I think I feel as uncomfortable using GNOME 3 as much as you, but for that matter, I cannot use any kind of desktop environment. So I'm neither a GNOME fan or detractor, I'm just a weird user.
However, GNOME-like environments did provide more than one concepts that were later incorporated in other environments — Including the industry mainstream.Take as an example transparency handling and live window miniaturization (adopted in Windows Vista and 7). The "wobbly windows" and "cube desktop" ideas were loved by some, but it does not matter too much that they fell out of favor: They displayed ideas (and implementations) that would later be copied elsewhere.
Yes, I know the wobbly windows are based on technology which is not so distant from NeXT's Display Postscript (and of course became part of MacOS X). But the transparency was added in Linux-land and later appeared in Windows. Going back to a tiling interface (which, yes, was Windows 1.x but largely disappeared from the mainstream for >20 years) is also a Linux contribution; I started using a tiling WM in 2006, and saw that concept start being adopted in more mainstream Linux environments some years later; it seems nowadays tiling WMs are allthe rage (as they are part of the "tablet mindset" we all love to hate).
So, yes, there have been concepts introduced (or re-introduced after a too long hiatus) both in GNOME-land and in the wider Linux-land. I won't go into more details as I'm GNOME-illiterate, but some bits are easy to find :)