There's a well known line that a 'stranger is just a friend you've never met'. Well, that's a lovely rule to follow, but not always true of course. And in pre-internet days you'd never have made a friend you'd never met except, perhaps, a pen pal.
But the delights of the internet are that you can make friends, real friends, that you've never met. And sometimes you get to meet them, and sometimes you don't.
I have good friends - friends who came into my life in different ways and some who were here for a reason, a season, and a lifetime.
I have friends I made over the internet such as Cathy (in Ireland) and Nadine (in the US, pictured left) who I have met and who have deeply influenced my life. They've been a terrific support in hard times, great fun in good times, and opened up my life. I now travel to Ireland and the US to visit them and we will be friends come hell or high water!
There are also 'lost' friends you find again on the internet. Facebook is a typical example of how this can happen. An old school friend, a former lover, a long-lost family member... or a friend of a friend that you share interests with.
There are also friends I've made who I've never met. There are people I have learned to admire like WoodlandDave on Twitter. A real nature explorer and education specialist. I've never met him, but I know he's someone I would like. And then there's Linny - we don't just tweet at eachother, we have a dialogue and we 'chat' over twitter and Facebook. I know already I like her. She is a friend, even though we've never met.
The internet is, of course, a potential minefield of danger and duplicity. But if, like me, your basic instinct is trust, it can be a heck of a good place to make new friends. Just don't ever send money, and never arrange to meet anyone you aren't absolutely sure of.