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Lifestyle

November 15, 2012

Technological Arms Race Continually Escalates in Infidelity Wars

Bad loving ain't easy.

So many traps to fall into, so many mistakes to make, so many ways to flub up. Even the nation's spy chief couldn't get away with it, couldn't keep a secret extramarital affair secret forever. If David Petraeus couldn't do it, well, how could anyone else convince themselves they could pull it off?

But, you see, they do try. Every day. Their venues may sometimes be cliched — motel rooms or the back seats of parked cars — but their methods are often less prosaic. In the hunt for bad loving, some people will do almost anything.

Whole new identities are created. Elaborate banking labyrinths appear and disappear. Passwords morph, then morph again . . . then morph again. It all sounds so plausible, so utterly doable, at the time. Then, wham, some private eye with a video camera shows up and it's all over (or, in Petraeus's case, some guy with FBI e-mail peeping powers).

"Somebody's going to make a mistake," says Bill Mitchell, a private investigator and self-styled "infidelity expert."

This digital world that we live in has made it only tougher on the unfaithful — not that they deserve a break, or anything, right? Each panting e-mail, each naughty text, each sneaky- rendezvous call is neatly logged with a digital signature. "Even when they delete everything, it's still on the hard drive," says Sandy Ain, a well-known divorce lawyer in Washington. "If computers are discovered during litigation or by an enterprising suspicious spouse, the information is readily available."

Makes a person think twice about e-v-e-r-y single w-o-r-d he says — or types. "Unless you're a Russian cyber criminal, anything online is potentially public," says Paul Saffo, a technology futurist, or forecaster. "There are things in my life I would not write in e-mail but would say on the phone, but I wouldn't leave on voice mail. There are conversations I'd not have on the phone, and those I'd only have in a field with no one around for a half-mile."

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