Probably one of the strongest examples of anti-sociality in
In fact, the frigidity of the social atmosphere in the
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 don’t invite you anywhere, don’t wish to spend time with you, and don’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:
“Those who move to
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
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
You feel a chill coming on. Still smiling, Friend-Not-On-Your-Life politely excuses herself, "Well, have a nice weekend then."
……. the dichotomy most fundamental to our collective civic character is this: Polite but distant. Have a nice day. Somewhere else.
……… But in
"It seems nobody really wants to let you in," she says. "They'll say, 'Oh yeah, yeah, I'll get your number' — 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."
"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."
…….. 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
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
"People here don't ever just hang out — there's no time for that — 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
Take the dog park. Pam Tate and her Pomeranian-Schipperke mix Jett see the same people each week at the
And as Tate, 36, quickly learned, when you actually make an effort, you risk coming off as pushy. When she arrived from
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.
"People find their set of activities to do and they are fairly content," O'Brien says.
"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 — 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.”
Now isn’t that all so sad? It should never be that way. I wonder why the story never even bothered mentioning actually LEAVING
Frankly though, I’ve been to organized social mixers in
If that isn’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
If only these folks knew……… They are like the cavemen in Plato’s Cave Analogy, watching the shadows on the wall while the enlightened have already found the daylight on the surface.