The other day, my family and I had two visitors (an old friend of my mom's and the friend's husband). They brought gifts for my babies and also a few for us grownups. One was a plant grown by my mom's friend's daughter. So I emailed the daughter to thank her. No reply, except for an automated 'I'll be back at the end of August'. Naturally, she only has her work mail. Then my sister who is on Facebook tried to contact this woman there with the same result. That is just typical of a few people, mostly older ones.
I realize that I may be preaching to the choir here and in that case, just ignore this post. It won't be long until I share my next link and everything will be back to normal here. :)
I used to do these posts once in a while in the past. Now it's been ages, but I thought I might do it again.
Most younger people (say under 40) know all this, but I've noticed that many older people (and some younger ones as well), don't know even the basics of communicating over the internet. So, I thought I'd list a few suggestions.
First of all you need an email address. Once upon a time, people used to get one with their internet connection, but as far as I know it's not like that anymore. That means you have to get one yourself. The easiest way is to just sign up for a Google account. Among other things, you'll get a free email address with almost unlimited storage. There are other addresses that will expire if you don't log on for a while. I don't think Gmail does that. In any case, you also get all kinds of other things, like a You Tube account, which might be useful if you like to watch videos. Though personally I kind of like Vimeo too.
If you don't think you'll need all that or you have some other reason you don't want to use any service from Google, there are other options.
Zoho provides a 'business suite' for free. That includes an email account.
Gmx is a great alternative to Google (and Zoho). There's almost unlimited storage and all kinds of great features. Gmx is my favorite.
Finally, I can mention Protonmail which provides a more private alternative, if you're concerned about your email being spied on.
If being able to keep in touch is all you need, then this is it. You can forget about the rest.
Just one thing, please don't tell people you have an email address, if you don't intend to check for email once in a while, like once a week.
Oh, and most people seem to find it difficult to set up an email account on your computer, using a mail program. It can be a bit complicated, but most email sites provide detailed instructions. If you don't want to take the trouble, you can just log on to the webpage. Most email services provide webmail.
If you'd like to start using the internet a bit more, there are a few more things you need to know.
Search engines are very useful. If you're looking for shoes or toys or some gadget you can use search engines to find a good deal. There are also sites that compare prices etc. The same goes for most kinds of info.
Most people use Google search and that may be all you need. However if you're concerned about your privacy I can recommend Ixquick and DuckDuckGo.
Many people have blogs and/or homepages. You can get both from Wordpress. Lately, though, Wordpress has had some problems. It's still a great blog platform, but you may want to keep that in mind.
Wordpress.com provides a free blog/homepage that is hosted by them. Just get an account and start blogging. That's not all though. You also get access to several different other services. Primarily a Blog Reader where you can add any blog with a rss feed. You also get Gravatar which is a sort of online profile, where you can list ways for people to get in touch with you.
Dreamwidth is a cool blogging/journaling community with a free journal and communities for you to join.
Twitter is known as a microblogging community, where you can post short messages, status updates, share links etc.
Finally, I can mention a free service that provides you with a homepage. Weebly. Personally, I find it a bit difficult to use, but it's supposed to be very easy. You pick different modules that you'd like to include in your homepage. There are also different themes to choose between.
Themes are color schemes for your blog or homepage. You can get themes for basically any blog service you sign up for, and sometimes even your email too.
There are all kinds of other communities you can join for whatever interests you have.
My favorites are book communities. The most popular one is Goodreads, owned by Amazon.
LibraryThing is also co-owned by Amazon.
Booklikes is another book community and my favorite among them. You also get a free blog.
Finally, most people use chat programs and instant messengers.
If you're using iOS and MacOs, you'll get iMessages for free. It's also free to chat if you have internet access. Otherwise, if you're on your phone, you'll need to use your phone subscription. If you don't know the person you want to chat with all that well, maybe someone you've just met, you can just give them your email address. They don't need to know your phone number.
Others seem to be using WhatsApp. I haven't tried it myself, so I can't vouch for it. My sister tells me it's fine. Easy to use. And it's cross-platform, that is, can be used on any computer, surf pad or phone, which means you can communicate with your friends whatever platform they use.
There are all kinds of other sites as well, like 3D sites, writing communities and much more, but you can find them yourself, by using the search engines.
So, in conclusion: don't be scared to try things on the internet. Usually, it's not dangerous at all and I swear, your computer or phone won't blow up! :)