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Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to North America. For those looking to relocate within the US or Canada, discuss your experiences and pros/cons of each domestic region.
12 posts • Page 1 of 1
Documented proof of anti-sociality in America in one of the worst places
Probably one of the strongest examples of anti-sociality in America is in the Seattle, Washington area. As one who was stuck in that area for years (not by choice) I can personally attest that it is one of the worst and most anti-social areas in the country. People in general there are like hermits who detest social interaction, hate meeting new people, and seem very comfortable around others, merely humoring passerbys with a fake polite smile. It felt like the Twilight Zone there, where I was the only one that was normal. It got so bad in fact that I wrote this article at http://www.happierabroad.com/Bellingham_Curse.htm
In fact, the frigidity of the social atmosphere in the Seattle area is so apparent that it came to the attention of the cityâ€™s own major print media. The Seattle Times did a story on it, coining the term â€œThe Seattle Freezeâ€�, which you can read at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2005/0213/cover.html
The report describes a common social pattern where people are very polite to others, stopping to let you cross the street, letting you cut in on the freeway, waving a fake hello to you, etc. but are extremely non-inclusive in that they donâ€™t invite you anywhere, donâ€™t wish to spend time with you, and donâ€™t like meeting new people or socializing other than waving politely to strangers that pass by, never seeing them again. Here are some key excerpts from the story:
â€œThose who move to Seattle also have another kind of story. But you don't broadcast this one. You keep it to yourself or whisper it to other transplants. It goes something like this:
You're talking to a co-worker/someone at a party/fill in the blank. In any other town, this person looks like someone with whom you might be friends. Potential friend asks, "So what are you up to this weekend?"
"Oh, I don't have any plans yet. I just moved to Seattle and don't really know anybody . . ."
You try not to look desperate.
Friend-to-be smiles and, for a brief, shining moment you think to yourself: Finally, someone is going to ask me to do something. Invite me to a party. Happy hour. Brunch with the girls. It'll be just like "Sex and the City." She'll be Charlotte; you'll be Carrie!
You feel a chill coming on. Still smiling, Friend-Not-On-Your-Life politely excuses herself, "Well, have a nice weekend then."
â€¦â€¦. the dichotomy most fundamental to our collective civic character is this: Polite but distant. Have a nice day. Somewhere else.
Seattle is like that popular girl in high school. The one who gets your vote for homecoming queen because she always smiles and says hello. But she doesn't know your name and doesn't care to. She doesn't want to be your friend. She's just being nice.
â€¦â€¦â€¦ But in Seattle, it was cold shoulder after cold shoulder. She was working as a waitress with dozens of people her age, but it took six months before one of them invited her along when they went out after work.
"It seems nobody really wants to let you in," she says. "They'll say, 'Oh yeah, yeah, I'll get your number' â€” but you know that's going nowhere."
"Here, it's so weird, people are so nice in these passing situations, but beyond that there's a wall," she says.
Sociology professor Jodi O'Brien has a name for it: "the phenomenon of the plastic smile."
Seattle's "social script," she says, can ultimately lead to "alienation" and "isolation." "Politeness is a poor substitute for intimacy and genuine friendship."
"At the university, where people are hired from all over, this is a pretty standard conversation," O'Brien says. "Seattleites are often seen as having this veneer of pleasantness but being hard to come to know."
â€¦â€¦.. WHILE RESERVE may come in handy when you've got on white gloves, it can make for a rather stultifying social scene, as Gabriel Tevrizian found when he moved here 15 years ago from Buenos Aires.
Now 40, Tevrizian recalls that for the first time in his life, he knew what it meant to be lonely.
"There's no such thing as that in Argentina," he says. "There are people around you constantly. They come over and hang out and then they hang out some more.
"People here don't ever just hang out â€” there's no time for that â€” but those are the times you really get to know people."
Any attempt to socialize begins to feel like too much effort, he says. "You have to try to get together 10 times before someone doesn't cancel."
Trying to develop a friendship in Seattle, you can feel a bit like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day." Like with each encounter you have to start from scratch, back to the surface niceties.
