THIS month Buckinghamshire County Council announced it was doing more to bring everyone into the 21st century – to take advantage of its online services and make the most of the internet.

Aside from saving people trips to the library, say, to renew books or pay bills, the new online approach saves a fortune in public money for transaction costs (with an average online cost of 15p each, as opposed to phone – £2.83 – or face-to-face – £8.62). It is, by and large, a good thing.

Preaching to the converted is one thing, though – persuading the technophobic is another matter entirely.

It is a tricky one. Even now an awful lot of people are scared of the internet, not quite realising how much it is probably hampering their own ability to operate in the world these days.

I’m happy to say my own parents were admirably quick to get online and keep up with technology. My in-laws are another story completely though, and the only real reason seems to be that sort of vague fear of the new.

Unfortunately, the internet isn’t new anymore – like it or not, it’s our well-established way of life and it has changed everything – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Computers themselves don’t help that much. Considering they are such ingenious machines and can perform astonishing feats if you stop to think about it, lots of them can barely operate on a more day to day basis.

The very machine I am typing this on is incredibly reluctant to cut and paste copy. I don’t know why it won’t perform that most basic of word processing functions, just that it doesn’t and to date our IT department has apparently been unable to work out why too.

Aside from the fact that it has almost caused the laptop to be smashed repeatedly with a hammer by myself (the only reason it hasn’t is because I fear it would look too much like that bit in Fawlty Towers where Basil attacks his car with a tree branch), it wastes a lot of time.

Similarly, my own laptop at home frequently decides to cut out from the internet for no apparent reason. I don’t know why, haven’t been able to work it out, and probably never will.

And this is a big problem – every computer I have ever used has always had quirky glitches that stop them working like they should. They have all stopped short of gaining artificial intelligence and trying to murder me like the HAL programme in Kubrick’s 2001, but you can see why people worry.

Technology is unpredictable, often unfathomable and, unless you are an expert, using it is probably a bit like praying to the ancient Greek gods before setting off to sea and hoping for the best.

And yet despite all this, the internet – while having a dark side that is open to abuse, like any technological breakthrough – greases the wheels of life to an incredible degree. To not embrace it at this point is just to cause headaches for ourselves.

From paying bills to getting cheaper car insurance and good deals come Christmas time (yes, I know we should be thinking of the high street too, and preferably not lining the coffers of tax-avoiding online juggernauts).

It is, for anyone willing to use it the right way and with care, an incredible boon, and often a money-saving one too.

So BCC’s initiative to get more of us using its online services is no bad thing at all. The trick will be making sure the people who resist the idea come round to the digital way of thinking and take advantage of any of the mooted sessions that will help people get up to online speed.