Does it really matter what you call it?

The title of this piece from the Wall Street Journal (read them now before Murdoch screws them up) asks the question "Is this man cheating on his wife?" to which I can only answer, depends on how you define cheating.

Personally, I define cheating as "something for which Amy would consider ending our relationship," and by that definition, I would say that marrying someone in Second Life, even if you never plan to meet in real life, is cheating. Seriously, the only way this isn't cheating is if you narrow the definition of cheating to sexual contact with a person outside the relationship.

The only reason I can figure why there's even a question is because of that narrow definition--the husband, in this case, seems to think he's doing nothing wrong because he's carrying on this relationship online, i.e. his penis is never going to actually touch his virtual wife, although they do have virtual sex online. It's a degree removed from the Bill Clinton/Gingrich calculation that sucking ain't fucking, and ergo, ain't cheating.

But my opening question remains--why does it matter if we call it cheating or not? The relationship is obviously in shambles.

But since February, he's been spending six hours a night and often 14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular, motorcycle-riding cyber-self. The character looks like a younger, physically enhanced version of him: a biker with a long black ponytail, strong jaw and thick handlebar mustache.
Throw in time he spends as a call center operator making $14 an hour, and that leaves precious little time for his real-life wife to whom he's been married for only seven months.

Whether he's cheating or not, one thing is clear--he doesn't care that it bothers his wife, and that means their relationship, if not dead already, will be before long.

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