I am looking forward to meeting up with my friend AKMA in Oxford this morning (a fortunate by-product of having to cancel London meetings to take my daughter to her first day of work experience at The Oxford English Dictionary). AKMA and I have been friends for thirteen years. I have no hesitation in counting him a friend, but we have only met face to face a couple of times in all those years.
My kids will occasionally rib me about only having internet friends and not having real friends. Yet when Halley Suitt, Doc Searls, Megan Murray or Paolo Valdemarin have been to stay they have ended up saying "You know Dad, your friends are really smart and really nice". To which I respond "Yep, it's just that my standards for friends are higher than yours and mine are further apart".
I know people struggle with the idea of real friends who don't meet, But increasingly physical proximity is not necessary to build real friendships. In some ways, I would argue, the exchanges we have through blogging reveal more about us than we are comfortable with in face to face exchanges, certainly with casual friends.
My kids know that look on my face when I am stuck at a social occasion, say with a parent from school, with whom I have nothing in common, being forced to listen to them droning on about their job or football, wishing I was on the internet having a real conversation with real friends!