[what about:] how you can make friends on the internet with people you otherwise would not have met; how you can then consolidate and extend these friendships offline; how, even if you don't (because of distance, say), having electronic friends can be a rewarding experience in itself; how old (real-world) friends who live far apart can now be in touch with one another with much greater facility and regularity than formerly; how, the internet being (when all is said and done) part of the real world, friends can also cease to be friends because of what happens there; and how anyone whose friendships are wholly confined to the internet probably has problems aside from an addiction to their computer.Of course you do have to factor in that he was taking Roger Scruton to task for pointing out that online friendships differ to real-life ones in somewhat simplistic terms (finding fault with Scruton: fish, barrel). Even so Norm offers some wise distinctions and complications of the argument.
I'd certainly back up most, if not all, of these:
1) I've made friends with people all over the world whom I almost certainly would never have gotten chance to meet otherwise;
2) through blogmeets and just general encounters (especially with local bloggers) I've gotten to know some smashing people;
3) some of the people I know online I only know online - but through blogs, forums, emails and chats I can exchange thoughts and views on a whole range of life, the universe and everything topics;
4) the same works too for some of my more distant real-life friends -- without the internet I doubt I would have been able to sustain contact with Rita or Chrissie even though I do speak to each by phone (and yes, Chrissie, I know we keep talking about Skype!);
5) I've certainly made and subsequently lost friends through online contact - there is something raw in words on the page, written with an immediacy that may remove tone and gesture - but that isn't to say that I haven't screwed up real-life friendships too;
6) and I would (broadly) concur that to only have online friends may be indicative of bigger issues (with the proviso that for some, perhaps those unable to interact as easily with the physical/real-world through disability for example, an online life may be far more productive as a source of friendship. Arguably, that too is suggestive of bigger issues, though not necessarily 'problems' as Norm phrases this).
How do you feel about your online/real-life friendships and their similaries and differences? Is it different if you're on Facebook, rather than writing blogs?