Columns Sep 16, 2015 at 4:00 am

I'm New. I'm Nice. Get Used To It.

Steven Weissman


I take it you're new, so you may have not had a chance to read this handy article:

Eight Easy Steps to Help You Break Throu… - Stranger Alumnus Magna Cum Laude Paul Constant
Oh, sorry. That's nice that you're nice! I like nice people. Hang on a second, I'll be right back.
Seriously. Stop. Old news. And like half of the fucking people who live here aren't from here. They haven't been for like 30 years. And what the fuck is mt Si? Is that on the eastside? My husband moved here 17 years ago. He has never complained of this. You know why? Because he smiles at people and he's awesome and people like him. I'd be willing to bet the problem is just that you are quite unlikable.
Oh Hell Naw! We will not be "Nice" to you because it's what you want. Please don't tell us how to live our lives. If we want to get to know you. Then We'll let you know.

Until then, consider yourself on "Standby"
Yea the "freeze" is perpetuated by transplants (which are the majority these days), not locals.. So don't blame it on us! And Mt Si is in North Bend, WTF?
Another one of the "Target/Walmart" generation that beileves you arent living your life unless you have 1000 friends around for their personal entertainment purposes, weekly dinner parties, board-game nights, parties for every holiday and to meet the future boyfriend/husband that you'll take for granted, bitch about incessantly and then either marry and divorce or dump for the next schmuck stupid enough to do you. I've been here 20+ years and have three really good friends I've known the whole time. This is Seattle, not Amazon, some fake FaceBook page or a Macys Holiday commercial. Most long time residents and locals have a select group that took years to build trust. A lot of us just like their solitude by reading a book in a bar or restaurant on a rainy evening and watching all the younger new Amazonians transplants crawl all over their drunk selves like a bad episode of "How I met Your Mother", acting like they have the world in their pockets yet lose their car keys or smartphone within 5 minutes . If you want to make quality friends stop being the obviously pushy and needy whiner you are and learn how to entertain yourself in public without the need of 50 dramas to choose from and participate in, and you'll be surprised how many "quality" people will come to you. In the process you may learn a little something about the world beyond your own needs. Of course, this will mean putting down the "dumbphone" and picking up a book or personal journal and learning you dont need them, they need you.
It's getting harder and harder to bitch about Hipster Transpants since the majority of Seattleites are folks who have been here less than 5 years. But I would like to tell the Amazonians to go fuck themselves - though they probably already are.
@6 You are the first person I've seen use the term "Target/Walmart Genertion." I'm curious about this.
I just laugh at the pseudo intellectuals of Seattle, with their skinny jeans, and poor gluten free, vegan eating habits. You should do what I do: Every time you see one of those poor misguided souls, let out a chuckle, shake your head and walk away. Fuck them ! You are so much better than that. Anybody who makes you jump through hoops is not your fucking friend. For the love of god, go to a therapist and get some self esteem !
This really is a thing, except - I can tell you ACTUAL Seattle seattle natives arent like this. Chances are she is dealing with arseholes originally from Cali.
Fuck this so much. We don't want you, so go away. That's why we don't make nice. Go back to wherever the fuck, and quit making me pissed off about traffic, land use, people in my damn face, and overrun trails. I'm a Washington native, and have lived in Seattle for 37 years. I'm ready to move away because I fucking hate what it's become.
I, too, am a welcoming and friendly born-and-bred Seattlite (even though I wish people would quit moving here in droves). I sincerely think this BS about the freeze needs to quit being perpetuated. But I'm 42. Maybe it's younger people that are douchebags.
I can't decide on what is stupider. People who go to a new place and then immediately demand no one else ever go there like #12, or the myriad of people who claim that every issue with their city is a result of "out of towners."

It is like a singularity of petty, poorly thought out provincialism.
@15 With an attitude like that, I bet you're originally from Shoreline. It's a Seattle thing, you wouldn't understand.
What you need to do is get yourself a geezer. If you're feeling frozen out or passed by or just kind of disinclined about keeping up, get yourself a geezer. They're cheap, readily available (even downtown), sustainable, available in various degrees of geezerness, somewhat portable and when your cohorts and colleagues see that you have one, they'll be clamoring all over themselves to be your bestest friend. Hollywood is catching on. The media will be next. You'll see. All the coolest kids will all have their own geezer. Don't get frozen out!!!
I'm pretty sure the "in crowd/out crowd" thing(which is what this "I, A" is really about, when you get down to it) happens everywhere. It shouldn't, but it does. All of us, wherever we live, need to stop doing this to people who've just come in.

In Seattle(as in the rest of what us white settlers call "North America")it's only the original inhabitants, the folks who've been here for tens of thousands of years, who have any right to have issues with "outsiders"(and yet, weirdly, a lot of them don't, from what I've seen. They're chill with new folks even though they had the whole fucking continent stolen from them. Go figure).
After reading this I'm less convinced this version of the "Seattle freeze" has to do with Seattleites & more convinced you're an annoying whiner that people just don't want to be around--I could barely read to the end of this whine, I can absolutely see myself walking away from your mid-sentence whine
@#6. All I got from your complaining is that you are not from Seattle and have some gripe about Amazon although the IA says nothing about it. You are what is wrong and who the Stranger is pandering to with this contrived 'tech worker' persona they have created. Congratulations, you've been duped.

I originated the dreaded Southern California. I came up for school and never left. I love it up here, and the career opportunities have exceeded my expectations. The Seattle freeze hence no friend’s complaint does not seem real to me. If you have problems with Seattle natives, then make friends with the abundant transplants. Something else is going on, or this is just an urban myth. You need to make adjust to make your new home work for you, or find another one. Tip; many locals are decedents of Vikings, they hate nice.
I split my time between Anchorage, Truckee and Seattle. not much difference between the three exept if you act like a huge dick in Anchorage somone will punch you in the face. Maybe its you, try a little internalization.
FWIW, I moved here 18 months ago (from Texas of all places!) and haven't had any problems making friends. I enjoy the anonymity I have with people I don't know (no need to engage in the mindless chatter song and dance for the sake of "politeness" here), and have developed stronger, more meaningful relationships than I was ever able to establish in Dallas.

