Apologies for saying 'he'. Unfortunately, in English you use 'he' as the pronoun when you aren't aware of someone's gender, and it's quite annoying. Thanks for clearing that up. I'm fine with you're language- the 'vitriol' is referring to the torrent of criticism from the people who aren't justified. But in your case, it certainly makes sense. I actually switched from KDE to GNOME 3 after using GNOME 2 for only about a year, so I don't really have anything but my contributions and verbal commitment to GNOME 3's design philosophy to justify my needs as a user. It's unfortunate that some people who have stuck behind a project for so long get shafted like that (reminds me of what I'm hearing from Windows users, lately).
If I'm being honest, I feel like GNOME should have a new name regardless. It's sad when people look at GNOME in awe and say, "what's that? It looks so cool!" and I have to fight back a chuckle and say, "it's gnome." "You mean like, a garden gnome?" they ask. "Uh, it's an outdated acronym... *cough*"
Luckily, though, there's Cinnamon, MATE, and XFCE, which are all viable replacements for GNOME 2. I always recommend XFCE for people who prefer that kind of interface since MATE and Cinnamon are more like unofficial hacks which on some new developers working on upstream/abandoned code rather than a team with full control over their resources. It just tends to be nicer when you're not relying on someone else's stuff too heavily.
But I still think that's not a very happy solution, since most people want the shiny bits of GNOME 3 without the revised interface layout. Saying 'use XFCE' could be seen as an insult, in that case.
So yeah, I can only sympathize with you on being so devoted to GNOME and loving it for so long and having this update land in your lap. That doesn't justify the complaints of people who only recently started using Linux, of course.