What do lunches look like at your office? Everyone goes out and does their own thing? Do people sit at their desks and eat while they answer emails? Is everyone one big happy family that gets to just grab a table for 25 every afternoon and make an outing of it?
A TikTok user by the name of Mitej has created a debate on the platform over whether people who invite others out to lunch in the workplace should invite the rest of their coworkers as well to avoid making others feel left out.
Mitej’s viral video asks people to avoid excluding people when doing a work lunch outing while he sat eating his own lunch in his car and looking rather unhappy, heavily implying that this is a personal thing for him.
“Always invite ALL your coworkers to Lunch, don’t leave anyone out please,” the overlay text reads.
There isn’t any context given for the video, so it’s hard to say whether his request is reasonable or not. He did comment that if he gained over 1,000 followers, he would post a follow-up video telling the story. He has reached this goal, but the explainer video hasn’t been posted yet.
Many commenters offered sympathy and kindness to Mitej, saying they know how he feels and that “work cliques” that you’re excluded from can cause a lot of pain. Others spoke on workplace bullying, which is a surprisingly common problem. In a 2021 survey, the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 30 percent of workers had experienced a “direct” form of bullying in their workplace, with 13 percent saying they were suffering from the issue at the time they were asked.
“Work cliques can hurt so bad,” said one commenter. “Sending hugs.”
“YES I’m so sorry!” wrote another. “That’s adult bullying tbh.”
Others, however, rejected the idea that they should have to invite everyone out to lunch any time they want to go with someone, feeling that they shouldn’t have to bring along a crowd or people they don’t like. Some also said that they would prefer not to be invited out to lunch by coworkers every time or at all, preferring to eat alone.
“You should only want to be around people who want to be around you,” one TikTok user said. “No one’s obligated to like you, a tough lesson that needs to be learned early on.”
“PLEASE leave me out. I know I lied and said I was an extrovert to get my customer service job but I am not!” another begged. “I love any chance at alone time.”
This seems likely to be one of those debates that results from people having different experiences and imagining different scenarios based on the limited amount of information given. For example, if you work in a large office with many coworkers, the idea of inviting all of them to lunch when you really just want to go out with a single work friend sounds utterly absurd.
However, there’s a good chance that Mitej wasn’t inspired to make this video just because Sandra from IT didn’t walk down to the accounting department and invite him out to lunch when they don’t know each other. He might work in a small office and this was a case in which there was a general work lunch outing involving many coworkers, but for some reason, he was excluded.
This kind of thing does happen, and not infrequently. While there might not be any ill intent when excluding a single coworker, the result is often feelings of alienation and self-consciousness in the person who was left out. While no one should be required to invite everyone out to lunch, the intent of the video seems to be to ask people to exercise kindness and consideration toward the people who are in their lives, even if only as coworkers.
We can’t know the whole story until Mitej posts an update, but we can hope he’s feeling better and that his coworkers treat him nicely from now on.