Each succesive generation of JWs has a different "relationship" or "connection" to the organization. I was raised in it during the late 50s through the sixties and have vivid memories of the "old school" Witnesses from the 20s and 30s who knew their stuff. Man, could they debate issues and confront slack thinkers! I so admired them at that time. of course, they are now long dead. They really would have been better to have redirected their fearsome energy elsewhere given how much they embraced the delusion.
And, yes, I agree Wasanelder Once, the literature back in the 50s and 60s was substantial and required hard study (okay it was slanted to the Watchtower's views but it was "meaty").
Of course, there have always been "hangers-on" but as the decades have passed the proportion of hangers-on to committed active publishers has hugely grown. One of my strong impressions before I left in the 1980s was how much of a social club the organization was becoming even back then. From family and acquaintances reports, that is more so the case nowadays.
Today, your average Witness is incredibly poorly able to defend his/her beliefs - but (and this stands out big time) doesn't even seem inclined to want to defend those beliefs. Yes, there'll always be exceptions - but again, its the numbers thing: Very few Witnesses are able and/or prepared to really sift through the arguments.
Shunning those who question certainly has many advantages! You don't have to think issues through for starters.
And the calibre of the current literature is embarrassingly lightweight with huge fonts and large "pretty" pictures. Where are the heaving blatant warnings of the imminence of destruction that typified the literature of yesteryear? I loved the pictures of Popes riding the multi-headed, blood-soaked beast from Revelation.
This organization has always been about change in one form or another (e.g., Rutherford left the organization in a totally different state from Russell's day, and Knorr transformed the organzation even more during his presidency).
However, recent changes, especially the sudden embrace of the internet, have rendered the organization superficial in outlook with an almost bumper-sticker mentality of mindless adherence to policy and procedure.
Oh, and it's great to see that, in this kind of simpleton setting, more and more brave souls are not only waking up, but choosing to investigate the hogwash featured in jw.org's "smile-heavy" literature.