Uri Orbach of Ynet notes the same creeping stringency in the ongoing commotion surrounding separate seating in public buses that service the Chareidi population. He correctly points out that concepts and ideas that even the most stringent Jews would not have thought about thirty years ago have now become normative within the Chareidi community which, in turn, is attempting to impose its standards on the rest of the frum world.
This is how the process generally works. Someone comes up with a chumrah (you've all certainly heard of the Chumrah-of-the-Week club). Many times it's either a ba'al teshuvah looking for ways to up his observance so that he doesn't feel inferior to his frum-from-birth friends or it's a rabbi in an outreach setting who has a particular liking for this crazy stringency but knows that preaching to people who know what he's talking about will just get him laughed at. But ba'al teshuvahs? They'll try anything!
The next step is that other people see these stringencies being practised and when they ask about them they receive an innocent look back: "Well, it says in the
Finally, widescale observance spreads through the community and outsiders who refuse to hop on the bandwagon are categorized as "less frum" because they don't accept this chumrah which was almost universally ignored until recently.
Now, I'm not talking about actual halachos that fell into disuse over the centuries such as shaatnez, a married woman covering her hair, or chalav Yisroel in certain places. What I am talking about is sleeves that must go to the wrist (just below the elbow is fine according to most mainstream sources) and separate seating on buses. All these little things slowly redefine what's considered normative in Torah observance and leave more and more people who are really shomer mitzvos out of the increasing rigid group of people who believe that it is they who define what a mitzvah is and what it isn't.
It behooves us to remember that a way of observance, if supported by legitimate halachic sources, is as legitimate and "strict" as any other, regardless of the external differences.