I refuse to think we all just "grew up at the same time ... all of a sudden" ...
Nah, I don't think it's that. I think that the novelty of meeting strangers online for anything other than sexual purposes has worn off to a large extent.
When I started out online, everyone was into chat rooms. Now nobody uses that shit, or at least I haven't heard anything about them in years. Then ICQ and MSN messenger and AIM and all those were popular before everyone had cell phones that could do the same things, but those have all but died off too.
Chat programs were popular about the same time as the rise of the various social media sites, a lot of which were used for a combination of people we know "IRL" and random strangers. I know one of the things I liked about facebook when it first got popular was that unlike hi5 or MySpace it was almost entirely for people I actually knew, and getting added by someone random was a lot rarer.
Obviously, message boards have been around longer than pretty much anything else online, but they've traditionally served a different purpose than any sort of live chat OR private messenger systems, in that they allowed for discussion of various topics, and one didn't actually have to be there at the time of the discussion to be part of it. It makes for a more interesting, and often more well-thought out discussion.
I believe that a big reason that most of the other social media sites failed while facebook succeeded is because they were able to take some of the chat experience, some of the message board experience, and some of the social media experience, and combine them. People post things on their profiles (basically like people posting new threads), they pop up in people's newsfeeds, and people like or comment on them. It doesn't usually make for the type of epic argument or discussion that message boards have allowed, but I think that's partly because people's attention spans are getting shorter, and since almost everyone uses their real name on facebook, people are a little more hesitant to express potentially unpopular opinions, be they genuine or trolls.
But still, lots of times the sort of things people used to post on message boards now get posted on someone's page on facebook, and commenting ensues. Which kind of makes non-topic-specific message boards redundant.
Which is our problem here. To get back to a really fun, hopping board, we'd need new members. But how could we convince anyone to come post here? Why should they, if they don't already know us, bother going to a whole different site just to post about the same shit they probably already do on a more central platform like facebook?
It's sad, I loved and still love the message board format. But I'm glad this place is still here, even if it's probably doomed to never be what it once was.