From Digital Methods, by Richard Rogers, loc 375:
To date, the methods employed have served the purpose of critiquing the persistent idea of the Internet as a virtual realm apart. Such thinking arose from the discourse surrounding virtual reality in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the Internet came to stand for a virtual realm, with opportunities for a redefinition of consciousness, identity, corporality, community, citizenry, and politics.1 Indeed, in 1999 in one of the first efforts to synthesize Internet research, the communications scholar Steve Jones invited researchers to move beyond the perspective of the Internet as a realm apart, and opened the discussion of method.2
As he goes on to write on loc 393, summarising findings of the Virtual Society? research programme:
With respect to the relationship between the real and the virtual, virtual interactions supplement rather than substitute for the “real,” and stimulate more real interaction, as opposed to isolation and desolation.