The pointless 'How are you?'s and similar lines make me shiver to this day, I've heard them way too much, ones that have no intent behind them, talking for the sake of talking without anything behind it.
"How are you"
"That's good/That sucks"
--end of conversation--
But no, seriously don't be fooled by the sheer number of bad candidates, it's the same way in real life, you don't click/can become friends with just anyone on the street without sharing something 'important'.
I've had, and have numerous very long lasting great friendships (and relationship still for years) with internet-met people, 4 years ago I've met some really amazing people on this very forum even.
Picking the right people and getting in touch is an art on itself but it's not a hopeless cause the slightest, I started with no experience too.
In fact, me self-learning english and venturing out to the internet with international eyes was the greatest thing I've ever done, I can look for people with similar interests however I want, and with a much, much larger audience from all over the world opposed to the lagging-behind-in-time, shameful country and place I live in.
I have friends of course "real" friends as you would call them, but calling them real is deceiving, since you can meet very real friends on the internet as well.