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 with 10 hours coaching and a little practice can easily become a skilled Internet user. I've met people with 7 years "experience" who know very little beyond basic email.
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. In the end it's not about talent, it's mostly about hard work. Work is what we need here. For Internet competence one needs 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.
People feel reluctant to make a big deal out of changing who they are. Most people have worked very hard to become the person they have become, and would rightly feel insulted if someone was to say " that's not good enough". I am saying, that there will be a measurable difference between "YOU in 10 years time" and "YOU now", that you will change and grow and develop in many ways. If you are active on the Internet that will considerably impact on the directions you might take. Internet activity will enlarge your knowledge base, increase the size of your personal network and give you more opportunities to select from.
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.
I'm sure your mother or father gave you some good advice once upon a time. "Find something that you are passionate about and follow that passion with all your strength". Here's a flow chart of how you turn that advice into action. Enjoy what you are doing. Find other people who share your ideas. Join some groups. On the Internet that's easy to do.
The objective is to follow your interest or passion with other people. That's why I recommend that you join discussion lists and online social networks. If you begin simply by searching for the subject that interests you, some of the web sites will offer listservs you can join for members. Usually this facility is offered to anyone who's interested. If that fails, try a search for the subject and include the term "listserv". Alternatively; Yahoo and Google both offer "groups" where you might be able to find suitable discussions.
As for online social networks there are hundreds of those too. All I can suggest here is try Ryze, LinkedIn and Facebook for a start. If you don't have a business interest, give LinkedIn a miss and look for something else. On all these networks you'll need to create a profile for yourself. Don't worry about that too much. Simple and easy will do in the beginning, just be yourself and write something that you believe without trying to be too profound. Include a small photograph.
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.