Also, if people are walking away mid-sentence, you may want to evaluate whether or not your enthusiasm means you're dominating every social situation. People--or at least I--can't stand that.
I hate to tell anyone to be more like Donald Trump, but it's a thought. Replace the warped world view and hair/fashion sense with your own but embrace brazenness and disregard for those who freeze you out.
Ooh booo hooo...poor you; you represent a major irritation for us-we're all getting pushed out of here so you can stay here for 2 years until you can't handle your job anymore? More than likely, that's not the only reason why you can't make friends you fucking whiny baby. We don't like you, specifically you--we welcome you to leave. LEAVE.
There is a great social anthropology study just lying there waiting to be done. Anyone want to fund a grant to interview all those who see themselves as "victims of the Seattle Freeze"? My daughter once had a date with someone who later portrayed himself as one of those. When she read his letter to the editor moaning about how cold people were to him, she couldn't believe it. He was a self-centered toad. I would love to be involved in such a study as a research associate.
By the tone of letter it sounds as if you don't actually like our culture here. You want friends but friends are people who enjoy each others company and shared interests. Why would anyone in Seattle be friends with you? By the tone of your letter it sounds as if you merely tolerate our gluten free dinner parties, our hikes and love of nature. You don't really love our lifestyle here so I ask again, why would anyone here want to hang with you? It seems to me like you should move somewhere more fitting to your tastes. And, as far as you being nice? That's debatable. I say anyone who demonstrates your level of dissatisfaction with a particular culture and blames the people of said culture for that dissatisfaction is a c**t who needs to take a look at own biases.
"We promise we won't infect your inner circle with boring topics or annoying behavior" YES YOU WILL, you just did . . . please stop being needy all over me!! I'm sorry but it's not me, it's you.
Wow you guys. Seattle Nice is a real thing. Spend some time living on the east coast and you'll see the difference. People make eye contact, seem to be looking to expand their circles -- it's very different here. Not actually complaining, but this isn't fictional. It's real. In fact, they teach it to incoming professors at UW. There is a cultural difference that is very hard to get used to. But not something to judge either. When in Greece...
If you had friends walk away mid-sentence, then your "friends" are DICKS.
But if you're applying THEIR behavior to ALL OF SEATTLE, then perhaps you and your friend are similar enough to actually be friends,... because to apply the dick behavior of ONE PERSON, upon an ENTIRE CITY, is a TRUELY DICK MOVE.
I've only been here a little over a year, and I've had no problem? I have a really solid and fantastic group of friends I made almost immediately after moving here, and it's just been expanding. I mean, I freelance, so I have a lot more control over my free time, but meh? Honestly, I find the ability to find peace, silence, and solitude on a crowded bus an absolute godsend. Being constantly engaged in conversation by strangers in the South was positively draining. Some of these commenters are right, seems you are needy, self-centered, and have no idea what it means to BE a friend.
@30 what the hell are you talking about? I spent the first 20 years of my life in Philly. This is the first I've heard that people out there "make eye contact and are trying to expand their circles." In fact, I have found the exact opposite. The east coast and midwest get much less transplants from outside of their region and people do not branch out at all. I spent 2 years living in Chicago and could not find a single midwesterner that could expand their friend circle away from their Big 10 university frat bro's or their group of high school friends from Indy that moved to the "big city" together. I have had no problems whatsoever meeting friends in Seattle. As long as you are liberal, educated and into the outdoors you will do just fine. Otherwise, why live here in the first place?
You sound like a tedious asshole. Perhaps that's the problem?
I'm 52 and have lived here since 1971. Seattle is not like that. The people that act that way are simply assholes. People that think they should have assholes for friends and are surprised that they don't have what it takes to hang with these creeps have something wrong with them. Like my dad told me when I was a kid "What you need is a new group of losers to hang out with".
The Seattle Freeze rules, and if you can't navigate your way through it, you're probably a blithering, oblivious dillwad. Sorry. Doesn't make you a bad person, just completely incompatible with the withering backbone of Seattle culture. This was formerly a great city for introverts. People like you are changing that. So don't worry, before too long you'll be able to insinuate yourself into any group with the usual requisite vacant smalltalk!
LO sounds like she hates every she has met here. Guess what? They can probably tell.
Seattle freeze should really only apply to natives or people who have been here most of their life. If you're having trouble making friends with transplants in Seattle then you need to look for people with common interests as yourself. If sounds like you're looking for friends in all the wrong places.
I moved to Seattle 2 1/2 years ago and I never once have experienced the Freeze. I suggest you get therapy.
I'm a PNW native and I moved away 15 years ago. Every city has a version of "the freeze" people just have their circle and people don't like change. The only way to make friends as an adult is to be very nice and have your own interesting life, then people will naturally gravitate to you. Also FYI now that I get to experience the PNW as a tourist annually I have come to realize one thing; it's freakin overcrowded and everyone is really grumpy about it. Holy crap calm down everyone.
Dear Anon,
I have lived here for 15 years and it really was hard for me to make friends. It's tough! I'm very gregarious and warm so I was in my feelings for awhile about it, but I kept trudging on. I have found such an amazing group of women to take over the world with and really great groups of friends here!
Please keep smiling, going out, (we are so blessed to have all of the diverse and rad art events, I mean damn, there are multiple things one can do every night of the week!!!)keep engaging. You will find fun and open people, it just takes patience and don't take it personally. :)
Totally my experience. Moved two years ago from CA. Never had such a tough time making friends. Never in my life! (While in CA I moved around quite a bit.) I'm in my late 30s. I'm really feeling the freeze. ....People cancelling at the last moment and not rescheduling, people not writing back, stand-offish moms (I have a Kindergartner)...I can go on... I'm a very friendly, outgoing person, but it's been tough for me here socially and I noticed that I'm also becoming aloof, but with a smile. I'm considering moving back to CA for that reason, even though I love everything else about Seattle. Just my two cents. My personal experience.
If you're lonely you can come visit me. You may find that being by yourself in a lovely place isn't so bad & people will sort of wander into you eventually. That's what happens with me.
At some point in the past Seattle became more about what people thought it was than what it actually was. And then so many new people swamped the city that the long-timers were in the minority. Seattle people are very friendly. The 2 groups of people I know who are most exclusive have a core of people who are from the midwest or the East Coast, all moved here about the same time, found each other, and don't let others in.

