As a big fan of Spike Jonze‘s previous films, I was anticipating Her before its release in 2013, and I really enjoyed it when I first saw it in the theater. But upon rewatching Her, I realize it’s even better than I initially thought. The premise may sound preposterous and overly comedic: in the near future, a man falls in love with the operating system on his phone. However, while the film is funny at times, both it and the science behind “Samantha” are quite serious. Her is not some broad comedy about falling in love with “Siri.” It’s actually quite scientifically accurate as far as artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential. Something similar to this could actually happen. The film explores the future of AI technology and how it will affect humanity, particularly in the areas of loneliness and social anxiety. Continue reading →
Lars and the Real Girl is a quirky indie dramedy about a shy lonely psychologically-troubled young man who buys a sex doll over the internet and starts a (non-sexual) relationship with her, believing she is real. Continue reading →
I used to think of my shyness and social anxiety as a disorder—something wrong with me. As if I got unlucky and inherited a genetic defect. Then, I heard that social anxiety is not something you’re born with—it’s developed. Which didn’t make sense either because I’ve been shy and socially anxious my entire life. It wasn’t until I learned about evolutionary psychology that everything started to make sense. I was born with the tendency to be shy around strangers and worry about what other people think of me, but that wasn’t a genetic mistake. Shyness and social anxiety were actually an evolutionary advantage. Continue reading →
Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows on television. It’s like a modern version of The Twilight Zone, an anthology series exploring the ramifications of technology on life in the present and near-future. “White Christmas,” the seventh overall episode of Black Mirror, touches on some ways in which technology might help people with social anxiety in the future. Continue reading →
In honor of Star Wars Day 2017, let’s continue the saga of the Force versus the Dark Side. We found a new hope in Episode IV, the Empire struck back in Episode V, the Jedi returned in Episode VI, and a Phantom Menace rose in Episode I. Now we visit episode two of the prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones. It is admittedly not a great film, although it does contain one of my favorite action scenes in the entire Star Wars series: the flying car chase through the Coruscant cityscape at night. It also contains some wise insights into the Force (mindfulness) and the Dark Side (social anxiety).
Napoleon Dynamite is the type of movie you either love or hate. Except in my case, I both love and hate it. At first, I wasn’t sure why. I enjoy quirky independent comedies, and Napoleon Dynamite features socially awkward characters (like me), so it should have been right up my alley. But I didn’t love the film wholeheartedly like so many other fans. There were certainly parts of the movie I found funny, but other parts rubbed me the wrong way. After re-watching the movie recently and thinking about it further, I realized part of the reason I “hate” Napoleon Dynamite might be the way it portrays social anxiety. Continue reading →
The late great horror writer H.P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” He may not have been referring to social anxiety, but he could have been. Continue reading →