I see a lot of posts from both new and returning players how they're having a hard time getting into groups and how the game feels empty. We could talk about what the game itself can do to alleviate that issue, but plenty of people have done so already. I'd like to focus on helping those people right now, as well as talking a bit about why social interaction in this game feels different than it did almost 15 years ago.
First off I need to mention that I'm mostly just writing from personal experience, I've been exploring various internet forums and platforms, as well as online games from about the time vanilla released. While there are certainly people who've been around longer than me, I feel like I've been active during the entire evolution of internet culture in WoW's lifespan. Secondly I need to admit, I didn't actually play vanilla for an extended period of time. I only fairly recently came around to subscription based models, so my experience with WoW from that period came from playing on my friend's account and private servers. But the community back then didn't feel fundamentally different than most other online communities back then (me mainly playing Guild Wars for my MMO itch back then).
I think the core difference between online interaction then and now is that the new car smell is gone. It's no longer new and exciting to talk to random internet strangers. A lot of people do this daily on their choice of fora and, more importantly, everyone has already had one or more bad experiences, souring the taste. This seems to have shifted the core desire of online gamers, rather than constantly meeting new people, most people prefer to play with a set group of people that they know/trust.
This is why general chat is dead, this is why no one says a word in LFG. It's not that people have stopped talking, they are just talking in guild/community/whispers/discord instead. While this is a bit unfortunate for new players joining a game, it's not an insurmountable problem. My advice for people looking for folks to play with: shift your focus from trying to engage in small interactions with random people to joining an existing community. People don't really care what you have to say during the 10 mins they are sharing an LFG with you, but if you show at least the intent to play with them for a longer period of time, they will almost automatically be more interested in you.
tl;dr join a guild/community/group of friends instead of relying on LFG and pugging
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