I was just having a conversation with someone I've known for a few years. Like me, he has absolutely no interest in group gatherings. He's been having a lot of difficulty at work because of this.

When I say he has no interest in group gatherings, I don't mean he is anti-social. To the contrary, he is a very likeable fellow and generally likes other people. What I mean is that he has a very low tolerance for sitting around talking about what he experiences as absolute nonsense. And his tolerance has been further reduced by having had a nearly fatal heart attack recently that made him realize that none of us know just how long we are going to live. He's not depressed by that, but he is noticing that he has become much more discriminating about what he does - everything from the kind of food he eats, to the clothes he buys, the movies he watches, the music he listens to and...the people he wants to spend time with.

The problem is that he is working for a very large company. And where you have several hundred people gathered, a day seldom goes by when someone is not having a birthday, a baby, getting married, being promoted and so forth. His boss will say, "All right, we are all going out for lunch".

This announcement fills my friend with dread because to him it translates as "All right, we are all going to waste an hour and a half. We are going to talk about all kinds of things you are not remotely interested in. At the end of it, you will pay for the privilege. Oh, and by the way, you don't have a choice because if you object I will can your ass."

That's social harassment.

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