I remember the day so well.

Facing some health issues I had decided to take time out from my IT career and move to Port Stephens; concentrate on getting well and create a new vision for my life. I spent twelve months at Hawks Nest; walking on the beach, meditating, eating fresh fish and salad and hand painting ceramics.

It worked and at the end of twelve months I moved to Nelson Bay and decided it was time to connect more fully with the world.

I purchased a Windows desktop computer and put in place a dial up connection. How old fashioned that sounds now! It all started well, but then I had a glitch that needed resolution. That was when reality hit – I was no longer able to call the in-house IT support team. It was a rude shock, but I picked myself up, purchased a copy of Windows for Dummies and resolved the issue. In retrospect, it was probably my first step into a disintermediated world; one where as a consumer I accessed information directly and resolved the issue for myself.

Of course technology has since moved on in huge leaps and bounds and we deal daily with laptops, notebooks, tablets, mobile phones, wireless modems, printers, ADSL etc. etc. It would be fair to say that in our household technology is important, although sometimes loathed. It is at the loathing stage that we call in help when we can’t resolve an issue, but mostly we figure it out.

Whilst we are sometimes challenged by the technology we also exploit it fully. Yes there are days when we feel like throwing it all in the lake shutting it down and walking away, and we do.  But most days we use our technology to the fullest and cannot imagine life without it. In fact it may just be dangerously addictive and as I write this post from the lovely Sunshine Coast of Queensland, I see clearly the tension between the power of the technology and the risk of being always connected. We shouldn’t wait for a technology challenge as a trigger to put it down and walk away. We need down time every day.

But, but, but the power of the technology cannot be denied and we use it daily, wherever we are in the world. We do our banking online, we check our investments online, we buy and sell shares online. We research restaurants and accommodation and book travel online, we shop online. We run electronic calendars. More importantly, we remain connected with our physically distant friends and family online; we email, we Skype, we Facebook, we Instagram, we Pinterest. We also use Twitter as one way to keep up with the news. And at the height of an Australian summer, we use technology to keep track of bush fires near our home. It would be fair to say that we live in an online world and we mostly enjoy it. It is an important part of the daily management aspect of our Wheel of Life Balance.

Of course if you are reading this post then you too are living in that world, to a greater or lesser extent. But not everyone does, some need a trigger to get online, some simply refuse. It is interesting to see what those triggers are for our communities. In his work with his school reunion community, Rowan has found that the ability to connect with old school friends via Facebook has been a driver for some of that cohort to enter the Facebook world for the first time. But not all; some don’t have email and may not have a mobile phone. But by and large, we of the baby boomer generation are big users of social media (particularly Facebook) and other online services. If you are interested, you can check out some social media usage demographics here.

Others choose to be online more selectively than us, they don’t do online banking or they still buy a newspaper, perhaps they only use email but no other online services. But what wonderful choices we are able to make. And as I get out my crystal ball I imagine a day may come when going out to do my grocery shopping may be a bridge too far (I know, I am one of those sick people who doesn’t mind the supermarket). How helpful to be able to order online and have it delivered to your door.

So, tell us, what is your favourite online tool or site? Do you use social media? Are you online for business reasons or pleasure, or both?