Is IRL All It's Cracked Up To Be?

I've been thinking about the richness of real world connections [IRL = In Real Life] vs a purely virtual dynamic.

The stream of Tweets and blog posts from SxSWi are filled with awesome [some even inspiring] stories about relationships transitioned from Tweetdeck to a BBQ joint in Austin. 

And if I'm not mistaken, I saw a message from Scott Monty just a few days ago that the word Tweetup just enjoyed an anniversary.  Who among us hasn't put aside our social anxiety to throw back a few beers with some Twitter friends?  Fun and hilarity [and often times, karaoke] ensues.

So clearly there's a warmth and fuzziness that comes with making connections in IRL.  But is IRL always necessarily the goal?  Of course it is.  Wait, is it?? 

Maybe not. This thought from Jim Mitchem made me reconsider ... 

Smashadv twitter

I respect Jim's candor on the topic especially since, as he states, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. 

It's particularly appropriate that Jim's Tweet is what made me reconsider.  He and I have never 'met' yet have participated in the BeanCast together and exchange messages often on Twitter. 

And while I think Jim's great - and sure it would be cool to serendipitously meet him some day - our connection doesn't depend on it.  In fact it's probably easier this way.  I think Jim would agree.

And just when I think I have it all figured out, there's a guy like Vinny Warren who I've met twice IRL but communicate very often with on Twitter.  I plan on hanging with Vinny again - not every month but once or twice a year.  Knowing Vinny IRL adds important texture.

Clearly I don't have it sorted out.  Though as I think about it, while my relationships with Jim and Vinny are mostly online, I first met Vinny in IRL, continuing the digital dialogue thereafter.  Maybe that's it.  Maybe the IRL ice was broken before it ever existed.

Or maybe Jim just seems scary hiding behind his orange orb.

What do you think?  Is IRL all it's cracked up to be?