The Guardian's Anna Pickard asks why online friendships are still treated with such disdain
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When I first started using the internet I half-believed that, when I turned off my computer, all the little people in the box went away.

But ten years after I tentatively introduced myself to the World Wide Web (yeah, remember when it was called that?) with the catchy monicker of 12.3421.7643.57.e@compuserve.com (or similar), many of the people I connected with then are still in my life now.

They're down the pub, they're in my phone, they're on my Christmas list, they come to my birthday parties.

In fact, Anna Pickard is one of them (although I forgot to send cards at Christmas, so ssh).


And they're all kinda normal.

Not a one of them has tried to groom me, purchase me as a bride, cook and eat my liver, or pass themselves off as Nigerian nobility in an attempt to get their mitts on my bank details.

At least not yet.

There are a few whom I haven't physically met (because they live in bunkers deep under the ground waiting with shaved heads for the mothership to deliver them come the Rapture very far away), but I feel as close to them as I do to my "real life" friends.

Closer, possibly.

Due to the distance between us, we exploit the ubiquity of the internet, and these friends probably know more about the minutiae of my life than I have time to tell my "real" friends in between the catching-up of news and the decisions about where to go for lunch.

Of course, not everyone is a deep, brooding geek like me who formed abiding friendships in AOL chat rooms while bored.

But our lives are moving more and more online. Many of our "real friends" are now people we keep in touch with almost solely by Facebook, text message, Skype and Twitter.

I mean, how many parties or events have you received Facebook invitations for?

So why are people who do the reverse of that - who make friends online - still regarded with a pocket-protector, serious role-playing, sex-dungeon-in-suburban-basement flavoured prejudice?


Image courtesy of Becky E's Flickr stream.