Dear Malcolm R. Parks and Kory Floyd,
I like that unlike many authors you tell truthfully not only your own opinions, but both sides of it fairly. Many of the people interacting online think and feel that these relationships they form online are deep, meaningful and better in many ways than their real life friends. They overcome not being able to see each others' body language with more text or emotes. I think that because you do not see the other person, you are more likely to open up to them and when you do, the bond with them gets stronger, unlike in real life where you may be afraid to show your true feelings or thoughts.
At the same time you mention the darker side of online interaction, like gender switching and other identity manipulations. Gender switching can be fine because what our sex is should not matter, but sometimes it also goes too far or is done in malice. I know of a case where someone pretended to be female just to try out the role and he played it so well that he had to reject a male player. He could never tell the other player that he was really male because he did not want to destroy the other person, but after that he never played another female. While online relationships can be amazing and nice, people who manipulate their online identity for malicious purposes are always around. Not knowing if the other person is really who they say they are is scary because you do not know if they are someone your age or a child molester.