These forums are littered with "Why isn't anyone talking?" threads. Even those of us with active linkshells can still make an argument that the socialization level in this game isn't nearly what it was in FFXI. While acknowledging all the other other factors such as lack of incentive to party, different generation of players, etc, etc, I believe there is one other factor which hasn't been discussed to date, at least as far as I'm aware. In my opinion the combat system is hamstringing social interaction to a great extent. Even more specifically, the lack of auto-attack. In FFXI we could initiate the attack and then were free to do as we pleased until our TP had built and it was time for us to hit our weaponskill or skillchain macro. Then we would rinse and repeat as necessary. This left ample time for players to interact with each other and their linkshells. I enjoyed the talks that resulted from this opportunity. it gave me a chance to break up the monotony of long exp parties and allowed me to make forge new friendships with those players in my party.
By forcing us to interact with the combat system on such a continual and frequent basis, it is my opinion that SE has effectively eliminated this type of opportunity for social interaction. When you expand this to include the assumption that a majority of people spend a great deal of their in-game time in combat, I believe this provides a valid explaination for, at least in part, why socialization is suffering. Do others have this impression as well, or am I way out in left field?