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I am wondering what is the concept of the bold part here? although I know what it means. Meanwhile, would you please show me what is the difference in meaning between the italic part and A-- my revised?

A. old and new friends

Social networking is an important part of many people's lives now where massive numbers of people congregate on sites like Facebook and interact with friends old and new, real and virtual.

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Thanks. I cannot yet get what is the difference between the following conceptually, or how do they differ from each other here? old/ new/ real / virtual

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Thanks

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A virtual friend in this situation might be a Facebook friend who you have never met. Although they are a real person, for all intents and purposes they might as well be virtual.

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Real refers to things in the physical world, whereas virtual refers to things that exist on the internet. It's one of the words used to differentiate what you "have," or simply have access to, in your online universe as opposed to the things in your actual world.

Another way of expressing this is with the prefix cyber-, for example some people have lots of cyber-friends, but few real friends.

Finally, you can simply use online as an adjective: I have more online dictionaries than I do real dictionaries.

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Virtual there means "simulated, not flesh-and-blood", such as role-playing personae.

After reading further, I see that they're using the word virtual as a synonym for "online", which is an invalid use in my opinion. A pen-pal is not a virtual friend, so why should an online acquaintance be considered virtual?

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