Well, first of all being “online” 20 years ago is much different than today. Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads didn’t even exist back then.
Blogs and authors websites are essential for any author - that is where you interact with your main fanbase. - and yeah, I’m saying different - My book sales bought directly from the store on my my website alone is enough to pay my yearly bills.
As for making friends with authors online - 100% wrong - I’ve learned so much from meeting fellow authors. Especially those in the indie community that are generous with sharing what works, what doesn’t and so forth. And there area a TON of writer groups of Facebooks.
But the thing you didn’t mention - which is the MOST important is Goodreads.