I think it is now seen as a way of affirming one's identity.
Before, tattoos were mostly about membership of a group: a biker gang, the Yakuza, the navy, etc... Now, it's more personal with people coming up with their own designs. Your own body is obviously a very personal thing, and modifying it in some way is a clear sign (to yourself and to others) that the words/modif you have tattooed on are deeply personal and of great importance to you. I mostly understand and respect this, although personally, I cannot imagine being so confident in my current mindset to have something done to me permanently. But it is this very permanence that gives the meaning to the tattoo.
Then there is a growing number of cheap tattoo parlours in somewhat trashy touristy areas which cater to drunk revellers. Possibly there are more of these, or they are cheaper than before. Or simply the kind of people who go to them have more holidays than before. I've heard of youth hostels in Rio de Janeiro that has a tattoo 'artist' visiting at 2am on a Friday night and does whatever tattoo you want there and then for $5. That, I have absolutely no respect for, but possibly condolences for the drunk teenagers making mistakes.
People don't consider their employment prospects when they get one. Or how they'll look with it when they're 60 or 70 or 80 years old.
And getting them on their face/neck is absolutely obnoxious.
But...if you just have to have one...at least make sure it's personal and unique.
There is nothing more silly than seeing a female with a tattoo of -- guess what -- a rose ! Yeah, right. Like I've never seen that before.
I always think to myself, "you spent how much money to get that, it makes you look like a redneck skank -- and you still couldn't at least pick something more original than that ?!!"
And the guy's version of the same thing is the "barbed wire bicep" tattoo.
People just don't seem to realize the gravity that they're making a permanent decision, and they won't be able to change their minds later.
And I almost never make a decision that I can't come back from.
While we're bashing recent fashion trends, extreme hair dying. Whatever happened to dying your hair brown, red, blonde or black? Now we get every colour imaginable and unimaginable, sometimes all of them at the same time.
There was the Chinese character tattoos of the 90's, I always found that weird, rednecks tattooing Chinese characters on themselves when they have absolutely no connection with China or it's culture. Was the tramp stamp craze before or after that? And the more recent star tattoos, be original and get the latest trendy tattoo.