I heard a phrase recently, one I've said before, one you've said before, and one everyone has heard.
"Real Life comes first." usually in regards to family/health/external issues that usually pull a persons attention away from art/internet/community.
And at first its a harmless comment used to make people feel less guilty or more secure in their decision to ignore the wide interweb and any obligations made in the confines of the net. I mean, it will always be there right? You can always pick up where you left off right? No one can fault your for focusing on "real life" when things get rough.
Untill you start looking at how you view the internet and your "net friends".
I am extremely attached to some of the friends I've made online, more attached to them than some friends i see on a daily basis. Have i met them? no. Have I ever heard their voice? no. Do we converse outside the confines of the web? no.
But that doesnt make them any less "real".
My gallery here on DA is my real gallery and portfolio. Pixel-Glam was my real community (before i lost the ability to doll. I still keep in touch with my friends from there.) the time and laughs and sorrows we share online are REAL to me and I value them on the same level as I value the time i spend with friends in "real life".
For some people the internet IS their real life. They have no friends outside the internet. They work online, they play online, and some even find LOVE online. They are able to see and visit new places and people they would have never know existed without the aid of the internet.
To some people the internet is an escape; like a good book or a movie to waste time. But unlike books or movies, the 'main characters' are real people who create real relationships with other real people. To deem the relationships anything less than real is a insult to all those who spend their time with you.
The phrase "Real life" pertaining to offline events will never fade. But recently I see it more as a negative comment than a reassuring one so Ill try to not use it.