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Seattle Freeze
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Is the tech industry to blame for the Seattle Freeze?

The Seattle Freeze: Real or not? (Debs, Flickr Creative Commons)

A recent article from Seattle Times columnist Gene Balk dove deep into the origins of the Seattle Freeze, pointing out that half of all Seattleites were born outside of Washington state. But the real explanation behind the much-debated local phenomenon might go even deeper than that.

“I think I got it — I think I just figured it out,” exclaimed KIRO Nights co-host Gee Scott.

Balk’s data came to a trio of not-so-surprising, but still very intriguing, conclusions: That three of out every 10 Seattle adults were born in Washington, five out of every 10 were born in another state, and two out of 10 were born in another country.

That seems to suggest that the infamous Seattle Freeze could be a product of a city inundated with transplants. Gee takes that theory a step further, pointing out what exactly those transplants are coming to Seattle for in the first place.

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“How long has tech been running Seattle? Microsoft. Boeing. The people that are coming here, they’re focused; they’re engineers. So they’re like, ‘I’m not here to have fun — I got a job to do,” he noted.

Compare that to a city like Portland, with its own share of newcomers but minus Seattle’s tech scene, and you see a stark difference in how transplants can affect the mood of an entire city.

“I have no idea why there’s no tech scene like there is (in Seattle), but people keep moving to Portland,” described MyNorthwest reporter Dyer Oxley. “And even though people move there and it seems like a lot of people are newcomers, there is a sense of like, ‘oh, hey, you’re new? This bar I love, it used to be a speakeasy, it’s great, let’s go.”

“But when I come up to Seattle, it was more of like ‘oh, man, there’s this really awesome bar. Let me give you the address, you take care of it yourself.'”

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All that aside, there’s also one factor to weigh when considering just how present the Seattle Freeze actually is: Confirmation bias.

“Here’s the other side of that coin,” KIRO Nights co-host Aaron Mason pointed out. “I think that there are people if you go to Chicago and you meet an anti-social jerk in Chicago, chances are you’re just going to write that off.”

“But here, if it happens to you in Seattle, you go, ‘Oh Seattle Freeze! I’ve heard about this!’ This is what that is, and it makes it a bigger deal.”

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