@pirateguillermo Well, I wasn't on the 'net at all in the 90s. Some replies in this thread make me think a similar culture existed in the late 90s, which makes sense.
But for me, the real shift away from this "shock culture" online happened when some of the more mainstream teen-oriented platforms, like Tumblr and Instagram, became very popular outside of specific demographics. It meant that the people coming in to these cultures didn't grow up on IRC or XMPP networks, where things were more ephemeral and private, but rather out in the open; it was seen as much less acceptable to troll someone by showing them something shocking, partly because that interaction would, by default, be recorded semipermanently.
This was especially evident to me as someone who was, at the same time, part of "boys club" gamer nonsense, and the thriving (and socially somewhat more sensitive) online LGBTQ+ community in the early 2010s. The teen/20s gamers still did this shit, but none of the young queers did.
@pirateguillermo I think it's part of the reason that spaces like imageboards and ephemeral E2EE chatrooms have become more and more radicalized spaces. There are other reasons, but the currency of communication there is abuse and trauma, and that's no longer seen as acceptable in a more mainstream and, frankly, more corporate Web.
@tindall You may be onto something with your point about ephemeral communication. I observe with hope the reframing of “cancel culture” as “consequence culture”. I’m not quite sure how to say what I mean, but I suspect that there’s a lot going into toxic / shocking comments beyond the idea of speech as performance without consequence. So I wonder if some of what you’re seeing isn’t simply the toxic discourse happening in places you aren’t looking at (anymore/yet)?