Take the dog park. Pam Tate and her Pomeranian-Schipperke mix Jett see the same people each week at the Magnuson Park off-leash area. As the dogs sniff each other, their owners chitchat and trade compliments on each other's sniff-worthy dogs. But each time, at the end of the conversation, "I know the dog's name, but not the owners'. How sad is that?"
And as Tate, 36, quickly learned, when you actually make an effort, you risk coming off as pushy. When she arrived from Orange County, potential-friend types would say, "Hey, let's do something sometime." And she thought they meant it. She'd try to actually set something up. "People would seem shocked; I was seen as aggressive for asking people to do a specific thing at a specific time."
After a series of squirmy rebuffs, she realized that when Seattleites say, "Let's do something sometime," what they really mean is: "Let's never do anything ever."
"A lot of what people call socializing is really just public isolation," O'Brien says.
Here in Seattle we do a lot of things alone. We live alone: Two out of five households have a single occupant â€” one of the highest rates in the nation. More than three-quarters of people participate in an individual sport but only 13 percent play on a team. We ride bikes alone; go on walks alone; troll bookstores alone, then go home and read alone.
"People find their set of activities to do and they are fairly content," O'Brien says.
In fact, Seattle's seeming split personality might come from this very complacency. We don't have anything against you, but simply don't feel the need to take the risk of inviting you into the fold.
"On the one hand, it's nice to bop in and out of situations knowing people will smile and treat you well. Nice is like bubble gum â€” it's sugary and pleasant." But if all you ever get is nice, never flirty or risky, she says, that gum loses its flavor pretty quick, and the human experience becomes ultimately less rewarding. Even depressing.
She cites a famous sociological study of flight attendants, which found being nice all the time is an especially draining kind of work. It can cause the emotional equivalent of repetitive stress injury. At the end of the day, some flight attendants would have trouble turning the nice off. And stuck in nice gear, they became disassociated from their true emotions and had trouble expressing them.
First, it's an enabling cultural climate for socially inept people. So if you come here and you have any germ of antisociality, it will, like moss, take hold and flourish.
And if you arrive here open and ebullient, you're bound to lose your confidence and spark after enough cold shoulders. After all, why even bother going to that party when you know it will just be more nonchalant chitchat that will never go anywhere?
"If a dog gets smacked every time he sticks his nose out of the cage, guess what happens?" Pam Tate says. "After a while of putting yourself out there and being rebuffed, you just say forget it."
Newcomers seem to acclimate to the social habits along with the weather. We soon learn to lay off our horns and grow less effusive with invitations.â€�
Now isnâ€™t that all so sad? It should never be that way. I wonder why the story never even bothered mentioning actually LEAVING Seattle as a possible solution, since there are so many places in the world where socializing is completely NATURAL and FREE-FLOWING (which is the whole basis of my ebook in fact). Instead, it reports on the remedy of going to singles clubs and social mixers composed of other Seattle transplants, a very mono-national solution. Apparently itâ€™s taboo to mention that somewhere else is better than where youâ€™re at.
Frankly though, Iâ€™ve been to organized social mixers in Seattle and even though this is gonna sound rude, Iâ€™m going to tell it like it is: They are mostly composed of overweight unattractive people! (sorry if thatâ€™s rude and offensive, but itâ€™s true) Yeah they were very nice people, but WHY SETTLE for that when you can go to Europe or the Philippines and hang out in social groups of skinny attractive people EASILY?! And date attractive people naturally as well (as long as youâ€™re a nice decent guy)? It makes no sense, doesnâ€™t show the big picture, and shows the news writerâ€™s highly mono-national views.
If that isnâ€™t limited enough, get this one. These folks in a Seattle Meetup.org chat are claiming that it usually takes 2 years to make new friends when you move to a new place!
