One of the most common criticisms I hear of online interactions is they aren't real. I'm not sure what "real" means except to say that i expect to most people it means face to face. While face to face communications are still important and will alway be, they aren't required any longer to maintain relationships.
I've seen several articles like this one that state teen driving is down. I think this is a real fundamental switch in the way people interact. When I turned 16 I got my drivers license that same day. I drove to town so I could meet others and go where I wanted, all to "maintain" relationships. But that was before myspace, facebook, twitter, AIM, xbox live and most importantly SMS.
Now relationships are created, developed and cultivated over the air, on our mobile phones, computers, and consoles. Take for example that some 20% of marriages now were the result of meeting online. Even if the relationship isn't formed online, once you form a real relationship you can do a good job of maintaining that via online services and text messaging.
Finally, I think that is a real reason that the older generation just doesn't get "social networking" and wonder why would someone text hundreds of messages a day . At one time the barrier to getting a "typed" or printed document to someone was very high. There was a high cost to typing or writing a document and then mailing or somehow getting the document to recipient wasn't trivial so what you wrote down NEEDED TO BE WORTHY OF THE COST. Thus the follow through that these people think online updates are full of mindless dribble about what someone had a for lunch. The same people wouldn't hesitate to tell someone face to face what they had for lunch but by typing it somehow transforms that to meaningless information. However, that's not how the current generation sees it, they see it as maintaining a REAL relationship.
I'm building a startup called ServiceVines. I live far out from civilization and like it. I get really too excited over tech, economics, and food.