Why does everyone suddenly have “crippling social anxiety”

I don't think it's sudden, while there might be some increase in such conditions, I think the culprit of what you are asking is in its normalization. Similarly to LGBT+, people are getting more comfortable to discuss themselves in the open as they see others doing it.

It's just out there in the open and being discussed.

I remember about fifteen years ago I started hearing more and more about terms like social anxiety. There were rising personas that encapsulated anxiety in their work, comics makers, bloggers, video makers and others. If they could talk about it, why couldn't we?

While I have conquered my anxieties to huge extent fifteen years later, back then I was literally ashamed of having them. Not just of myself and my own insecurity, but also feeling inadequate that others didn't have to deal with such things.

The internet helped normalize something that was already there and made it okay.

Has anxiety increased meanwhile? Probably. I think other people raised good arguments about it, but to your question at least in my experience the answer lies into its normalization.

/r/TooAfraidToAsk Thread