With the introduction of mirrorless cameras, and some large sensor compacts, I guess it can be said that photography is becoming a hobby for everybody.
In the past, a compact is truely a point and shoot, as in everyone just point at something and shoot without much thinking.
Nowadays point and shoot almost certainly comes with PASM modes offering many controllable options that would not be given much attention to 10 years back.
Together with the rise of people's understanding to photography, many are realizing more expensive cameras usually has a more shallow DOF (larger the sensor, higher the price, as most of you would agree).
This generalization of
shallow DOF = expensive gear = sense of a professional photographer
may have lead to people favoring shallow DOF, since they enjoy being seen as a pro photographer with expensive gears, be it full frame body or something like those f/1.2 lenses.
If you go to a book store, you may recognize there is a tonne of "beginning photography" books targeted at newbies, and almost all these books will mention how to achieve shallow DOF.
That is what I think. Just like mobile phones, 20 years ago it used to be an absolute luxury that only made sense to CEO or company executives. Nowadays babies are playing angry bird on the subway.
It is a bit similar with photography, cameras not only need no film now, they are cheaper and more versatile, packed with more advanced modes and functions previously exclusive to professionals. As a result more and more people are aware of the hardwares and their limitations.
Finally, as with anything, expensive and high performing equipments are always chased after.