On Social Anxiety

by F.

In “Pets,” Perry Farrell, formerly of Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros, sang

Will there be another race

To come along and take over for us?

Maybe martians could do

Better than we’ve done…

My friend says we’re like the dinosaurs

Only we are doing ourselves in

Much faster than they

Ever did

We’ll make great pets!

We’ll make great pets!

We’ll make great pets!

We’ll make great pets!

This song contains, I think, an important insight that I’ve used to overcome social anxiety from time to time: people are animals. The smartest animals on the planet, but still animals.

The next time you feel socially nervous, think of people as pets—as animals. Maybe monkeys or apes or orangutans. Most of us like animals. Animals are inherently interesting, as are people once viewed in the correct light—as hairless, loquacious monkeys. Imagine you’re a Martian scientist and your studying this “brave new world/That has such people in’t!” (The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1). Then the social world seems sort of like a zoo. In this way, it seems much less threatening. At least to me.

Or, you could just pull a Marsha Brady and imagine everyone in their underwear. Whatever works.