We've already identified that most people of all ages are online. Only about 15% are well established. Another group about 10% have made good progress. The rest languish, forming part of the famous long tail. The long tail itself is a statistical reality that will always exist. That's not the concern. The concern is that the most of that long tail have almost no effective online presence. They are trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide. That need not be so. Any normal person can with 10 hours coaching and a little practice can easily become a skilled user.
Malcolm Gladwell has attracted a lot of attention recently in his book the "outliers" which is about what makes people exceptional. His answer, is 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. It's better if you begin early in your life. But in the end it's not about talent, it's mostly about hard work. But that's NOT what we need here. What we need for Internet competence is 10 hours training and a little bit of diligent work.
The Internet offers huge opportunity to "everyone" if they choose to DO something about it, but there is now massive evidence that the opportunity isn't recognised. There is a new digital divide developing. Those who actively use the Internet to develop interests and to expand their world are slowly joining the world of digitally literate people. Their interaction with the world will expand their knowledge and open new opportunity for them.
Those who reject this opportunity, or can't see the point, might be Internet connected, but can gain very little from that fact.
Those who argue that you don't need to be Internet connected to be educated and informed are correct. We know the formula for success, read at least one new book a week, read in detail at least one newspaper a day, and subscribe to several special interest magazines of your choice. That works. But it's much easier to be involved if you pursue the same interest online.
It's much easier to follow your interest or passion if you can do that with other people. That's why I recommend that you join discussion lists and online social networks.
Having joined, you need to do a lot of reading, get up to speed with the debate. Take note of who the main people are. Then engage, slowly at first. Ask some questions. Be the new person asking for help. Very soon you'll be accepted and engaged.