Not a rhetorical question. On the one hand, I expect police and FBI would be swamped by constant bullshit. I expect that every online forum would experience some extreme chilling effects from the overreaction of every moderator towards the prospect of violence. But I also expect civility would increase markedly. And I wonder if the ephemeral aspect of online discourse that used to excuse its baser behavior is falling by the wayside, and I wonder what that recalibration is going to look like.
While I do not think he was right when Marshall McLuhan claimed, "The medium is the message", there may be something to unpack there.
911, fax machines, and phone operators have dealt with bomb threats, sales calls, and the like, since the phone was invented. We don't hear about this stuff very much anymore, because our systems have evolved adaptations to abuse.
The rise in Assholes of the Internet is not unique to the medium... there have always been assholes. They have stood on a soap box on the corner, used a megaphone, spammed fax machines with bullshit, sent spam emails, doxxed their fellow gamer.... remove the medium, and it is quickly apparent that all these things are similar in more ways than they differ.
The internet is no different. It's just young, and largely developed by techno-libertarian inbreds who do not get out in the real world enough.
MySpace would only be a sophomore in high school. (2004)
Facebook (the anyone-can-join version) isn't even a teenager. (2006)
As people react to the utter deluge of shit that pours over us every day from our social feeds, the tools will have to change.
Logically, I expect there will be a Great Shrinkening, in which people demand and get tools from their social networks, that allow them to reduce the amount of incoming stuff to "relevant to me, and my 20 mile radius", plus "interesting" international news.
Yes... I'm betting the interface to the internet that people will be using in the 5-7 year future, will look a WHOLE LOT like the old-fashioned home town newspaper: Primarily content about the communities you engage with physically (and some digital ones), with a smattering of global/national news that covers topics of specific interest.
A smart newspaper.
After all, that model worked for centuries. It iterated. Revised. Experienced competition. Built sales and distribution models. Adapted to changing technology numerous times. And it still survives (kinda) today.
The TOOLS for the internet are immature, and written by the immature. They will grow, mature, and change, and I expect we will have glorified digital custom "newspapers" that we curate with our own rich filters and tools, and auto-adapt to our geo-location, as we move about our daily lives.
And then? The assholes will have their megaphone taken away. And will be neutered again.
Like the Michigan Militia - who faded into irrelevance once the journalists stopped writing about them, and people realized they were a bunch of fucking muppets, with no skills, ethos, plan, or vision - assholes of the internet will fade out once we stop paying attention to them.
But it ain't fun using these shitty tools, while the tech bros do their growing up in public, while destroying public discourse.