His problem, he concluded, was the city. "Seattle is a cold city," he wrote.
In other parts of the country, it was different.
(In other non-Seattle cities) (t)he people's spirits... seem to go out to one another in friendship. They are interested in others interested in doing things together. They feel that a stranger has something to offer in their social life and they give him the opportunity to do so.
Conversly in Seattle, most people live in a house and their spirite of friendship fails to go beyond the boudnary of their own home or intimate circles of friendship. The viewppoint of the average person in Seattle is "My home and friends are the world -- beyond them there is no worth -- beyond Seattle, there is no world."This Seattle is Unfriendly theme (or Seattle Freeze) isn't very rare. You hear it from time to time as people get acclimated to the area. But, it is amazing how far back this complaint goes. DK was a World War II veteran writing to the Seattle Times after settling in Seattle after his service in the Navy Reserve.
While more recent complaints have blamed technology for the phenomena, DK probably didn't have to fight a smartphone to make friends. The overall cause is probably something a bit more ancient, so blame the Nords or the climate.
Either way, you can track the Seattle Freeze consistently through the decades. Rick Anderson wrote in the Times in 1979: "Seattle is no -- NOT -- a friendly city."
Fred Moody, writing in "Seattle and the Demons of Ambition." specifically cites the Seattle Freeze as one of the reasons people moved to Seattle in the 1980s (or, more traditionally, had a hard time fitting in).
The two terms you heard over and over again when newcomers rhapsodized about their new Seattle home was "laid back" and "nice,"the clear implication being that, outside the Northwest, people where "agressive" and "mean."
Again and again I heard transplants describe the same rite of Northwest passage. In talking about how hard it was to make friends when they moved to Seattle, then invariably described an episode in which, after a few akward months here, they were taken aside by a kindhearted, more Seattle-savy acquaintance at work or in their neighborhood, and told that hey had to "tone it down," "dial back," or "turn down the agression" in order to survive socially.
But, this flip side of the Freeze, the non-Seattle Crazy is just as important as the Freeze. Because, if you're insane, maybe it really isn't us. Maybe it's you.
Going all the way back to 1946, a letter in response to DK makes this very case:
I most certainly do not agree with DK when he speaks of Seattle's unfriendly attitude toward outsiders. Since the first day I arrived in Seattle a year ago, I have been treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness.
I would like to know what DK wants. Maybe he needs a few lessons in "correct approach" when he comes to a new city.In fact, published complaints about the Freeze seem to correlate with new people coming in. Take a look at our migration rates for Central Puget Sound (Population Change and Migration, Puget Sound Regional Council), there are three peaks since the Boeing bust: the late 70s, early to mid-90s and post 2005. It might be cherry picking, but Anderson wrote about Seattle being unfriendly in 1979, here's one piece from 1994 and the original Seattle Freeze article from 2005.
The Seattle Freeze might be our social disease, but it's a condition that only seems to appear when we mix with new folks. So, why is that?
Maybe, in fact, we're sane and you're all crazy. In fact, maybe you come here, act all neurotic (a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability; sometimes called emotional instability), and expect us to be able to deal with that.
Here's a study that backs up what my point is (via here).
The darker the color on the map, the more easily the resident of your state experience unpleasant emotions easily. The lighter states, the more relaxed people are.
The same study pointed out that the typical Northwesterner was very open, but also very introverted. So, take that with the "very sane" label, I could see why crazy extroverts from other parts of the country would have trouble here.
So, long story short: we have a regional personality here in Cascadia. It is open, quiet, and sane. It isn't for everyone, but it was what defines us. There's Southern Charm, Northeast brashness and up here we have Cascadian Calm