They were really fond of telling my wife and I "what Seattle is like," until they heard we were actually originally from here. Now they STFU or ask questions. They still don't have a lot of new people entering their circle though.

Find you some real Seattlites. We're good people, but we're oddly rare in our own city.
If you want people to find you interesting, then you have to do interesting things. Get a hobby, learn how to enjoy creating, building, designing, exercising, bird watching, sailing, something, anything! If all you ever do is bitch about how people don't want to talk to you, no one is going to want to talk to you.

Life is what you make it and if your life is boring it is because you made it boring. If you aren't hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, why the fuck did you move here in the first place? Netflix is available in the shitty little town where you moved from too, you know. You don't have waste your life and raise cats and binge watch Downton Abby in our beautiful city when there are perfectly good, flat, freezing/hot hellscapes among the flyover states to choose from.

Get a hobby and not only will strangers start to find you interesting, but you might actually find yourself interesting too.
Mean people are everywhere. Nice people are, too.
But mostly everywhere you go,
You'll find you are with YOU.

Fuck these Seattle bores, babe, let's you and I hang out.
I've lived here for 20 years now. I've acclimated and integrated into the Seattle culture. I can tell you right now, this is real.

As you can clearly see by the tone and stance of the majority of the posts here, it's in full effect.
Hate using the term "victim blaming" for something as relatively trivial as this, but jesusfuckingchrist you guys. How safe is it to assume that the people Anon are talking about aren't transplants themselves? And how could a seemingly sincere plea for genuine friendships have induced so many superior sneers?

The "Locals Only" shtick doesn't really fit here. If anything it reaffirms a kind of broad-brush hostility aimed at anyone not adhering to a very specific sociocultural sensibility, which as far as I can tell, mostly entails obnoxious post-modern aloofness and a hyper-competitive (market driven) "cool contest" resulting in an alarming impasse. Is exclusivity the only way to be included in this city? Fuuuuck this.
go away.
It'd be so gauche of me to assume that your social life isn't already overflowing with possibilities.

You know, if you want something, you can always ask, we're very responsive to requests.
Sounds like the Midwest is much more your speed that PNW. I hear Chicago likes "nice" people...
I've lived here since 1964, and my parents and grandparents before that, so I'm Localer Than Thou. White people moved a long way to this little logging and fishing village to get away from other people, so it's considered polite to leave people alone and hope they do the same for you. Neighborly, even. You're welcome.

Our attitude regarding new arrivals was baked into the culture the very day Seattle was founded, November 13, 1851. A seasick Arthur Denny and party arrived at Alki beach in the pouring rain, where his brother David had been left to build a cabin. David was sick, had injured his foot with an ax, and hadn't finished the cabin because he'd broken the tool he needed for the roof. As Arthur, his wife Mary, and infant son Rolland slogged ashore to find this miserable scene, David hobbled out to greet them with what, in time, would become the traditional greeting for all newcomers: "I wish you hadn't come." The ghost of Emmett Watson approves this message.
"I've had "friends" stand me up for dinner and coffee, and even walk away mid-sentence."

Um, these people aren't your friends.

Precisely, it's just that when you happen to be in the "in club" you tend to lock out newbs until they prove themselves worthy. And it's certainly not intrinsic to Seattle: anybody who ever moved to a new school and had to deal with the inevitable social ostracism of being the "new kid" is intimately familiar withthis phenomenon.

