I recently started a job in a new office, where it seems like anytime a casual conversation is initiated its typically in negative context about another employee on a personal level.
This started from Day 1 - 2 of my desk neighbors constantly rag on employee X about things completely unrelated to work, on a personal level. My first week, I was taken to lunch by the managers, and again a popular topic of conversation was how weird/creepy employees / ex-employees were, which was surprising coming from people in leadership positions.
Employee X is admittedly a bit odd, but as a person who is also more than a bit odd this is making me extremely anxious and self cautious.
I had a few similar experiences at a previous job, being the target of ill-intention, hurtful pranks, where HR departments have gotten involved - in these situations immaturity was definitely a primary culprit, as these people were entry/intern level in their early 20s, at a "start-up, carefree, do whatever you want" culture. In my current situation however I'm the youngest person on the team, and among the 3 youngest developers in a group of ~30 developers with a lot of seniority.
Am I being overly sensitive in general toward this? My experience with social groups at large is that they always contain a few people like this, and that perhaps this is just part of the general work experience.
I'm sure not every person here is like this and this is likely the case of "a few bad apples", but at the same time I hate feeling like I have to clam up and be uncomfortable just to avoid being a target of gossip especially this early in the experience. I also fear the tension created by bringing it up to a manager that has already expressed similar behavior about other people.