I recently heard someone on the radio (alas, I don’t remember who or where it was, sorry) lamenting what they saw as the loss of “real” friendship and interaction due to the ubiquity of internet availability and social networking websites. It was clear that the speaker felt that online relationships were necessarily empty of any real depth or importance, and saw them as something entirely distinct from friendships formed and based in physical interactions.
I found this puzzling, as I tend to see the internet as an extension of “real life” rather than an escape from it. Separating my friends into “irl” and “online” lists would be an impossible task, as probably 95% of my communication, with people I have known in person for many years as well as those I’ve never met in person, happens on the internet, and some of the people I’ve met online (and some I’ve never seen in the flesh) have become some of my closest friends.
Do you see a distinction between your online and meat space friends? Is there something inherent in internet communication that necessarily cheapens human interaction?