For anyone to say that online friends aren't real friends obviously have never had an online friend themselves. They think that any friend you make online is just a creep wanting to get with you or something. Well, I'm on here, and I know I'm not the only one here that has that close connection with another online.
One of the things your online friends have that not many others around you have is a more open eye and world wide experience. You meet someone maybe from another state or country. You learn from them who they are and what they've experienced. More than often they will tell you their story. A story they've never told anyone else. The people I've met online I don't think I could ever meet in reality. Now my real life friends I do love, so much, but there is so much my friends online have done for me that I could never just look at these people and say "Eh, just people on the internet", more like "The people I love who have done so much for me and have helped me become the person I am today. And while I am far from perfect I have them to really thank for making me comfortable with my imperfection. They helped me learn things about myself and even though there's a screen in the way, their presence is with me regardless."
To me, a role model isn't just one direct person, it's all different types of people. We learn how? FROM people. What I learn, what I know, what I feel is thanks to the countless of people I've met online in my life. I'm getting the experience of knowing who these amazing people are without having to travel the world to talk to them. While it's very upsetting that you can't be there for them physically, the fact that they were in my life even with a screen in front of us is more than enough for me to appreciate them.