Here's the thing. As Shakespeare wrote (or Rush...) "All the world's a stage and we are merely players, performers and portrayers, each another's audience upon the gilded stage."
Add to that Sturgeon's law, that 90% of everything is crap.
People love to express themselves, but most people have nothing really that important to say, but a lot of people don't care
whether they say anything important
as long as it is in some way mildly amusing
When you think of what people prefer to spend their time doing online, what they are doing, more than anything else, is a form of chatting. We're doing it right here. And most chat is disposable small-talk. Which is, arguing about "x is better than y" (like JJ fans vs. the purists). Now, is anybody's post on this subject a work of art?
How about the lengthy comments under youtube videos? How about the ideological flamewars underneath news stories?
Now let's take the next leap up. Internet celebrities who have developed massive followings via merely running off at the mouth about things they probably don't know very much about, but since they exhibit some sort of quirk or wit, people somehow become interested enough in them to sub. Like this guy:
The next step up you have Jersey Shore or AM talk personalities like Rush Limbaugh.
At what point does expression cross over and have some sort of artistic merit? And how many people really care one way or the other?
Just as it might be entertaining to have a beer and listen to your obnoxious friend make a fool of himself by being obnoxious, celebrity these days seems to be driven more often than not by simply being a fool or being shocking, but not really exhibiting any particular talent.
I mean, we're at a stage where memes like Grumpy Cat are getting movie deals.
That's the difference now vs. the time of Plato. Back in Plato's time, only a small elite in Greek society were well versed in the arts. The majority of people were living agrarian lifestyles and they had little knowledge of the arts, because it was long before the printing press.
But now, the field is completely level and democratic. You'd think that the cream would rise to the top, but it doesn't, because like I said, people, by and large, are not looking for transcendent experiences. They are looking for a steady stream of novelty and amusement. And lots of people are capable of doing that.