Of all the online forums available to discuss the ecstasy and the agony that is Seattle, for sheer entertainment value it’s hard to top the local boards on the website Reddit. Especially interesting are the questions–and answers–propounded, threads often started by folks getting ready to relocate to the Emerald City.
One such recent query on the subreddit page Seattle–“What’s a good area/apartment building that doesn’t have a lot of kids around?”–prompted more than 100 comments and even a Seattle Times story listing neighborhoods with the highest and lowest percentage of populations under age 18. The query itself struck me as amusingly naive, since Seattle already has the nation’s second lowest percentage of kids among major cities (No. 1 is San Francisco). This means all the neighborhoods relatively are kid-free.
Responders to the post went all over the place, suggesting neighborhoods to seek or avoid, often accompanied by snarky social commentary (“Children aren’t illegal per se in Seattle, but having them is generally discouraged …”). However, not a few thought the unnamed couple asking for information were simply poor human beings. This in turn prompted the pair to add this a few days ago to their original query:
Thanks for the input. Was kind of surprised to see the Seattle Times thing, but not really surprised to see in the comments for that article (and somewhat in this post) that we are apparently considered weirdos for not wanting to be around kids (and not wanting to have kids at all for that matter; I didn’t explicitly state that but some of you put 2 and 2 together). It’s disappointing that this attitude seems to persist, even in a seemingly progressive place like Seattle. We don’t go around chastising people for having children, so it would be nice if people afforded us the same courtesy. It’s odd to us that we’re considered snobs and that not having children is an unfathomable life choice in some people’s minds.
Snobs! Another derivative of the S word rears its ugly head again in Seattle!
It was just two weeks ago that the website of Travel+Leisure branded Seattle as the nation’s fifth most snobbiest major metropolitan area. My take on this as someone New To Seattle: Seattleites aren’t snobby but just reclusive due to a collective inferiority complex also known as the Seattle Freeze. A link to my essay posted on LinkedIn prompted a long string of comments commendably long on substance and short on personal invective.
I’d say a majority of the commenters agreed with me that Seattleites aren’t the warmest bunch but that the character flaw of snobbery isn’t the reason. However, there was a fair split of opinion.
“If you didn’t grow up on Seattle they look at you like you are from Mars and the turn their backs,” wrote an event manager. “The Seattle freeze was something I thought couldn’t be true until I experienced it time and time again.
But declared a life care planner, “I grew up on the East Coast but find people here to less defensive, less aggressive, and quite friendly and normal.”
Now, the couple on Reddit was complaining–rightly, in my judgment–about the abuse endured for asking a reasonable question about the best place to enjoy a particular and lawful lifestyle. To me the ridicule didn’t smack of snobbery, but rather political correctness. From what I have seen, there isn’t much of a marketplace of political ideas in Seattle. In the long run that may prove to be a far bigger problem than a lack of kids, or unclued-in newcomers.