Today’s guest post is by Allen Mireles.

Social networks are exploding.

According to Hubspot, this year Internet users in the U.S. will expand to 239 million, representing more than 75 percent of the total population.

And mobile Internet users will reach 113.9 million in 2012, up 17 percent in 2011.

The number of new web users, including those with little to no previous experience, grows daily.

For those of us who work online, and hang out in social networks, it’s easy to forget what it was like in those first months of using the social web.

We’ve learned how things work, we understand the pace is furiously fast, and we’ve discovered some of the pitfalls and challenges.

Not so for everyone.

Lose the Training Wheels

Remember learning to ride a two-wheeled bike? Watching with envy as the kids without training wheels zipped past you, riding without holding on to the handle bars?

Those daredevils.

Remember how exciting it felt when they took off your training wheels and you teetered off on your own steam, figuring out how to balance, how to go faster, how to slow down or stop abruptly? Remember crashing? The skinned knees and elbows, tear- streaked face and bloody lips?

Riding your bike. Exhilarating, often terrifying–and at times downright painful.

For many, this entry into the online world feels a lot like the early days of learning to ride a two-wheeler. From the weeks and months spent quietly lurking, trying to figure out how it all works, to the the first sallies forth out onto the social web; the first tweets, updates, and even blog posts.

Stop Shouting!


Until someone tells them.

These people don’t always know how to create a password that isn’t easy to figure out, or why it matters. They don’t realize the dangers of clicking a link to see that video, or that the message from the friend on Facebook ,who is stranded and needs money sent to London, is likely fake and may lead to a virus.

Until someone tells them–or they learn the hard way.

Many don’t comprehend the depth and power of the web and its ability to connect people beyond geographic, cultural, and language boundaries. To create bridges between people and concepts; between problems and solutions. To enhance or damage reputations.

Share Your Knowledge

For those of us who live online and love the social web, with its pace, flexibility, vibrancy, and potential, the chance to share what we love comes naturally and often effortlessly. Reaching out to show someone how to dodge certain pitfalls, pointing out the things to avoid and to remember, sharing the shortcuts and the humor is part of the fun of it.

Well, it is for me, and probably for you too, but I see so many short tempered responses aimed at those who are still learning. I often post warnings when I read about a virus that is spreading, or remind followers not to click on a link to see a video, or tweet to let someone know that they’ve been hacked and need to change their password.

More often than not I get snarky comments from people who assume we should all know these things by now.

We don’t though. Not all of us. But those of us who do can help those who don’t.

Some will learn quickly, jumping in enthusiastically, consuming information with voracious appetites. Others will make painful mistakes–over and over again.

Some will walk away and dismiss the social web as having no value, but thankfully for those of use who love it, a new crop will show up bright and early the next day!

Allen Mireles is vice president at Arment Dietrich and is based outside of Toledo. She has diverse expertise in healthcare IT, manufacturing, and education. You can follow her on Twitter at allenmirelesadd her to your circles on G+, link to her on LinkedIn, or friend her on Facebook.