Everybody Knows (Without Your Clothes)

I vividly remember the first time I lied.  I was 4 years old.  Very soon after, I deceived for the fist time.  Two days after my first deception, my mother suspected the first deceit and tested me on it.  She tested me in a deceitful way; asking the question in a way as not to raise suspicion.  Realizing what she was doing, I pretended to not know why she was asking, and successfully passed my fourth order of intensionality deceit exams.  Or did I?  Mom, did you just pretend to be fooled to increase my self-confidence — lie to me if you did!

It was then that I was struck by a realization.  When you hide things, you can NEVER know for sure if other people don’t know, or if they are just pretending not to know.  I realized that you have to assume everyone knows, but that it’s only relevant if they chose to acknowledge and act upon their knowledge.  To account for the first category, I invented a race of people in the sky, who observe all of your secret actions, but live very far away and don’t care to come down often.  And you have no idea what will really set them off — they could ignore murder and punish candy-bar stealing for all you know.  This was a temporary arrangement, until I had better language skills to invent things.  But the concept is truth as only a 4 year-old mind unsullied by conscience can apprehend it.

So [via Dare] we recently had someone post an ad for submissive Sex on Craigslist; collect about 100 responses from lonely guys, and then post ALL of their details on the web in full glory.  It has already destroyed one marriage, and is gonna cause a lot of pain.

At the same time, we have HP board members crying bloody murder because the company obtained their home phone records.  And William Loughborough is riffing on the notion that privacy is dead.

My opinions (substitute guy/girl below freely):

You can’t blame the griefer.  Perhaps this was just a techie nerd who wanted to understand the dynamics of the swingers magazine business.  Now, he would have done a lot better by just getting involved with the industry, but he decided to conduct an experiment.  As all good techies know, knowledge belongs to all humans, and there is no reason that only bad people should know what the response rates for such ads are.  Sure; the release of personally identifiable information was VERY malicious, but that just means the guy has some personal issues to work out.  Clearly people responding to this ad have their own personal issues to deal with, and you can’t blame THEM for returning the favor.

Privacy is an Illusion.  Your phone records were public up until three months ago anyway.  You have no assurances that prissy people with picturephones aren’t taking your picture every time you enter the strip club anyway.  As technology spreads, privacy is dead.  If you cannot imagine plausible ways that every secret of yours is in the hands of others, your imagination is deficient.  When the guys in the sky leave you alone, feel grateful.  When they (random as it may be) expose you, it sucks, but assume people knew anyway and move on.

It Could be Worse.  If this had not happened, chances are something much worse would be happening to these guys down the road.  “Between consenting adults” is simply a way of saying that both sides think they can get the upper hand.  And the side that has less to lose, and is less ruled by hormones, is going to win.  The “domination” guys are the easiest marks, because they come into the situation with the belief that they are in total control, or that they can control the situation through bluster and aggression.  And when she ruins his life, she won’t feel bad, because the victim is a perverted jerk (and an e-mail stranger).  Of course, not every victim can be successfully blackmailed, broke, enticed to beat up other customers (as adjunct to blackmail “Oh Ricky, I love you so much, this stalker guy won’t stop calling me; please beat him up!”).  But it’s a numbers game.  These guys think the same way — even if the scam/fraud rate in this game is more than 50%, they just need to try enough times to get a “good” one.  The problem is, as you can see, the girl gets a LOT more numbers than the guy.  She can go through the list for the easy marks and ignore anyone who seems even slightly uncontrollable. 

If someone is doing this stuff, he should ASSUME some things.  Assume that a coworker is running the phone screening service or e-mail for the girl (they rarely are computer savvy).  Assume that she’s emotionally unstable (high probability), so she could very likely get attached to him and start stalking him to work.  Assume that irrational and angry “boyfriends” could get involved.  If she’s rational enough to be greedy (thank God) assume that she’s going to attempt to blackmail him (and blackmail takes many forms).  It takes two to tango, so this is not to blame the girl (and the guy quits when he gets burned; the girl usually can’t/doesn’t).  And not every transaction is scammed, but these guys don’t want to hear about the risk rate anyway.  Both sides are going to get scammed, repeatedly, given enough time.

Now; to Dare’s point, I really doubt that Craigslist sees the “adult hobbyist” scene as a lucrative business priority.  They are probably relieved that this has happened, because they escape the “taint”.  And the experienced hobbyists (on both sides) prefer venues where “enforcers” have some sway.  Someone who’s going to expose herself to physical abuse for the possibility of scamming a person is going to scoff at a Craigslist banning/fining policy.  Both sides are operating outside the law, so both have an incentive to operate under the umbrella of extralegal “protection”.

And this is a story that’s been told a thousand times.  The Craigslist angle is just fresh lipstick on a really old story.  Imagination should be sufficient, but if not, the weight of history should do.  Putting it up again on a wiki isn’t going to do much for the people who didn’t want to hear in the first place.

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