There's an interesting rant over at The Recumbent Blog called "The Bicycle: Toy or Tool?
"In the U.S., bikes are marketed as fashion statements, requiring replacement every couple of years for fear of looking passé."
He goes on to make the "user-friendly" argument that Rivendell pioneered to promote their ergonomic bicycles. I bought into this a few years back and purchased a Rivendell. No regrets.
However, the notion that "carbon fiber and aluminum racing bikes with spindly wheels, splashy graphics, and pencil thin, high-pressure tires... are only marginally useful as anything other than toys" is simply untrue. Indeed, I ride with plenty of people who have used such bikes daily for years--for recreation, commuting and "credit card touring"--and certainly seem to enjoy themselves.
Perhaps what we are really dealing with here are conflicting marketing visions: your hype vs. my hype. Sheldon Brown liked to point out that every bike rider wants to think that his preference is not only best but perhaps the only way to go.