My grandfather was a painter. A quite well-quoted one in Germany. My mother sold some of his paintings after he died, that doesn't make her a heartless greedy horrible person. She also has all rights on any copy of the paintings, of course, even digital ones.
Back then, around year 2000, Internet access was still quite "confidential" in most countries, and MMORPGs are played by nerds and fans who were also for most quite literate and computer savvy, and also for most had a real passion for the genre.
But after 2000, Internet access became easier to get very quickly, cheaper too, broadband arrived in most country (DSL). New players joined those games, who just play MMORPGs like they play some console game and who don't care about the RP element. This includes a lot of less literate people, and of course also a lot of rude kiddies.
I agree with you that the EQ model and its forced grouping favors selfishness from players. And most of today's MMORPGs are based on the EQ model. It doesn't stop one from making friends, I have met people in WoW who are now real life friends, but in that EQ model, people tend to stick to their guild because outside of it, they have too big of a chance to end with assholes or immatures.
In AC1, there were quest leaders who were regularly organizing server wide events, Aerfalle runs for instance. Guilds weren't that important, everyone knew everyone on the server. That is also no longer possible nowadays with that "megaserver" system all games have embraced.
There are still a few AAA games that are not too much into that EQ style cloning though. GW2, BDO and ESO come to my mind.
1) Games today are almost all of the "EQ forced grouping endgame raid or die" style, encouraging selfish player behavior. In PUGs, people no longer group for fun, they group for profit, and they tend to do little outside of their guild. This was already present in EQ back in the days, but was made much worse by point 3 described below. 2) The communities have changed. Internet is more accessible, every moron and kid has a permanent access to it, making the average level of the online communities drop drastically. 3) "Megaservers" made communities so huge that it's no longer possible to know everyone on your server like it was back in the first MMOs (UO, AC1 and even EQ). This favors even more the behavior described in point 1.