A lot of the people I know now, I first met online. When I was first able to say that it was a strange thing, now it's very much less so. Although there's still a frisson of weirdness, geekiness and non-social acceptability about it. However, I would like to argue that the people who argue that it's weird are probably the same people who sit around moaning about all the stupid, pointless and racist things people on their Facebook have said.
Because getting to know people online first is good. It honestly is. Where Facebook has never won me over is that it's a place for people you already know, not somewhere to do any actual networking. It's a useful tool, certainly, especially for arranging things. But beyond that I have little interaction with it.
The people who complain about Facebook are often people who are following everyone they've ever encountered, out of a sense of duty. I'm not criticising this. Office politics, family loyalty and old school ties can force one's hand and make these things unavoidable. But it's the people who you've met in real life first who will usually be the ones to suddenly come out violently in favour of "sending everyone with a 'Z' in their surname back to where they came from", or "building a death camp on the Isle of Wight".
This year I've made a number of new friends via Twitter and have now met several of them in actual real life and everything! The best part is there's few surprises there. For dedicated Twitterers like myself, there's no place to hide. I tweet pretty much every day that it's convenient for me to do so. People will know about the gloom, the frenzy, the whimsy, the gormlessness, the sweetness and the unpredictablity which are likely to make up a fully-fledged Dotmoment. Prolonged exposure to anyone in an online community is very revealing, especially once you are experienced in that arena and can read between the lines a little better.
I'm not saying that in future, everyone should live in a little box and only physically meet people that they've really got to know online first. But at the same time that is exactly what I'm saying. Let's make it happen today!