What I mean by masturbatory is in the stroking of egos on a quid pro quo basis. Let me explain!!
When we attend any group event there are certain protocols to which most attend. As you walk by people at the event whom you know but not really, I mean you've seen their face, recognize that you have seen each other but that's about it, there are certain social conventions that need to be met. If the event is a large event, maybe a high school's 25 year reunion or family event, you might know that you know this people but not enough to have a long conversation. Truth is you could not care less about any conversation with them but social convention states we need to acknowledge them. You shake hands, give the head nod and ask " How are you?". They give the same head nod but add a shoulder shrug and answer, "Great just wonderful and you?" You keep walking but answer, "Great just great. Have a great day". Both move on happily that both understood the rules; be polite but keep moving. We are satisfied that we gave the other the least acknowledgement possible but did acknowledge them really. You might do that 10 to 20 times a day.
That handshake and question is the equivalent to the 'LIKE' on Facebook: quick, easy, no big commitment and only the expectation of a return handshake. If they do not acknowledge this simplest of social convention, next time you look the other way. Sometimes happy to not extend this faux friendship any longer but resentful that they dictated this mini breakup. It's the same thing on Facebook. They don't LIKE your post (the handshake) then you don't like their post.
Let me change the location of this meeting. You are at a meeting of like minded people, maybe a business meeting, a place to exchange business cards. You meet a person, you stop hold the handshake a little longer, look them in the eye and truly have a conversation. Maybe the conversation starts out about your business or theirs, you both listen attentively and one may ask for a few more of their business cards to hand out to some people you know that might be interested in their services. That is the equivalent to the Facebook 'SHARE'. You both part with an implied agreement to look into each other's business a little more, visit their website and explore their business. Some will and some will toss the cards when they get home. This is the equivalent of people on Facebook that always 'like' but don't take the time to leave comments and never visit blogs.
On Facebook often the only time people will truly get engaged with your business (web site or blog) is if you visit theirs, quid pro quo. If one party does not have a blog with which to interact, they revert to the like button with a few "great, just wonderful" over and over again. You like me and I'll like you and we all feel wonderful to have given the least acknowledgement possible but it's a small ego stroke.
If you belong to a group of artists, the whole relationship is usually more supportive, more honest and at least the equivalent of the 'Share' on Facebook. Most times, they are much less worried about stroking each others EGOS and more about being supportive giving and taking constructive criticism (comment section on blogs) or sharing ideas, a meaningful exchange of ideas!
I am wondering if involvement in Facebook, in an artistic or business sense is worth the time. I see a decision coming real soon on my part.
By the way, if you're still reading, I freely admit that the quality of content helps drive participation.