THE BLOG
10/02/2011 02:30 pm ET | Updated Dec 02, 2011

Internet: It's Not Too Late to Join the Reindeer Games

I was born at the tail end of the Baby Boom ('61), and most of my friends around my age don't use the Internet for much more than Amazon and email, just like they did 15 years ago.

A few who have teens or kids who've gone away to college have grudgingly created Facebook accounts. (When I mentioned this to a 30-ish geeky friend last year, he said, "Yeah, Facebook is kind of turning into Mombook.") Most can manage text messaging, but Twitter? No way.

But who can blame them? For the last 15 years people my age have been too busy with families and careers to find the time or motivation to play around on the Web. Or maybe they just weren't into "the computer thing" when it all started.

But however peripheral the Internet may have been to our lives 15 years ago, today we live and breathe it, and so do our kids (or grandkids). These days, some of my friends are a little lost and starting to wish they weren't.

If you feel like you've missed the boat, don't despair. The good news is that it's actually getting easier to benefit from what the Internet has to offer, so this is the perfect moment to get on board.

The tools that enable us to communicate, collaborate, create, share, participate in communities, and be entertained have matured and become more sophisticated (like us) and, at the same time, they've become more user friendly.

Standards have emerged, and there are now generally accepted ways of being online. Smartphones and tablets have made it easier and more fun to use the Internet. Plus, we have a resource today that we didn't have until quite recently -- the "digital natives" -- our kids (or grandkids) who've grown up in the era of personal computing and the Web and for whom all this stuff is second nature.

You can probably tell I'm a bit of an Internet evangelist, but I only turned out this way because I had to make a virtue of necessity. There was a period, nearly 10 years ago, when I was very isolated and lonely, with only my coonhound and my computer for company most of the time. And the dog wasn't much of a conversationalist.

It started innocently enough with my selling vintage jewelry I didn't wear anymore on eBay and taking an online class in web design at the local community college so I could make an annual web page instead of sending out 60+ Christmas cards every year. Next thing you know I'm a tech blogger.

There are those who assume, thanks to the persistent stereotype of the geek glued to a computer and surrounded by empty potato chip packages in a gloomy room, that people like me don't have "real" life. This isn't true; I have a very real life that is simply enriched by the Internet.

I've known people to be defensive, disdainful, or even hostile when I or others have talked or blogged about the joys of the Internet. But here's the thing -- it's not as if anyone's asking you to choose one or the other.

Maybe it's best to think of the Internet as a vitamin supplement -- or better yet, dessert -- and your real life as your healthy, balanced diet. There's room for both. Everything in moderation, as they say.

It's not too late to join the reindeer games. If you don't know where to start, ask a kid or a friend to help you out. Sometimes it's simply a matter of diving in, no matter how old you are, which is precisely what geriatric1927 did. He posted his first video on YouTube in 2006, and nearly three million people have watched it since then: