Examples of people cocooning themselves more over the past 20 years are too numerous to list. But one apparent counter-example is Black Friday -- even if only for a day, aren't people out-and-about, strengthening social bonds by buying gifts for others?
For awhile I didn't have too good of a feel for what this day has been about. I've avoided shopping on Black Friday for a very long time because I sensed that it was degenerate, totally unlike the mall during Christmastime in the '80s when it felt more like a carnival, everyone feeding and feeding off of each other's high spirits. After a little reflection and a look through newspaper articles from the '90s through today, it turns out not to be a counter-example at all.
The vague image we're given in the media, or that we invent ourselves, is of people who are so intent on buying so many presents for so many people, that they can't get in the doors early enough or behave themselves well enough. The competition to get the best gifts for others has just become too chaotic.
In reality, hardly anyone goes out on this day to buy gifts for other people; at best it's an after-thought or rationalization. Rather, buying a handful of things for others has become an excuse to buy stuff for themselves at deals that will never show up the rest of the year. Estimates from the 2000s were that anywhere between 50-75% of people were buying things for themselves while Christmas shopping, and that the average person's self-indulgence accounted for nearly one-quarter of all dollars they spent (around $150 out of $650 total).
The first references to this practice of Christmastime "self-gifting" (how's that for Newspeak?) appear in 1993. This is right as the crime rate is turning around, causing society to shift from the tragic-romantic side of the spectrum to the trivial-efficient side. Already by the early 2000s, this gradual change has moved far enough so that newspapers regularly comment on the self-centeredness of Black Friday shoppers.