‘Seattle Freeze’ is now an accepted fact around Seattle

Wikipedia entry

Wikipedia entry for Seattle Freeze

It was a year after becoming New To Seattle in 2011 that I started writing in this space about the Seattle Freeze. That’s the notion Seattleites aren’t all that friendly to newcomers. I certainly found that to be true, as did the vast majority of other relatively recent immigrants I chatted up on the topic as I bopped around town, often refereeing youth soccer matches. However, despite Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary entries on the subject, and a 70-year-old printed suggestion that I found, folks who have been here awhile tended to disagree with me, sometimes forcefully.

But I think local mainstream public opinion has finally come around to my way of thinking.

The latest example appeared Wednesday at the top of the front page of The Seattle Times. A story by Gene Balk, the paper’s long-time librarian and statistics guru (as well as a fellow New Jersey native and Rutgers grad), reported on the large number of Seattle apartments with only one occupant. The very first sentence called the city “home of the notorious ‘Seattle Freeze’ “.

Think about that. Existence of the Seattle Freeze stated as a fact in the city’s newspaper of record! Just like the sun rises in the east or it rains a lot in Seattle.

Now, Balk wasn’t the first journalist with long Seattle ties to write recently something as definitive on this issue. In 2012 on the local news site Crosscut.com, Seattle native and columnist Knute Berger wrote an essay entitled “Simple rules for staying sane in Seattle” that included this:

Avoid your neighbors.

The Seattle Freeze is our famous social disease. Inoculate yourself. Don’t try to make friends, better to embrace the solitude, the peace, the occasional remote wave to the unfamiliar figure next door as you both place your recycling curbside. You didn’t move here for people, did you? Most everyone else moved here to get away from them. Socially, Seattleites will mostly disappoint. They’re just not that into you. If you must reach out, use Skype or Facebook. That way, people come with an off-switch.

Last year, barely two months after leaving the editorship of The Seattle Times to take an academic job in Philadelphia, David Boardman, unloading on Philly.com, contrasted the City of Brotherly Love with his experience in the Emerald City:

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

From Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.” By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth. In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you get a smile, a ‘How you doin’ today?’ and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floor. There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it. ….

Thank goodness I’m writing about this chilly topic a day before summer begins.

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In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

from Day One of our new residency in the city, we noticed something very different here. Seattle, rooted in the reserved cultures of Scandinavia and Asia, was certainly polite. But with that historical foundation and the addition of thousands of too-cool techie/hipsters, it was not particularly warm. In fact, newcomers there refer to the chilly reception they often receive as the “Seattle Freeze.”

By contrast, Philly, with its population potpourri, produces plenty of heat, to be sure, but also a surprising bounty of warmth.

In Seattle, when you get into an elevator with someone else, there is usually no greeting, no eye contact, and your fellow passenger will inch as far away from you as she can. Here, you’ll get a smile, a “How you doin’ today?” and you will learn the names and ages of her kids between the first and seventh floors.

There, if you’re lost downtown, you’ll have to seek out help. Here, a stranger is likely to approach you to ask if you need it.
Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20131006121652/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131006_Philadelphia__home_of_the_friendly.html#a56xHrOXVmZCCmf3.99

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‘Seattle Freeze’ is now an accepted fact around Seattle — 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Seattle predictions for 2016 (sort of) | New To Seattle

  2. I’ve lived in D.C. and Orange county, California, both of which are supposed to be difficult places in which to make friends. However, I made a lot of life-long friends in both places, after only a few months of living there. The people are very sophisticated in both places. The medical care in both places is quite good.

    I’ve lived and worked in Seattle for the better part of a year, now. I have to laugh at how ridiculous the people are. Apparently, being a “multi-generational” Seattleite is the most esteemed position on earth. Working here in tech was an awful experience. People at work wouldn’t even acknowledge me or say “hello.” They complained about everything, even an M&M lying on the floor. Obesity in the women was rampant, and, as a thin woman, I was on the outs with them. (None of my friends has ever been obese.)

    I have a minor medical problem that is easily fixed. The doctors here have known about it for months, but no one has actually stepped up to the plate to get it fixed. This last problem could be a result of Obamacare, which Seattle has embraced.

    I would recommend against moving here, unless you have to. The people are flakes, quite unprofessional, and completely lacking in sophistication. They also don’t want anyone to move here; they are quite vocal about it. I got ragged on at work about the fact that I’m from out-of-state. People actually told me they wanted me to go “back to where I came from.” Well, fine. I’ll leave. And I will do you an extra favor by advising against moving here.

  3. Pingback: Buses have gone to the dogs in Seattle - New To Seattle

  4. So funny to read about the Seattle Freeze. And yes, I’ve heard people talk about it, too. But our experience is very different. My husband and I moved here in 1980 (had just gotten married) when my husband accepted a job with Boeing. We only knew each other. We both quickly met friends at our different places of work. We joined a softball team at Boeing and our teammates became our friends also. When we bought a house we grew a new set of friends in our neighborhood. I know there was some reaching out on our part but it didn’t seem that difficult. When we first moved here we thought it’d be a two-year adventure before we settled down and had kids back where we’d come from. Instead, we fell in love with the area and it is our home. Part of that is because of the many deep friendships we’ve formed here.

  5. I think the Seattle Freeze also applies to the job market and those of us “mature workers” looking for a job. That’s certainly been my overall experience.

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