The general sense I get is that of agreement with the premise. People do believe that friendships can be made online.
I still struggle with the idea. And I think it is an issue of trust.
During snail mail days, writing letters was quite effortful. Writing long hand or typewriting could be tiring. And then you had to buy stamps, go to the post office, etc. Chances are, you'd have to be very purposive with your letters. And if a friendship is what you want, you'd probably be honest about yourself, about who you really are. And as recipient of mail from a pen pal, you would most likely trust the truth and veracity of the letter, of the identity of the letter writer.
But in the age of the Internet, when all the inconveniences and time delays have been almost wiped out, it is now all too easy to find 'pen pals'. All the social networking sites serve "new friendships" on a silver platter. And with that convenience comes the ease of being someone you are not. Slipping on a new persona, and projecting that online had made me skeptical of online friendships. God knows I have been a victim of that.
Before meeting Mr Ripley, I was as trusting of online friendships. I assumed that I was far removed from the world of deception. The people I would interact with are genuine and true, even if I just met them online. I saw no reason for them not to be honest about who they really are. And then I got victimized. Burned. Scorched. I was so foolish, so trusting.
i continue to meet a lot of new 'acquaintances' online. But unless I meet them in person, I cannot consider that friendship as real. Forgive me but I will continue to doubt who you are. But that will not stop me from continuing to talk or chat with you in cyberspace. If you are interesting and entertaining, I will look forward to chatting with you. If that online correspondence somehow sustains itself, and there is a desire to eventually meet in person, then the chances of us becoming real friends greatly increases.
Meanwhile, let's enjoy the banter and the story-telling, without having to put the "friendship" label just yet.