Are they talking about Seattle, the USA, or the whole world when they say â€œnew placeâ€�? I donâ€™t think it takes that long even in the States to make friends when you move somewhere new! What are these folks smoking?! Who has two years of their life to waste with no social life?! In most places in the world, if I talk to people, I can make new friends within 30 minutes of arriving in a new place! Iâ€™ve never had a problem at all, look! http://www.happierabroad.com/ebook/Collage.htm
If only these folks knewâ€¦â€¦â€¦ They are like the cavemen in Platoâ€™s Cave Analogy, watching the shadows on the wall while the enlightened have already found the daylight on the surface.
Last edited by Winston on October 7th, 2012, 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Seattle is one of the few cities, which I have never visited. My uncle lives there. I have heard some really strange things about the place ... Everything from people having dogs instead of kids, to women trying to make hairy legs a fashion statement. It sounds like a really weird place. I must see it sometime! LOL! That Seattle social script sounds quite ironic. I also heard that the Seattle area has more millionaires/billionaires than any other city in the country.
I agree that it is ridiculous if it takes 2 years to make new friends when moving to a new place. Especially for young single people. People have communication needs, and can actually get very sick (mentally, emotionally and physically) when those needs are not met. Two years of social isolation ... It should be no surprise that Seattle ranks high in suicide (from last i read).
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
You've raised a good point with that post which I've been wanting to talk with you about.
Note:"You try not to look desperate"
If you don't already have friends and a circle of friends, then you are automatically a loser. So here, in the US, you have to put on a false and fake persona that you're busy with all your friends--otherwise you can easily create the impression that you are a loser. It's sick! But this false image you have to present is what is called 'social skills."
In germany, I've been told that that cultural behavior doesn't exist. There is no stigma for being by yourself and or earnestly trying to connect with people. You can go to bars by yourself freely and no one will judge you as being a friendless loser.
So have you, Winston, found the Phillipeans to exempt from this social malaise? Do the girls there look down there nose at you if they think you are desperate? Here in the US it is certain death when interacting with females.
Furthermore, it seems to me that the "desperation," if you can call it that-it seems to me more like loneliness, is caused by the all this arrogant , selfish and judgemental attitudes which so many, many people exhibit here in the US.
Like Winston says on his website Happier Abroad, going out alone means staying alone in America! God forbid you go to a party by yourself, people might think you are a loser because you don't any friends with you! What's up with that kind of reasoning? Another thing I don't understand here in America is why don't people talk to their neighbors? I read a survey recently that said only 8% of Americans socialize with their neighbors! People in America are so anti-social it's ridiculous! People seem to be paranoid of one another! There is no "sense of community" here in the US, unless your in a small town maybe!
I talk to my neighbors ... probably because almost all of them are from foreign countries, mostly Mexico. My son plays with their kids. It's very interesting to get a glimpse of a polychronemic culture like Mexico. You may ask them to come over at a certain time on a certain day for someone's birthday or something, then they show up unexpectedly like 3 days later. It could make someone mad, but it's nice for me to escape the tight schedules for a change.
Last edited by KristineTheStrawberryGirl on October 23rd, 2007, 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
In regards to the initial post about Seattle it is wholly inaccurate to say it is better, worse or different than other metropolises within the US. Posting comments is not evidence. Every metropolis I've visited or lived in has exactly the same complaints. For that matter, I've heard the same in rural areas as well... for decades.
It's actually quite funny to have watched for so many years so many people in every area of the US say their area is the worst. There's a sort of selfishness about it that shadows any movement toward discovery.
Hmm ... I've not had that experience. The Great Lakes area and the West Coast are as different as night and day in many regards. The complaints I have heard are totally different.
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
The 'West Coast' is one helluva big place and the cultural variations are as numerous as the towns, but overall I find the US isn't that different, in that the prevailing attitude toward strangers is similar and the need to be disingenuous or obsessed by information or matters of business in most conversations predominates; my experience in comparing the people of this country with people of others.
