Hey <span><a class="ajax" href="at?id=hubski">hubski</a>~
I tried to shout out the site in this post. Hopefully it brings a few more thoughtful individuals to the community!
I think about this and have discussed it quite a bit with people, and there are people in both camps. I'm the "the only real friends you have are the people you are friends with in real life and hang out with in real life", where others are in the other camp of "Just because I'm friends with someone online only doesn't mean it's any less of a friendship", but I beg to differ with the second camp. People who play video games like WoW, will always talk about "their friends" and how "social" it is, yet they don't actually meet or hang out with the majority of those friends in real life. Those friends aren't going to be in your wedding, they aren't going to be out drinking with you when you get that big promotion at work, they won't be at your funeral, and they certainly aren't going to help you move a couch.
But then the counter argument is always, "do those things really matter"? For me, yes they do, because interacting with them through my ups and downs in life are what makes my friends my actual friends. The people I only talk to on Facebook, even if we used to be friends years ago, wouldn't really be considered my friends now. Nor do I think, no insult intended, that anyone here is my "real" friend. Sure I like people I come across in online communities, and I consider them "online buddies" or whatever, but none of us who only know each other through Hubski really know anything about the other person. And honestly, we might not even really like hanging out with each other if we were to actually meet.
Real life friends are on an entirely different level than online relationships, and in my humble opinion I believe people who rely on online relationships for friendship are fooling themselves into thinking they are one and the same as real life physical friendships. A good subtitute in lack of actual friends, but definitely not a good replacement for actual friends.