Social consumption has declined because consumption is increasingly solitary. Put another way, people are spending more time consuming alone. This has consequences for mental well-being, social well-being and environmental well-being.
With the advent of cheaper electronic goods like televisions, stereos, personal computers, tablets and smartphones people isolate themselves much more than in the past. Our ever-present new technologies lure us toward passive entertainment and superficial connections, at the same time they make avoiding the task of human interaction easy. Prior to the advent of this type of secluded consumption people would socialise more, both in the home setting and out in the community.
Any type of sharing will reduce your ecological footprint. By consuming with others you are sharing your footprint with theirs. If you are at home with your family, by being together in one room, cooking together, eating together, being entertained together, you reduce the amount of energy that would otherwise be used if you did all those things separately. This includes the energy for heating and cooling, lighting, cooking appliances and electronics.
Taking this approach more broadly, if you go to a movie, a restaurant, a bridge club, a sporting event, a dance class, the theatre, and so on, you are sharing your footprint with many others. When people congregate they consolidate their energy use.
Social consumption not only helps you save energy, it can increase your happiness. Psychological studies have proven that people gain much more positive emotion when they are actively engaged in social, cultural and creative experiences, than if they are passively consuming mindless entertainment on their own. In-person interaction is not always easy. However, going to a good party, or even just having a good conversation, is usually much more enjoyable than being alone, for the very reason you have to put some effort into it.