I chat online. I am sure it isn't a huge surprise. Small towns don't always yield a group of friends for someone of my difference and it leaves me with little option if I want interaction. I also met my husband online.
What does this have to do with writing? Well, a lot, I think.
When you are in a chatroom, you must convey your messages with clarity. Yes, in the days of short hand and "leet speak" things can get lost but stop and ponder the connections. You can't make bonds on something that is essentially paper conversation without putting yourself out there with meaning and accuracy. You must delve deeper into words and put feeling behind them. Friends for life are found here and so are enemies to the death. People can even fall in love just by what you type.
Chatrooms allow you a more uncensored look at people's thoughts and interactions. Many online take on a different persona than the one they show you if you were in the same room with them. It is a peek under the mask. It is a glimpse of what darker insides look like. (I am not saying everyone in chat works this way but if you take a look around for awhile, you would see what I am saying.)
There are also multicultural benefits to meeting others online. I have learned quite a few little things about other cultures just by observing. There are so many variations of geography in many chatrooms and it is really worth a lot to a writer at times.
Am I insisting you guys get an ID and hop from room to room gaining insights? Well, no. Chatrooms are really not for everyone. I am simply telling you what can be gained should you already be there or question if something a lot of people consider a "waste of time" can be valuable.
I am just telling you what I learn about people as I visit these places. I am letting you know how much of everything dark and light shines even in words on a screen.
Do you chat online? Do you like it? What knowledge have you gained as a writer or as a person?