I have heard a lot about how online friends are not the same as the friends at school, work, or anyplace else. There's the fact you can't really meet them, they may have a different personality than they're letting on, and a whole bunch of other things. 

But there's nothing better than friends who are different.

Having made friends from Xbox Live recently that are absolutely cool, I felt a need to praise them. You learn so much more about these kinds of people in an hour than you ever would knowing someone for a week. The atmosphere is usually pleasant (except those weirdoes who like to spend their time screwing everyone else over) because we're all playing games. We are all enjoying our time.

They are also the people you can ask questions that you wouldn't dare ask some of your not-as-close friends. Things that maybe your best friends can't relate to, but this stranger can give you an answer to. It's probably not the safest thing at all times, but it's better with Live than on chat sites and such.

Which brings us to voice chat. Not only can you at least guess at the person being who they say they are, but it's easier to get a feel for their actual personality from what they say as they play. The friends I've met hang out in parties a lot online, and I rarely see a huge change in behavior when they talk to other people. It's slightly more reliable when getting to know a person than with the world of text.

Xbox friends don't always work out--I've had fall-outs with people before--but it's the same way with friends who can chill on your couch with you. They can be there for you without being right there for you. I've met some great people in various places that make getting on my console ten times more enjoyable than before. To that I say, thank you.