When the internet first came to Australia, my housemate's brother was the first to get it in his family. He would speak excitedly about it, telling us that you could look up anything, find schoolfriends, even chat live with other people from all over the world in the chat rooms. He kept going on about "the spokes in the wheels". What he meant by this was going to a web site, seeing a link or an ad for something that interested him, clicking on that, seeing a link to something else in the second web site, clicking on that and basically getting further and further away from the original reason for looking at the first web site by following links.
We all used to listen to him and and kind-of say to each other, "Mark is so into that internet thing but it sounds weird or too hard or even stupid."
Needless to say, it wasn't too long before I had the internet and could see exactly why Mark enjoyed it so much.
To give you a bit of background first, I'm a bit of a hermit. I very rarely answer the door, dislike answering the phone and only leave the house once a week or so and that's only when I have to, to do shopping or pick up kitten supplies. I am socially akward, I'm the person you see at parties in the corner, on thier own, either pretending their not there and wishing they could go home or else quietly 'people-watching'. I had a very, very rough childhood, which has left me with both physical and emotional scars. Because of this, I suffer depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic insomnia just to name a few. I have an IQ of 130 but cannot hold down a job or attend University. So you can see where my hermit-like behaviour comes from.
I do use the internet for all the usual stuff - looking up prices, researching medical conditions, reading up about my cats and kittens etc. The most important aspect of the internet for me is contact with real people in a situation that isn't threatening to me. I can type away and not have to worry that others think I am ugly or stupid or weird - things I continually obsess about in the 'real world'. I have very few friends and very little family but I have people like you guys on the internet. I feel more secure e-mailing my Grandmother, for example, than going to see her and even though I know she would prefer to see me, an e-mail now and then is better than no contact at all, for her. I do see her on rare occassions though.
I can use e-mail to ask internet or RL (real life) friends how they're doing without fear of rejection or judgement. For me, the internet is just about my only regular contact with others. I see my housemate every day but, apart from her, I can go days without seeing anyone, but still have contact with people over the internet. Don't get me wrong, I realise people can lie about who they are or perhaps act nastily on the internet just as in RL but there are a lot of good people out there too. You can see why the internet is my lifeline.