If you consider the West Coast to be California then the complaints are obvious. If you stretch it to include the other half, i.e., Oregon and Washington then the differences become clearer. If you travel from east to west Washington the sentiment toward religion, politics, economics, neighbors, relationships changes greatly. If you travel from the town I live in to 12 miles to the East you will find anarchists stockpiling weapons living up in the mountains in 'Unibomber Specials,' people believing black helicopters are watching them and their every movement; anti tax, anti government Puritanical Bible-tells-all types who can't bear to accept science to be taught much less embraced as a means of understanding anything.
And that's just 12 miles to the East.
I go within my own town and I find rather 'liberal' areas inundated with college students donning dreadlocks and musing about the 'corporate system of atrocities.' While in another part there are complexes smoldering with drugs, guns, noise.
It's inaccurate to look at one part of the US and say it is that much different from the rest without looking more deeply and qualifying the statement more clearly. What's most important to me personally is if people think of themselves as people first, gender/sex second and race somewhere down the line.
As far as the Midwest...
I 'did time' in the Midwest and found it is very deceptive to people who haven't lived throughout it or have not grown up in destitute poverty. One of my closest friends lived in one of the nicest suburbs in the Metro and was killed on his kitchen doorstep by a random act of violence, the person who shot him did it without realizing my friend was a different person than the one he thought he was going to kill. Minneapolis is now nicknamed Murderapolis due to it's homicide rate. My experiences have shown me the people in the Upper Midwest are far more cliquish than the lower and the lower is less cliquish than out here, and it's pretty bad here on the left coast. Minnesota is also known for it's passive aggressiveness. Some who come there and try to do business simply can't because in negotiations like every other social interaction the people act like your friend to your face then tear you to bits when you walk away. Those are experiences of myself and others I knew who came from New York, Ohio, Florida...
Keep in mind, these are MY EXPERIENCES.
From the ground up and the earlier grades up, the sentiment of the culture was not inclusive. Not much different in any place I've lived in this country.
In grade school there was this little girl frail and timid, whose mother had decided to move to our small little cozy town, a town that touts it's kindness by appearing full of smiles and pies. The mother was extremely poor. Since the girl wasn't related to anyone in the town she was immediately singled out.
The 'children' who were more like their parents by age six than one could ever imagine, cajoled her and her family into leaving with all the subtlety of a gang rape by beating, kicking, spitting on and berating. The breaking point was when she had to attend first communion. Her mother being a poor and undereducated parent, doing the best she could, purchased a used dress for her to wear to the ceremony, but not having the basic cultural experiences didn't know about bleach or how to use it, so the little girl had to wear a yellowish dress to the doings.
The abuse increased so much after that point she was gone in less than two weeks.
If necessary I could qualify my tales with hearsay from others or by relating experiences I've had in many other towns I've lived in in that region of the country, but it would be pointless since the theme wouldn't change and to those who have lived a more marginal life in the Midwest would simply dismiss it or find themselves incapable of believing any of it.
There are atrocities behind the closed doors of farmhouses and within the borders of the nicely pruned lawns that most could never imagine. My point is, generalization is only one means the brain uses to sort it's experiences, it shouldn't be used as a fall back for understanding everything. Most people make the mistake of thinking their world is the world, period. I do what I can to avoid that practice. It is very dangerous.
I also understand through talking to many others that the aforementioned traumas were not their lives, they never saw any of the molestations, rapes; psychotic mothers who exploited their children sexually to boyfriends and uncles or backwoods abortions with little secret graves in peoples yards. They never even saw anything more than an slight discomfort in daily living. I admire them and am glad for them. But I also know, what I have related is far from isolated or rare. Keep in mind, I grew up in one of the wealthier parts of the Great Lakes region (not Minnesota.)
I ran my own business in the Midwest and was quite successful. I had accounts with people so rich they owned their own jets and I worked with types most consider the best of the best, and I still ran into debauchery of the nth degree. I wasn't looking for it, it was just hard to miss.
W: Definitely in the Philippines. Here, even cross-dressers and transvestites are accepted by society and roam around freely (at most places). Girls here are not snotty or stuck up, unless they are rich in Makati, but even then they are still open to polite talking and do not have a disdain for men.
Great comments Gmm567. I will add some of your points to my ebook, if you don't mind