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I actually registered on this forum years ago, and if I had posted then, maybe my life would be in better shape. I did lurk briefly, and have been doing so again for the past little bit, but for the most part, I ended up getting preoccupied with life and relationships. Recent events have brought my mind back in this direction. I could probably go off on a whole tangent just on that statement alone, but anyway.
Quick rundown. Actually, maybe not ‘quick,’ depending on what your threshold is. But I’m certainly not going to be offended if you choose not to read it. My name is Liam; lived in Bellingham, WA for half of my life (but was born elsewhere). Over the years, I have come to notice just how cold and impersonal everything is here (when I first arrived, I wasn’t paying attention, and I liked the scenery). I found this site when I was googling to see if anyone else had ever written about feeling this way, and came across Winston Wu’s page on the Bellingham Curse. I agreed with the majority of it, but it also seemed like it was trying to sell something really hard, so I took it with a grain of salt (I have since come to note that it’s simply how he writes about everything). Although people’s attitudes seem to change noticeably even one county over, it took actually leaving the country to see just what a diametric shift there was in people’s behavior. And I’m not even talking about going to one of the popular places that gets touted in communities like this one. The church I belonged to at the time was sponsoring this initiative in Nepal, where some people were going over and teaching local adults. Now, according to the U.S.’ image of Nepal, it’s basically nothing but tall mountains, poor people, and some terrorists. And yet the people there were very warm, very friendly, helpful, and sociable (some of this may have had something to do with us being foreign and exotic, but as far as I was able to observe, they weren’t noticeably different to their own people). I was among the only people of that group of 16 who seemed to notice the difference, and of the few who did, I was the only person who saw it as a positive. Others from this area thought the locals were pushy and invasive and ‘too friendly’ (lol). That kind of really started the ball rolling on the disconnect I have been increasingly dealing with regarding society here. I originally thought to simply move out of the area to get away from it, but more and more people seem to be feeling it all across the nation (naturally, all accounts are anecdotal, but the sheer volume is hard to write off).
Really, there’s quite a bit more detail, but in lieu of writing my manifesto, I’ll say that I have had dealings with foreign people -- largely women -- from various countries (it’s a college town – there are a few) that reinforced this. Not only did they not have the ‘barrier’ that surrounds nearly all the locals, but almost to a person, they all said pretty much the same thing, which is that American people for the most part seemed relatively courteous, but very closed, insular and unwelcoming. Some people are okay in such an environment, but I’ve come to realize I’m not one of them. I’m pretty sure it’s actually killing me, in spirit if not in reality.
I don’t have a lot of money right now, so ‘living the dream’ isn’t an immediate possibility for me, but it’s definitely my end goal. I had a good paying job, but they closed down and moved, and this is a wasteland for the most part when it comes to gainful employment. The few other places that pay well and utilize a skillset that I have require some pretty impressive degrees and qualifications (‘already been doing that job’ is apparently not considered a ‘qualification’). So with all the brainless busywork I’ve been doing in the meantime, there has been a lot of time to think. I figured I would try to finish out the IT degree I put on hold when I got the job at the refinery. I haven’t called places all over the world or anything, but according to everything I’ve read, it’s a field that has openings nearly everywhere. My ideal goal is to be able to pack up and just move sometime in the next few years. I haven’t decided on where, I don’t want to get all my ducks in a row and make plans now, only to be disappointed when things change or when reality sets in, but to be frank, if you spun a globe and stopped it somewhere random (as long as that place wasn’t the ocean), I’d probably be willing to go there. I already have TEFL certification, if that means anything (I know it’s not quite the boon it used to be, but it’s something, right?), in case I’m totally wrong about the degree. Just gotta tough it out for a bit and make it work.
Anyway, hello. I hope to contribute to topics around here in the future, and it's interesting to read about peoples' experiences.
I've never lived in the Pacific Northwest. I have a friend who spent some time there who'd also lived a long time in the South. He considered the people form the Pacific Northwest to be much more private and less sociable. He went to a beach there (a rocky one, I think) and there were some people nearby, not too close, but visible. He told the person with him to watch. Those people are going to go somewhere out of site. Sure enough they did. He saw that as a metaphor for how people are there.
It seems as if the Pacific Northwest is the most anti social part of the US. It's not just Winston who has alluded to this but a great deal of other people as well.
A few years ago Seattle had the highest suicide rate in the country. The weather there might play a part, with it being cloudy and rainy for most of the year.
What a depressing, anti social place the Pacific Northwest is!
"When I think about the idea of getting involved with an American woman, I don't know if I should laugh .............. or vomit!"
"Trying to meet women in America is like trying to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics."
Pretty much everybody who comes here from elsewhere seems to agree on it. While I've been here for maybe long enough to not be the greatest authority on such matters anymore (you know, rose-colored glasses and all), people who come even from other places in the U.S. mention that they feel throttled here. Some people may like it, I guess. For people who are already antisocial by choice, and who like nice scenery, and don't mind rain, it's probably heaven. But ugh. I was thinking about it not too long ago, and I realized that while I have a decent number of friends, I have literally ONE who is a genuine local. One person I know who is a local said it's not unusual for people to have less than three actual friends (and possibly none). I don't know that that statement is academically supported by any means, but it certainly feels like it could be the truth. I don't know why it took so long to see.
I think the rain has a little bit to do with it, in that it indirectly encourages people to stay indoors when it's raining. But the rain isn't as constant as the stereotypes say. It's something deeply ingrained in the culture itself. It's a mix of hardcore liberalism ('try to appreciate everything, but also view it as a threat') with what feels like splinters of some kind of bastardized 19th century puritanism (police in Blaine, WA will be called, and will literally stop you from dancing in public). It's a weird, somewhat distressing combination, and it's not a surprise that WA is a leader in suicides, and is the birthplace of a lot of serial killers and murderers.
Your assessment is correct. America's cultural problems are a form of corrupt puritanism. This is why American culture values any work, no matter how brainless and pointless, and why it seeks to punish men for sexual needs (which before marriage should be fulfilled by legal and affordable p4p.) This explains a lot of it, and it is entirely beyond repair.
A helpful guide:
Expatriation Apocalypse! The Guide to Expatriation for the Broke and Hopeless (Kindle)
Expatriation Apocalypse! (Paperback)
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