I get MP3 downloads and all sorts of stuff like this - sharing music with people of similar passions which might never happen otherwise
I'm pretty sure that singing together involves more actual interaction.
I spend half my time on the computer. I have a lot of good friends I rarely or never see offline. I interact with them through text based media. I have a sibling who talks to a community of friends over Skype. Occasionally, music gets shared, but it is no big thing. When music sharing is a big thing, it doesn't have much of a community aspect. YMMV, but from what I see of music sharing on the internet, I fail to see any social context.
If I go to a pub and we have a sing and share songs, that is instant social. Even the people who don't sing are involved. Listening to cds and mp3s is not the same, even if you are listening in a group. On my own I might just listen to a cd and focus on nothing else, in a group setting is is usually background.
Do I think one way is better than the other? Of course not. And perhaps in Brian's example people sang because they actually liked to sing, and when working it helped them focus better? I don't know, and unless you were there or knew someone who was, you don't either. I certainly find I get through work faster and more happily if I sing than if I have music in the background. The latter distracts me. I know that isn't the same for everyone, but it does invalidate the idea that singing is a substitute for better forms of musical delivery. And to impose your own modern view on people from a different generation is no different to what you are accusing others of doing when you claim they are fantasising about a fictional past.
As for the music itself... I like it. My reason for liking it has nothing to do with some idealised notion of the past, although I do find it interesting how songs were collected and have changed over time. I just like it for reasons that cannot be pinned down. Although strangely, the sound of it does play a large part.
Suibhne, I'm sorry, but this thread reads like you are trying to start a new religion, but claiming your new religion is the old religion, and that it follows your arbitrary notions. There are several people here who have said it isn't so cut and dried, and you tried to shoehorn their views to fit what you are saying. This may not be your intention, but you are pretty much telling people you understand their interests better than they do. Never a wise move.
Actually... I just refreshed before sending. I think that is exactly your goal. You insult people's interests, and then tell them that they should be cringingly apologetic just because you feel you are right. No facts are mentioned, only conjecture based on your own understanding of other people, an understanding which originates from your own biases on the subject. Your concertina comments were bogus and you claim yourself it was because you don't 'get' the instrument. Likewise you don't 'get' the rest of the things you are talking about. It does make those comments insulting. You are not debating. You are trolling.
View folk as you wish, especially if it allows you to get more enjoyment out of it, but don't start treating your view as gospel and those who disagree as the unenlightened masses.