I've noticed very little carry-over from forumming to RL. I was very shy all through highschool and spent quite a bit of time forumming. It did nothing to improve my social life or my empathy towards others. What it did do was that it lead me towards powerful resources (fastseduction.net, brian tracy, tony robbins, steve pavlina) and these resources gave me the confidence to go out and interact confidently in the real world.
So I'd say the internet is something that's seperate from "real world" interaction. Both are neat.