The post below on the disappearance of public showering in cocooning times got me thinking about where else we've seen a major change in awkwardness about uncovering our shame in public spaces. Other than bathing, the only other bathroom activity that we do in front of others is taking a wiz.
Unlike showering, where guys now wait until they get back home, we can't always hold it in when we need to go. So unlike the unused showers, public urinals are still in use. But it has become more common for them to have partitions between them so that no one else will see your shame.
I don't remember those at all from when I was a kid, and they do seem familiar at least from the last 15 years. I tried to find out more precisely when they started becoming common, but couldn't tell from Googling. Maybe a visit to Lexis-Nexis would turn up some industry reports about these newfangled urinal dividers. Someone else can look that up, though.
I also couldn't tell how common they may or may not have been during the previous cocooning period of the Midcentury. Some pictures of bathrooms built back then show partitions, and others don't. Even when they're there, some look original and others look like recent remodels.
That being said, I'm still going to call urinal dividers as a cocooning-era sign of anxiety about showing your shame among in-group members who would've been trusted in more outgoing times. In socially withdrawn times, more and more guys act like Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe in a public bathroom.
These dividers are not only installed in highly diverse places where everyone is a stranger, but in those where folks know each other and come from similar backgrounds.
Believe it or not, there is an entire blog dedicated to the current state of bathrooms at Brigham Young University, in the heart of homogeneous white Mormon land. (You never know what data sources are only a few exits down the information super-highway...) And judging from these pictures, their typical bathrooms have partitions between the urinals. Somehow I doubt they were in place back in the '70s and '80s.
In outgoing times, which required greater interpersonal trust, nobody thought twice about draining the snake around others. In a cocooning climate, when people are more suspicious of one another, they're much less likely to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to uncover their shame around strangers.