I dislike the phrase “Internet friends,” because it implies that people you know online aren’t really your friends, that somehow the friendship is less real or meaningful to you because it happens through Skype or text messages. The measure of a friendship is not its physicality but its significance. Good friendships, online or off, urge us toward empathy; they give us comfort and also pull us out of the prisons of our selves. I imagine that part of Esther was sad to give up the illusion that she was going to be okay with her Internet friends, but what followed was a revelation for all of us. Our Internet friendships were real and they were powerful, and they became more real and powerful when Esther and her friends were finally able to acknowledge and openly discuss the truth about her illness.
— John Green (Talking about his friendship with Esther Earl, the girl who inspired The Fault in our Stars)