And to the AP: seriously, just stop trying so goddamed hard. Your obvious need to ingratiate yourself into the nearest available social circle smells of the kind of desperation literally anyone can detect from a mile off. Relax, cultivate an attitude of self-confidence (but not to the point of self-absorption), engage in some interesting hobbies and activites, and you'll have no trouble finding new friends.
@24 stole my comment. As a native Texan ( Dallas ), I was thrilled to be left the fuck alone when I moved here 25 years ago. No more forced chitty chat at the grocery store. No more jesus comments EVERYWHERE. No more bottle blondes and money-mad racist ass-hats. (Well, less anyhow).
When people engage with you here, they really mean it. They are truly interested, not just going through the motions and smiling through their whitened teeth at you while talking shit as soon as you're out of earshot. God I fucking hate Texas.

Let it rain!
Christ, you're all a bunch of assholes. Fuck you and your vegan, gluten-free dinner parties.
How to tell if you're talking to a native Seattleite: Discreetly move closer to them as you talk. If they back away to keep distance between you, they're likely natives (or from one of the Northern Plains states). We like our breathing room, which is one of the reasons we're so put off by the massive influx of newcomers & development.

Be careful though, if you back one of us into a corner, we may react badly. That could be an explanation for people bolting mid-conversation.
I never had a problem with any 'freeze' when I moved here 15+ years ago. But the fact remains that most people are rather boring, and there does tend to be a bit of the northern european tendency to be polite despite lack of interest, perhaps you just can't read the signs very well, it's not uncommon to miss them. Someone bolted mid-conversation? Pretty strong evidence that they either had a full-bladder or you were boring them to tears. Trying being more interesting, nice don't cut it.

Also, what COMTE said @55

Good day.
When I read these sort of "Seattle Freeze" complaints, I always wonder if it's the first time the complainer has moved to a new city since becoming an adult. It's easy to forget how much coasting on years of living in one place, going to school there, and being young, when people have a lot of free time and energy, and are looking to Do Fun Things In Grounds a lot. I've moved to a bunch of places--Austin, Houston, the UK, Mexico, and I don't find people any less friendly up here. In general, adults have established lives and aren't looking for someone new to add to their circle. People end up in adult circles by...being interesting and "earning" their way in. It happens pretty naturally.
I am a fourth generation Seattleite. I can tell you that the people who do not welcome you with open arms are newcomers. In Seattle, we realise that the people who moved here - for whatever reason - are the reason that Seattle has Grown, Nurtured, and become a Destination. The "Seattle residents" you have encountered are pretentious wanna bes you should breeze by now. We love new people, ideas, and friends. Keep looking, find us, we love new friends!

@60: I'm convinced that's it. The Seattle Freeze as a thing has some truth to it as far as people generally keeping to themselves with strangers. Two people in Seattle can sit side by side on the bus and silently agree to do their own thing instead of pretending to want to have a conversation. To some that's rude.

But that's interactions between strangers. I don't believe for a second that people here are more resistant to friendship, or that we have wildly different standards for our "circles". It's that any adult moving to an entirely new place for the first time will realize that they didn't TRY to meet any of their old friends, they met them through circumstance and convenience in school, and that's it's hard to insert yourself into adult's lives.

