What I was a boy and we moved to California from New York, my old friends soon became just a memory. Writing letters or even occasional phone calls aren't that easy for eleven year old kids, and I soon lost touch.
Future generations, from here on out, won't lose touch in the same way. For years, we've heard about an online "community." Today, that community really exists. More often than not, it's an extension and expansion of social contacts in the real world. "MySpace" is one of the most popular communities. It offers a customizeable "home page," on which users can maintain their profiles, favorite music, video, and personal blogs. Just as important, other users can add public comments to their friend's "myspace" sites. Friends have an opportunity to learn more about their current friends and keep up relationships with their old friends. With the arrivial of real-time video and audio, some childhood connections may never be broken.
The much heralded "online community" is in large part an enhancement of real-world friendships. Each online teen today is developing what will evolve into a vast network of near-permanent relationships that will impact his or her life and career in ways we can't possibly anticipate. The internet as a widely used resource is still less than twenty years old. It's impact on the social fabric of this country won't be understood for a generation.