Matthew, another way of looking at it is that the internet's social media have provided people who are uncomfortable with other people (shy might be a better term than loser or nerd) with the opportunity of easing in to personal contact by first getting to know people in a safe environment, i.e., some place where they can lurk for a while before speaking out.
I've met a significant number of people who, like me, have a very difficult time at networking events just going up and introducing oneself to even one other person. We're the ones who hope someone will take the first step in just saying hi--yes, I know it's not a very effective method, but for many of us, just attending an event is a personal achievement.
A lot of us are not outgoing sales guys, but more introverted entrepreneurs, focused on the services or products we provide to our communities--but because we don't have staff to handle public relations & marketing, we have to wear those hats, too. Social media helps break the ice.
I don't have the gift of gab, I shrink from using the telephone (I blame my mom for that one), nor do I have the ability to schmooze. But lurking here, with time to craft my comment in response to yours, I want to say I appreciate your point of view when it comes to the point that it is still important to get our butts out of the house/home studio/whatever and widen our circle of contacts.
I didn't think your comment was particularly harsh, but still, it was pretty blunt. My question (sincere, not rhetorical) to you is, if you were at a networking event would you make such a blunt statement--announcing it to the entire group? I can see where anyone, including me, might be rather blunt in talking to one or 2 people I knew well, but in making public statements we might agree that putting a positive spin on anything we say (first impressions count, don't they) would be a good thing.
My point is not that I don't appreciate your statement, but that the safety provided by this online media allowed you to say what you're really thinking, blunt or not.
Bottom line is that in this day & age, it is important to do both: participate online AND network in person.
Matthew, I'm not offended by anything you said, but you did stir me up enough to bring me out from my lurking and I thank you for that. :-)
Miles, I would think that 2 basic reasons more people read than reply to a post:
1) it takes time away from other tasks that need doing,
2) it's the same as anything else: only a small percent of people respond to free offers or gifts, write letters to the editor, or even vote. Which is why we have to send out ten times more postcards than the number of leads we hope to gain.
Nonetheless, what is cool is the number of people who are actually paying attention & reading.
One might leave a solitary trail in the sand, but apparently there are still those who are noticing your path from further up or down the beach. Thank you for encouraging us to take the steps to leave our own trails.