I was wondering that too - thanks for asking I'm too scared to go into chat, and even posting is a little hard, so I feel like I just randomly spew out comments now and then but don't really contribute. Then I feel like an outsider in talking about what an outsider I feel like!
I have online friends that I talk to through PM. Maybe start a topic, like I did, on the "Social Anxiety Friends and connections" forum. You will probably need to take the initiative and contact those who post on your topic though. Only a few people contacted me on their own.
I chat with a bunch of people through msn & I've found that most are pretty cool. I'm not interacting with anyone besides family in my life so these online friends are a positive for me. I also read posts by certain people here regardless of the topic because I find their responses are usually very interesting.
As for those who don't want to make online friends here you can turn off(or adjust) PM's & visitors messages in your profile options to eliminate the hassle of receiving messages that you don't want or are scared to answer
I am new, haven't been on even a week, but I have found that the one chat I was part of was a better way to feel connected to the SAS community than the posts. The posts are very helpful for information and for being supportive of each other, but you don't get that same immediate connection as during a chat. The irony is I am not really a fan of chatting, I take longer to think about what I want to say and write more than most because I type fast. Still, on the one SAS chat I did last week the people on were very witty and accepting of a new person who doesn't really have the "ropes" yet
PS I friended all the people who replied to this thread (unless you said in your post you don't want connections). We new people have to start somewhere...
Actually, my feelings have changed a little since last posting in here.
I started to believe I felt a really close personal connection with one particular member on here I recently started pm'ing. However, something has told me since that my first impressions were way off - for various reasons. I still feel really stupid over it. As feel common sense should have told me in the first place, that it's silly to assume you really know a person just because you've shared a little personal info with them - and especially if it's only online and you've just exchanged a few pm's.
Still that said, it hasn't put me off talking to other members on here. And I would very much like the chance to get to know others here a little better in the future - even if it is just online. This is something I've already started to do, which I'm glad I have.