But you think it is an American thing.
Yet Mr Berners-Lee has been awarded honorary doctorates by both Harvard and Yale because of his work that makes modern social media possible. Just how many folks do you think get awarded honorary doctorates by either Harvard or Yale, let alone both?
No Mr Berners-Lee, no mass social media.
Simple as that.
Makes one wonder how the world managed to invent anything at all pre-1776.
To move more directly to your main post topic.
I too am old enough to remember BBS and acoustic couplers.
But the thing is, I think you are mixing up the conservatism of aging with the apparent impersonality of the web (arguably Mr BLs greatest invention).
When one moves to a BIG city (as I did when I was 22), one can recreate oneself with whatever persona one wishes. Nothing new in that - folks have been doing it for centuries. New place, new start, new identity. New clothes, new music, new friends. One has no past and the future is what one makes of it.
Such it is with social media. For the folks that have always had society's crutches to prop them up, that much FREEDOM is scary. But for those with open minds, the world is their lobster.
Years ago, international letter writing used to be a thing. Now it is social media.
Years ago, newspapers carried "lonely hearts" adverts. Now it is online.
The medium changes, but the message stays the same.
For those with an open mind, the world awaits.
And for those without, the risks are the same as they always were.