Enter MySpace. Now if you want to know what your friends are doing, you just look at your event invites. If you don't want to go, there's no need to make excuses over the phone. Just say you forgot to look. You don't have the benefit of that friend pulling your leg telling you it just might be fun. It's easy to miss out on things this way. But it's SO much less of a hassle, right?
The flow of information has gone from push to pull. You can now look up only what you want to see and ignore everything else. Even searches about heated topics like war, religion, etc - the result of your search depends on how you perform it. People aren't often challenged by new and opposing information. They have enough online friends that share their opinions. When you talk to people in the real world about the same subjects, you are getting a somewhat random mix of opinions. You risk having to defend your view and even having to change it. Online friends are easier to deal with because you've pre-screened them based on their interests.
Look at radio. It used to be that we were given a set of songs that were repeated over and over until we liked them or tuned out. The only way to hear new music was to go - gasp - OUT to a bar or club. Now we can download just the songs we want, or check Pandora for recommendations.
My point is that people are lazy. It's natural to look for the path of least resistance. Often times, the internet is that path. The internet only got as popular as it did because of this. It's not a chicken-egg thing. People created the internet. We only have ourselves to blame for the isolation. We asked for it.
Is it really such a bad thing? We look back fondly on a time before the internet. We think that time was wonderful because it no longer exists. We remember study groups at the library and honestly think they are better than independent research online. But we forget how interaction with others often slows down our individual progress. You're only as strong as the weakest link. If the collective knowledge of your own pool of friends is all you had, would you know as much as you know now? Or is it that we are starting to believe that knowledge isn't all it's cracked up to be? What can you do with it when you are all alone?
Maybe it is better for people to help each other, to strengthen the weakest link instead of tossing him overboard as dead weight. Sure, that's better for society. But not for the individual. What we are seeing now is the struggle between the two. At the moment the individual is the one who is winning out, and that is why Americans are perceived as shallow and selfish.