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Cocooning is the term used when a person isolates or hides him or herself from the normal social environment and instead opts to stay home and socialize less and less. This behavior is usually exhibited when one perceives the social environment as disturbing, unfavorable, unsafe or even unwelcome. The rapid innovation and growth of technology contributed to an increase in individuals who are cocooning themselves in their homes and choosing to socialize over the Internet rather than through normal human interaction. Because communication and entertainment technology are very prolific and can be found anywhere inside the house in many forms, more and more people are living in physical isolation.
This term was popularized by a marketing consultant and writer named Faith Popcorn in the 1990s. She explained that there are three different types of cocoon: the socialized cocoon, the armored cocoon and the wandering cocoon. The socialized cocoon is one that provides the privacy of the home along with the ability to socialize through cell phones and other media, while an armored cocoon establishes an invisible barrier to protect a person from threats from the outside, such as network firewalls and surveillance cameras. A wandering cocoon, on the other hand, is one that travels but provides a technological barrier that protects a person from the environment, such as jogging with headphones in order to create a private world of sounds and an excuse to ignore other people. People often use smartphones in this way as well.
Although technology makes cocooning easier, it not a new behavior. In fact, it became a trend during the Cold War, when people became engrossed with stay-at-home entertainment like playing home video games and home recreational activities, which later led to the adoption of home swimming pools and trampolines. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a new generation of cocooning took place. Homeowners started developing their houses with media rooms or home theaters and remodeled bedrooms and kitchens for entertainment. This was in part due to the fear that crowded public places would be the most likely target of terrorists rather than individual homes. As a result, people wanted to recreate public entertainment areas in their own homes.