database of cheating SOBs like me. The e-mails feature standard language intended to activate my shame and fear.
Here’s the thing, though. Blackmail doesn’t work on me.
I’d certainly prefer that my name not come up in Ashley Madison searches – or, I suppose, more precisely, the opposite – that Ashley Madison searches not come up in searches for my name. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it did. I have no shame, no fear. My wife knows everything they could publish and more.
Of course, I’d prefer my extended family not learn that particular detail – that for two periods of time I had an active AM membership, that I had interactions with women, interactions that might conceivably be published by someone who actually had all the details.
But… no one I know well doesn’t know the generalities of the time in which I was a member of Ashley Madison, and I don’t give a fuck about people I don’t know well, so it’s just no big deal.
I suppose the one exception is in the world of work.
In the world of work, there are plenty of people who know, and a few who don’t. But there too, in the work I do, in the relationship I have to the work I do, it just wouldn’t matter. Mildly inconvenient and annoying? Yes. Interesting? Yes. Problematic? Not so much.
How much would I pay to make this all go away? I don’t know. A dollar? Two? But if I did pay, then wouldn’t I be setting myself up just to pay over and over? I think that’s how blackmail works – it’s kind of a permanent relationship between grifter and griftee, a relationship that ends only upon death, or the cessation of the ability to harm the griftee.
So if one is being blackmailed, I’m pretty sure, the thing to do is to bite the bullet and let your blackmailer do her or his worst.
Next up: the history of Ashley Madison blackmail and blackmailers