Dave Caolo wrote a great piece on the meaning of forging online relationships:
I'd argue that the definition of friendship hasn't changed, the delivery system has. Years ago, I kept in contact with far-flung friends with a phone call or a letter. Today, we send messages via text message or tweets. Does that make our relationship less valid? Does the act of conversing on a tiny screen represent an overt neglect of the what Sherry would call "the physical real?"
Online friendship can be just as valid as one conducted in person. Friendship is the same as it's ever been, only the delivery system has changed. Today I have opportunities to connect with more people than ever, and that's exciting. Social media is not a problem, but a benefit. I'm very happy to have it.
I completely agree with Dave's sentiments.
While nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, I'm a real believer in the concept that one can create very real bonds through the Internet. In my case, I have a friend whom I've known for about 12 years now, and we met online. We've never met in person (yet), but we've written letters back and forth and talked on the phone many, many times. She's even sent me pictures and yummy baked goods. We have a true relationship, and it needn't matter that she and her husband live in Minnesota, whereas I'm in California. Likewise, I consider several of my Twitter followers to be real friends; they're great people, and I enjoy following them. My Twitter experience is better because of them, and I value that very much.