"Hey, Lynn, I just read about this new device," I said to a therapist friend who'd come for dinner. "Imagine watching the Olympics or some other big event," I explained while slicing tomatoes for our salad, "but instead of an old-fashioned remote, you have this gizmo that lets you tell the producer what you want to see, search for information about whatever's on the screen, and talk to other viewers around the world. It'd be like watching TV, Googling, and tweeting all at once. "
When I looked up from the chopping board, Lynn was hunched over, hands covering her ears, eyes shut. "Stop!" she begged. "I can't take any more."
Lynn's no Luddite—she's been e-mailing since the late '90s. She has a computer and broadband, and spends time on the Internet searching, reading, making purchases, meeting people through dating sites. After a bad breakup, she spent a few months chatting in an online support group. Last year, out of curiosity, she reluctantly joined Facebook. And to shore up her practice, she began working with a designer to create her own website. Having an Internet presence has already resulted in new clients, but she still feels overwhelmed, if not a little bit intimidated, by this new digital landscape, constantly shifting under her feet. "I have this feeling that I've been left behind, and I'll never catch up."
Who can blame her? Ten years ago—light-years in Internet time—a "hot spot" was a trendy nightclub, criminals had "profiles,"…