"The greatest strength of the internet was removing all physical (and social) distance separating people who share the same interests."
Yes and no.
Yes, in that people who may otherwise have been pressured to conform to the current norms find strength in numbers, realising they are not alone.
No, in that that same effect can lead to people choosing to only associate (or at least strongly preference) those groups, neglecting the social interactions available to them in the 'real world'. It might be quaint thinking, but I believe that, to be a well-rounded person socially, you should be able to communicate with people on a range of different subjects and be able to find some common ground with most people. If all you do is communicate within the confines of a few niche interests then you are going to find that isolating.
Having deep conversations about niche subjects with like-minded folk can be very rewarding (and sometimes infuriating!) but if that's all you do then it strikes me as not all that dissimilar to parents who home-school their children because they want to ensure their children aren't exposed to any contradictory ideas. In both cases, it's a deliberate shutting off of the rest of the world.