It's just that when people experience this for the first time in Seattle they have a built in explanation/excuse: the freeze.
Wow, why so much hate for this poor IA?
Dear transplant, I've never noticed this Seattle Freeze thing, but maybe that's because I grew up here. It's true the people here aren't friendly neighbors compared to other places, I've lived for a few years in VT and CO, and the people there come by and introduce themselves and bring you food when you move in! So yeah, you can live next to someone here for decades and not know them at all, unless you have a dog. It's less tiring though, you don't have to take them cookies at Xmas, and NEVER have to listen to gossip about anybody! It's a very good trade-off. 
What you do is figure out what you'd like to do in your free time (assuming you're not working for one of those psychopathic companies that expect you to give up your life to serve them like Amazon &Microsoft), and go do it. You're more likely to make friends with people whom you have common interests with. This area is big in volunteering. Go volunteer, plant a tree, yank out some English Ivy, tutor at the public libraries. Join a book club, a meetup group (there are LOTS of these, choose wisely). Take a fun class at community college or parks and rec center - like jewelry making, swing dancing, totem carving, martial arts, canoeing, sailing, pottery etc., there are lots of classes for all interests.
And desert boots? What are those, don't they melt in the rain? Floppy hats? Who wear these? We don't have garden parties here. Mt Si? North Bend is the burb, LW, and a very conservative burb full of people who keeps the OBEY part in the bride's marriage vows! Stay away from those creepers unless you're a Duggar slave, i.e. woman. 
True and supportive friends can be hard to find, that's why people cling to their college pals. Make yourself your best friend, enjoy your own company with whatever you do. People are very attracted to that, they'll flock around. You don't need a gaggle of friends, no one has time and patience for that many people after college. Travelling in a pack gets really old after a while, trust me. And you can do different activities with different friends, don't look for people to fulfill all your social needs, they don't exist, unless you clone yourself.
@ 60,

I was just about to add that same comment. I moved here after undergrad for a job 15+ years ago, and I've found that most people's social circles seem to be formed and closed by then. The people with the most friends went to undergrad here, and by the time you're an adult, it's easy to become overwhelmed by work and family obligations. I wouldn't say it's a freeze as much as the fact that it's much harder to make friends as an adult than in college. I went to grad school here, but by then many people are working and/or have kids, so socializing can be challenging. Keep up the hobbies and keep meeting people. It's like dating; you have to keep at it until you find people with whom you click.
Wah wah wah.

As a seattleite, I just want to get my coffee, go to work and get my sh*t done so I can get out and climb mount Si (among other things). Why do I have to make friends with you?

But feel free to come climb Mount Si with me anytime.
This "freeze" concept, whether real or not, is something perpetuated by the article magazines that have to come up with something to fill pages with when they introduce a new readership to the Real Seattle every few months.
I've been here 6 years and have made some of the best friends of my life. I had a few false starts trying to force friendships with people I had very little in common with, but once I got hooked into a community of folks with my same interests, things turned around really quickly.
Go find @41 and her bunch of "amazing" women who want to take over the world, and you'll have things to do at least 5 nights a week. Until you realize that you'd like a little peace and quiet and get a cat who'll have at least as much brain power as that bunch.

Oh man, someone a ways back mentioned the "feigning interest" thing. I'm a 4th generation local, and I have to admit I do that expertly and reflexively (I was taught that it was good manners?). Anyway, recently I've noticed that this is interpreted as an opening to "let's go out for drinks" or whatever - which I have no intention of doing or ever responding to. This, then, leads to the person eventually becoming very frustrated and nasty...which is something I used to not have to deal with (I think locals know the dealio with that).
I have always had a personal theory that the no need for small talk and sort of keeping to ourselves is from years of walking around with our heads ducked down against the cold drizzle coming at us. You know how it used to never really rain hard just drizzle for months at a time? Climate change has changed that a bit, so it rains harder and wetter now. But check us out on the first sunny day of spring! Its a whole new world then. But I still say IA is just someone people don't like.
Do you mean "brusque?" A "brisk" friend just walks quickly.
The thing that I still don't get about Seattle despite having lived here for almost half my life is how many people think absolutely nothing about inviting themselves over for cocktails or dinner and then cancelling at the last minute or even worse, not even bothering to return my text when I write them one day after we made the fucking date to confirm that they're still coming.

Like, what the hell do you think I'm going to do now with my five kinds of $10 cheese, stick of gourmet sausage, four weird ass brands of crackers, super long loaf of bread that stays soft for one day, and three bottles of extra fancy guest booze? I can deal with the awkward shyness, but that thoughtless flakiness is infuriating, and I can't say that was an issue I found on the east coast.
"Like, what the hell do you think I'm going to do now with my five kinds of $10 cheese, stick of gourmet sausage, four weird ass brands of crackers, super long loaf of bread that stays soft for one day, and three bottles of extra fancy guest booze?"

Uh...have the best lunch of your life next day?

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