Photography has always been inextricably linked to fashion, modelling and as a result, consumerism and our obsession with appearances - which really started stifling popular culture, again, in the 70s and 80s. On the flip side, photography in its nature is and always has been the best tool for questioning our perception of reality. If you spend some time looking at (what I can only call 'real') work made in the last 10 years, you'll see some of the most probing, challenging and inspiring social documentary work the medium has ever produced.
Here's the root of the problem here as I see it. People who work within the 'nu-classical' traditional black and white photography movement have a hard time digesting modern critical work, so only ever see the populist rubbish (ala Flickr), get swamped by it, develop opinions about modern photography based on it, and as a result retreat further back into to the classical photography ideologies of years gone by. I think this is where the viewpoint of this thread comes from. Interesting that some people here look at a lot of great early work by accomplished photographers, but only seem to look at bad modern work by amateurs...
'Amateur' photographers (by that I don't mean non-professional, but naive) have always tended to attribute creativity with navel gazing. Everyone does it when they start out with artistic intentions, in any medium. There's that line in Lost In Translation when she says something about taking "stupid photographs of my feet". The solution here might be to stop looking at photography made by teenagers!
Agree with the posts about self-promotion as a necessity today, but the ostentatious teething stages of this will eventually wane.