KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Gee & Ursula: The never-ending debate about if the ‘Seattle Freeze’ is real

Dec 29, 2023, 2:40 PM

Seattle pedestrians...

People use a crosswalk in front of the new Kraken store in downtown Seattle. (Photo: Bill Kaczaraba/MyNorthwest.com)

(Photo: Bill Kaczaraba/MyNorthwest.com)

It started out as a discussion about the demographics of Seattle and where people are from. There was talk about how more people who live here weren’t born here than those who were.

It devolved into the old ‘Seattle Freeze’ discussion and the idea that we are famous for giving people the cold shoulder.

“The Seattle Freeze is not real,” fill-in co-host Andrew “Chef” Lanier said on The Gee & Ursula Show. “Look, I’ve heard for years from people saying I can’t get anyone to hang out with me in Seattle when I moved to Seattle. People were so unwelcoming.”

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Chef asked if 65% of people in the city are from out of state, who’s to blame for the issue of you not being able to form friendships?

Gee Scott, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show, had a quick response.

“Let me explain that the Seattle Freeze is real,” Gee said. “And there is a passive-aggressive thing in this area. So don’t tell me that ‘Oh, people from other places brought that passive-aggressive culture here.’ No, it is still ingrained here.”

Gee said there are certain areas in Washington where over 50% of people are from here.

“They are the ones who established a culture here,” Gee said. “They are the ones that have the money here. They are the ones (who) have the politicians and their kids become the politicians. Those are the folks that run this place. And those who set the rules set, establish the culture.”

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Lanier said he wasn’t buying it.

“I never hear from people who moved into a $5 million home in Broadmoor and have trouble meeting people,” Lanier said. “I don’t hear that. I hear it from young people all the time who say I moved to Capitol Hill, I moved to Eastlake, I moved to South Lake Union. There’s no social scene. People here are so closed off.”

Lanier explained that you don’t get off an airplane and have Pacific Northwest weather seep into your system and all of a sudden change your societal attitudes and culture.

“Like it’s the Seattle weather that somehow restricts your ability to socialize?” Lanier asked.

Gee read from the listener text line.

“He says real Washingtonians are like you Chef: Grumpy, whining, frowning and hate everything,” Gee said.

Chef explained that although the listener may be correct, “I’d like to point out that I am in the minority. And when the majority blames the minority for all of their problems, I kind of react to that.”

Chef added that he might buy it if it was called the Puget Sound Freeze, but not the Seattle Freeze because most of the people come from somewhere else.

Don’t get them started on when locals don’t say hello when they pass by.

Coverage of the Seattle Freeze

The debate of the Pacific Northwest social and cultural phenomenon has been discussed for more than a century and covered by local media outlets with the “Seattle Freeze” name for almost 20 years, Seattle Met noted in an item published this year.  Specifically, that publication called out Julia Sommerfeld’s 2005 piece in Pacific Northwest Magazine in The Seattle Times.

Seattle Met tackled the subject in 2017 as well.

Also this year, The Seattle Times published articles titled, “Melting the Freeze: A guide to making friends, from Seattleites,” “Have you melted the Seattle Freeze? We’d like to hear how you did it” and “‘The Seattle Freeze is thawing’ In 2023, Seattle singles want love.”

A 2019 article from The Times titled, “‘Seattle Freeze’ Forget making friends — half of Washington residents don’t even want to talk to you” ranks high in a “Seattle Freeze” Google search as well.

Other coverage of the Seattle Freeze in recent years has been seen in national travel guidebook and news website Fodor’s Travel (2021), The University of Washington’s student newspaper, The Daily (2022), KING 5 (2019), Thrillist (2018) and NPR outlet KUOW (2014).

And if you want to read more about the Seattle Freeze, it even has its own Wikipedia page.

Contributing: Steve Coogan

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.- noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: The never-ending debate about if the ‘Seattle Freeze’ is real