LOCAL NEWS

Seattle freeze debate: Data implies locals aren’t too friendly

May 29, 2019, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:50 am

Seattleites have debated the validity of the Seattle freeze for years. Some say it’s a myth, while others insist that locals aren’t too friendly or interested in socializing.

Historian Feliks Banel argues for the latter.

“I remember in 1998 … I met a woman who had moved up here from Portland and she decribed the Seattle freeze to me, but not in those words,” Banel recalls.

The woman explained to Banel that people would tell her, for example, about a really cool bar, where the drinks were cheap, that had unique atmosphere.

“Then they would say, ‘Here, I’ll give you the address,'” Banel laughed. “In other places, people would want to take you and show you things themselves. In Seattle, they just want to give you the address.”

Seattle freeze data

While many debate if the Seattle freeze is actually a real phenomenon, it now appears there is data to back it up.

The Seattle Times reports that about 40 percent of Washington and Oregon residents say that making new friends is not a priority. The numbers come from a survey conducted by Northwest insurance company Pemco. According to Derek Wing, a Pemco spokesperson:

Some might say that Seattle is a lonely city, and while there might be some truth to that, there is also hope that this reputation will soon change. The up-and-coming crowd wants to connect on a personal level, and newcomers are going out of their way to make that happen – it’s just one of the many ways the Northwest is constantly changing. It is encouraging to see that the ice may be melting.

Indeed, the Times broke down the numbers a bit further to show that not all demographics are so cold — but, mostly, they are. Men under the age of 35 in Washington are more likely to say that making new friends is extremely important, especially if they have children.

In general:

  • About 12 percent of Washingtonians say that making new friends is “extremely important.”
  • About 8 percent say making new friends is “not at all important,” while 30 percent say it’s “not too important.”
  • A total of 39 percent of people under the age of 35 say its either “extremely” or “very” important to make new friends, but only 21 percent of people above the age of 35 share that perspective.
  • People with children, they really want friends. A total of 41 percent said that it was “extremely” or “very” important, while only 15 percent of people without children said the same.

See the full survey results at The Times.

Wing further told the Times that Seattleites are more interested in JOMO (joy of missing out) than the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out).

Seattle freeze history

As Banel explains, the Seattle freeze is an attitude woven into the region’s history — even if people weren’t calling it that until more recently.

“The phrase ‘Seattle freeze’ doesn’t appear in The Seattle Times until 2005 … I remember knowing what the Seattle freeze was 20 or 30 years ago, but not hearing it called the Seattle freeze.”

Banel says the concept goes back to the early days of European settlement in the region. Unwelcoming locals is a trend that has persisted with the many waves of newcomers ever since.

“Of course, Natives were here for thousands of years so they were probably the original Seattle freeze, because they didn’t want pioneers coming here by the thousands with their diseases and taking all the land,” Banel said.

“Seattle has always been desirable, we had two very successful world’s fairs here,” he said. “People came here by the thousands and tens of thousands during World War II, we have Boeing of course, and a lot of those people stayed.”

After WWII the population continued to grow with that era’s baby boom. Banel says that around that time, a group called “Greater Seattle Incorporated” started up (it would eventually create Seafair), hyping the city. In response to that, a counter group called “Lesser Seattle Unincorporated” was formed to downplay the growth and newcomer sentiment of the day.

In the ’80s and ’90s, there was a bit of an anti-Californian attitude that sprung up. That was quite evident in a variety of classic Almost Live sketches, such as this one called “The Last Northwesterner,” where a man flees a mob of Californians demanding that he sell them his house.

Perhaps today it could be felt in the latest wave of tech transplants driving up the cost of living.

“Seattle’s strength, in my mind, is how it completely reinvents itself every five or 10 years; every generation or so,” Banel said. “….We’re living with the result of that now in how dense Seattle is and how the population is growing. It’s almost like there are so many people who are new arrivals now, you couldn’t develop a Lesser Seattle movement because it would just be a bunch of hypocrites.”

Local News

west seattle bridge...
Dalton Day

Concrete strike’s impact on West Seattle Bridge timeline unclear as SDOT makes final pours

SDOT still hopes to open the West Seattle Bridge in “mid-2022." A to-be-announced, updated timeline will be delivered on June 9.
18 hours ago
King County interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall...
MyNorthwest Staff

King County confirms Patti Cole-Tindall as new Sheriff

The King County Council voted unanimously to confirm Patti Cole-Tindall as the new King County Sheriff on Tuesday.
18 hours ago
burke-gilman...
Dalton Day

Seattle loses battle over Burke-Gilman Trail’s ‘missing link’ as project funds sunset

A spate of legal challenges over the 1.4-mile stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail's missing link jeopardizes its completion.
18 hours ago
A look at the crash scene.  Concern that one of the drivers went off the bridge.  Search is underwa...
MyNorthwest Staff

22-year-old victim identified in fatal Ship Canal Bridge collision

The deadly crash on southbound I-5 in Seattle's University District this morning killed 22-year-old Jordan Shelley of Seattle.
18 hours ago
monkeypox...
MyNorthwest Staff

Instance of monkeypox investigated in King County amid ‘growing international outbreak’

A presumptive case of monkeypox is being investigated in King County, according to Public Health, Seattle and King County.
2 days ago
amazon...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

As pandemic-fueled surge in online shopping slows, Amazon subleases warehouse space

Amazon is planning to sublease some of its warehouse space now that the pandemic-fueled surge in online shopping has eased.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Seattle freeze debate: Data implies locals aren’t too friendly