Originally Posted by WillYouStopDave
I tend to think it's maybe a combination of everything but at the end of the day, I do think SA is probably just a normal human response to the unnatural state of the world we live in. For example, fear of strangers/unfamiliar/unpleasant situations is probably an evolutionary relic that we actually needed to survive when we didn't have nice, safe communities with cops to keep us safe and so forth. This is all pretty recent. You probably wouldn't go out your door without a weapon in the distant past. And you'd probably be watching everything and worried constantly when near strangers.
Society just doesn't want to accept this because the number of people who can't adapt is relatively small.
Well, the existence of people with SA is a well known phenomenon, and everyone has SA to some degree, some people just have a very sharp form of it that prevents them from socialising freely. The society knows it very well and accepts it, even if some of its members do not fully understand it.
I'm not sure I believe that it comes from the distant past. I think it's the way any society naturally conditions its members: societies are only stable when the majority of their members have a lot in common, and that makes the society strongly discourage "abnormal" behaviors. A kid laughs loudly at a good joke in a restaurant, his parents tell him to be silent, and the kid is traumatised and learns that being loud and laughing is bad and dangerous - and over time such experiences accumulate and scare the person into submission to the arbitrary societal norms.
I've always been an odd one, not really conforming with the societal expectations, and that led to a lot of rejection experiences in my childhood and teenage years, generating a fairly strong social anxiety. It took me a lot of time to reassess my values and realise that a lot of the things I was afraid of were just the results of other people telling me what to do, and that I didn't have to care about their opinion much - and still I can't say I'm free from the societal judgment.
This fear is present in everyone to some extent. As someone said, "Only two types of people are never afraid: killers and idiots." But some people have a much bigger threshold for things that make them scared, either because of their happy childhood, or because of their ability to reassess those traumatic experiences and move on.
There is probably a biological component as well, but it seems to me that, regardless of how strong it is, our society is organised in a way that strongly encourages development of social phobias. It will be interesting to see how it will be 100 years from now, when so many venues for escapism appear that many of us won't need to ever interact with another human being again. Perhaps socially outgoing people will start becoming extinct. Or maybe, in contrary, we will develop some medical advances that will allow us to completely annihilate any anxieties. Will see.