I don’t work at a start-up, but I’m absolutely stunned at the juvenile and emotionally brittle responses you received to not imbibing. It’s as if any act of non-conformity with the group is such an act of invalidation that it incenses people or turns them into peer-pressuring frat boys. I’ve been clued in for years that the tech and start-up culture is really a reflection of a manchild mentality and your piece only underscores the conclusions I’d already been reaching.
My father is an alcoholic, so I never have taken a drink in my life (I’m 51) because I fear that I’m just as inclined as he is toward self-medication. It’s easier for me to just never risk it. If I were faced with what you faced, I’m not sure my reaction would have been as composed as yours and it definitely wouldn’t have been as inner-directed and embarrassed. I have been challenged before about not drinking, and I simply say that it holds no interest for me and I don’t like the smell so I’m sure I wouldn’t like the taste, too. Those reasons are the truth, and, beyond that, it’s nobody’s business.