Ask Slashdot: Do We Need Pseudonymous Social Networking?
Maybe you can't find people from real life with pseudonyms, but not all of us have that problem. Where I'm from -- literally, my geographic area -- social networking under nyms is so normal, that if I want to find someone on the internet, I say, for example, "Hey, are you on LJ? I'm so-and-so on LJ." And if they want to have anything to do with me, they can come "friend" me there. I have almost 300 people on my LJ flist, about two thirds of whom are people in my f2f social circle, the vast majority of whom I've worked with as a musician.
No, the pseudonym-finds-pseudonym thing only breaks if you can't or won't ask someone what their nym is. In other words, it prevents you from finding people who don't want to be found, and who you have no in-person contact with. Sounds like a feature to me!
Web Chats Help the Chronically Ill
You are being flip, but I'm a graduate student in Mental Health Counseling (as well as a web developer :), and a number of my professors -- including the quite wonderful one I had for my class in Group Therapy, the class text for which extensively documented the benefits of support groups -- are openly skeptical that computer-mediated communication (CMC) even counts as socializing!
In a strange way, this research supports the controversial contention that CMC actually is socializing, because it shows that some of the results of in-person support groups may also be found in virtual support groups. That certainly suggests the same psychological processes and interpersonal dynamics are going on in both cases, and that is most definitely not a foregone conclusion!