...or you could get better at lighting not editing, or you could get better at technical details and not editing, or you could get better at catching the right moment and not editing.
The point is all of those things are a part of photography. there are plenty of photo editing techniques other than HDR that, after being applied to photos you would claim "not photos, but digital works of art". How about excessive gaussian blur to enhance the subject focus, or piles upon piles of layers upon layers to make something look better than it actually did or cloning out nuisances? Every method of photoshop or darkroom techniques is a manipulation of reality.
You think Mr. Ansel Adams just printed straight from the negatives?
"Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships!"
So yea, HDR is a flashy and extravagant editing process that is now readily available to any noob with a point and shoot. Just don't get all fussy if more people end up looking at someone's HDR photos than a traditional dynamic range photo and then blame it solely on the fact that they are HDR. That is never the only reason people would look at or like a particular photo. It is the feeling you get overall.
So when I'm looking through photos to finalize, some of them look great out of the camera and others I would love to enhance. I want the viewer to get the same "eye-opening, extended dynamic range and unreal" feeling that I had when I took the picture originally.