My recent Seattle Freeze experience…

Seattle Freeze: A phrase that describes a local public consensus that states the city of Seattle and/ or its outlying suburbs are generally not friendly, asexual, introverted, socially aloof, clickish or strictly divided through its social classes, thus making the city/ area difficult to make social connections on all levels.

I was transplanted here six months ago from Texas, and because of this Seattle Freeze I have not had a lot of success at making new friends.

Because I’m a loser and have no social skills, I’ll blame my shortcomings on the Seattle Freeze so I can have something other than me to blame.

It’s not that people here are unfriendly, they will hold the door for you and wave you into traffic and stuff like that, it’s that everything is maddeningly impersonal. The attitude is “have a nice day, somewhere else”. It’s easy to get along but making friends is almost impossible. People will say they want to hang out with you sometime and look at you like a freak when you actually suggest something. People enthusiastically say they are coming to a party then don’t show up. People are flaky and hard to pin down. People are insincere. Norms of social interaction don’t apply here. Most people don’t like or dislike you, they’re totally indifferent. Every interaction will be maddeningly superficial.

Back in Texas, I felt it was a bit easier to build authentic friendships. This rural man is quickly learning that in a city environment you must make the moves to find community. Search on Yelp, add your email to LivingSocial or add yourself to the famous Groupon. In this city, you need to search out for local community groups/organizations with your interest. Seattle is not short on things to do, but it does take a bit more energy on the front end. Look to your cohort or other members of the SDA program to connect you. They know some pretty cool pockets of people around town.

Every. Single. One. of the people I know who re-located here from another state will tell you it’s hard to make friends here. They may not know the term “Seattle Freeze” but they well know the phenomenon. The only people who will deny it grew up here, and even many of them acknowledge it.


One thought on “My recent Seattle Freeze experience…

  1. This very thing has been on my mind lately, and made me wonder about the process of socialization. Most people I know are not originally from the area, but now we have fallen in line the Seattle Freeze mentality. I would say the mentality is more like “not my problem.”

    This mentality also lends credence to the idea that the Northwest is passive aggressive, unwilling to directly confront unpleasant realities. Which makes we wonder how that impacts our identity of progressive politics: because people did not want to be racist, or sexist, or sex negative, and never officially brought it up, has that allowed for progressive politics, women’s rights movements, and the sex positive community to spring up?

    And how does that influence our education at Seattle University? I’ve been thinking about the words we use, and how we communicate in student affairs, and I think we may be becoming victims of socialization into the Seattle Freeze mentality. Admittedly, Student Affairs should be inclusive, but I think we have a tendency to talk in generalities: leadership is good, diversity is good, community is good, but what do these topics mean? Does leadership mean cutting staff members sometimes? When diversity of race cannot be achieved, can we shoot for diversity of class, and diversity of experience? Does is a community simply tolerant, rather than inclusive?

    There is so much behind this point to talk about, thank you for bring it up.

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