Post # 1
I consider myself a pretty outgoing and socially apt person yet will do just about anything to avoid a potentially awkward AF situation.
I was brought up in an environment where social graces were hammered into me like asking people how they’re doing, engaging them in conversation, and taking a genuine interest in their lives (all within personal comfort levels, of course, which is another social skill of knowing how to read a room).
Based on this, I can’t help but feel like interpersonal interaction in general has really declined, especially with the omnipresent smartphone factor. I physically squirm in situations that consist of painfully disjointed conversation or awkward silences or where it feels like the burden of holding an even basic conversation falls solely on me, which can be mentally exhausting.
I get that some people are naturally introverted or are simply perfectly content to sit in silence and stare at their phones while enjoying just the physical presence of other people. But to me, that’s not much different than being alone, and I feel like I might as well just be alone then. I realize it’s a totally different story once you achieve a certain level of comfort with your friends and loved ones.
What I’m mostly referring to are group settings or work functions where at least some level of interaction is expected. For example, the last work lunch I went to was with a team that has known each other for years, and I was the incoming contractor. Within minutes of sitting down, everyone was on their phones and not speaking at all. I was just looking around the table in somewhat amused bewilderment like who’s going to say something first? Finally, someone made a comment about the weather, then it went right back to painful silence for basically the remainder of the lunch. I was DYING.
So now I go to lengths I’m not exactly proud of to avoid these lunches (which occur on a weekly basis) because I don’t really see a point, not to mention they make me uncomfortable as hell. It’s not like we’re bonding as a team, and it’s time and money that I could be spending doing other things. They keep inviting me, and I’ve faked everything from being in the middle of something to having other plans to even walking the back way out the building just to avoid runing into them on their way out. Then it occurred to me…could I be acting in way that demonstrates a form of social anxiety? Other people seem to be totally fine with this type of dynamic, so maybe it’s just me and my unrealistic expectations?
Post # 2
I don’t think that’s social anxiety. If anything it’s anti-social anxiety! I wouldn’t want to go to lunch with people that ignore me either.
Post # 3
Hmm, I’m not sure if I’d call it social anxiety but maybe. The situation you described sounds boring as hell so I’d try to avoid it too. But when I find myself in situations like that, I don’t really feel anxious…more indifferent? If I start to feel anxious about keeping the conversation flowing, I remind myself that if no one else is making any effort to contribute to the convo, I shouldn’t feel any burden to do so either. That kinda frees me of the anxiety feeling.
Post # 4
Haha anti-social anxiety! Perfectly said. I’ll go with that 😉
Post # 5
The same thing happened to me at a work lunch not long ago, and I was so taken aback I ended up leaving earlier than I probably would have, as we had some time left on break.
I do think there has been a major shift in how people interact with each other. If I could create a “no phone” rule for social occasions, I would. When I’m around even my friends or my SO, I never pull out my phone unless there is a specific reason to do so. At a networking or other social function? My phone might come out to show someone a photo, but that’s still unlikely. Face to face interaction is crazy important.
I don’t think that what you have is exactly social anxiety, but more that you’re uncomfortable with how things have changed. You’ll have to adjust accordingly, because I think people will have their smartphones attached to their eye sockets before long. :-/
Post # 6
Since its a social situation and its making you anxious, I would call it social anxiety. It doesn’t sound like a very fun enviornment to be in, and I would probably want to avoid those lunches once in a while too, but if you’re doing it all the time it might not be good for your job. I would just suck it up and try to attend occasionally.
Post # 8
Yeah, a part of me worries they’ll start to see me
as anti-social even though those lunches are insufferable for me! Luckily, I’m only in the office a couple times a week.
Post # 9
download a good book to your phone and read it during the next lunch, thereby achieving something while playing the social game for business purposes.
Post # 10
That goes against just about everything that’s ever been instilled in me, but if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em I guess!
Post # 11
In the situation you described it’s probably because they’re very comfortable around each other (so were comfortable being quiet around each other) whereas you were the new comer. It’s definitley uncomfortable to sit quietly at lunch with people you don’t know that well, it’s just that you were the only one that didn’t know people, so were the only one feeling awkard about it. That would make anyone uncomfortable I think!
Post # 12
I think they were being very rude based on the behavior you describe. They should have welcomed you and made a point to inquire how you were adjusting.
I would also avoid going to their lunches. If there’s no legitimate social interaction, I’d prefer to just do my own thing on my own time. It’s not anxiety on your part, it’s trying to avoid rude people.
I absolutely think social graces have declined due to phones and other electronics. It starts young, too. I have seen so many children in restaurants and other public areas glued to their screens. They’re not learning how to interact normally because they’re just not interacting.
Post # 13
I think I would go so far as to say “is this a working lunch only then? ‘ Because if so , I’ll just go through my emails etc. Otherwise, I’d love for us to put our phones way and talk to each other”
But I’m also almost certainly older than you and I don’t care so much now if people are shocked.
Post # 14
It’s not social anxiety, I’m way too aware of the DSM criteria as I have a debilitating form of it and I’ve had it to some degree my whole life. I don’t have any actual advice though other than to just avoid the lunches if it bugs you. I don’t really see the point of a group getting together to have lunch if they’re not actually going to speak though, that’s weird.
Post # 15
Did you go only once? Try going once more and see what happens; if they say “oh hey, how come you don’t come out with us anymore?” Just tell them the truth. I would say that this is what happened the last time and it was not an enjoyable nor productive experience. Everyone will step up if you say something.