"The Seattle Freeze" and the importance of being intentional
I have recently been conducting my own social experiment of sorts over the last several months with the focus on the much-talked about "Seattle Freeze" and how it impacts our personal lives and professional lives as well as how it is observed by those that are transplants in Seattle and even those (like me) who were born and raised here.
In case you need a run down on what the Seattle Freeze is, the Seattle Freeze is described as (thanks to Urban Dictionary and well, anyone): a local public consensus that states the city of Seattle and/or its outlying suburbs are generally not friendly, asexual, introverted, socially aloof, clickish or strictly divided through its social classes, thus making the city/area difficult to make social connections on all levels.
I have always observed this sort of mentality here in Seattle and in fact, at times, notice myself resembling some of these traits, which is bothersome. But it wasn't really until I visited Los Angeles and New York City in the last several months, that opened my eyes to the reality and the seriousness of this freeze. It was the fact that I felt it was socially acceptable to walk down the street and make friendly small talk or eye contact, strike up a conversation that led to a dinner or happy hour that neither party was going to bail on for the next best thing or because they didn't want to muster up chit-chat. It was a difficult reality for me to come back to Seattle and officially grasp that this behavior and lifestyle is just not really accepted here. The importance of being intentional, genuine and simply, direct just seems to be lacking here in the northwest.
As a blogger, I notice this hands-on at blogging events (and I have also been guilty of this) when individuals are interacting (almost daily/weekly) on social media but can't say two words to each other or acknowledge one another in a less than 1,000 square foot space. Or the fact that if you do approach someone or a group of people at an event you sometimes get the impression that attempting to be extroverted is weird and that feeling can be very unsettling and unwelcoming. Have we all forgotten how to be an advocate for community in person?
After observing and talking with individuals about how we can be better at being intentional, supportive and genuine all while eliminating the freeze, I've come up with three main points I have been trying to abide by so I too am being held accountable for being more intentional.
One of the biggest complaints I've received from those that are transplants in Seattle is the flakiness of Seattleites. If you made plans, follow through with them. Be accountable if you make plans or are committed to plans. Put effort in to develop, establish and enhance your relationships on both a professional and personal level.
Avoid being the 'social only' friend.
We are all busy and caught up in the daily swirl that is social media. While social media is very beneficial to enhance and maintain our relationships, it can also be the demise of so many. Try to prevent social media from being your primary way of connecting and conversing. Ask yourself: Am I being genuine on social media? Is this what I would truly say to someone in real life that I do or don't know? Am I only being socially outgoing for the benefit of followers and likes on social media? Am I being intentional?
Eliminate the crutch and be present.
Do you catch yourself scrolling through Instagram for what feels like 90th time in a minute looking at the same photos you've already seen because you are walking down the street and don't want to make eye contact or interact with a single soul? Yes, we have all been there and some days we want to keep to ourselves and that's okay. However, is this passive behavior a daily occurrence that made you miss the opportunity to say 'thank you' to the person who held the door open for you or to smile at the coworker you pass by on the street? Determine your passive aggressive crutch (avoiding eye contact, playing with your phone, looking at the ground when you walk) and try to work on putting your guard down. Look up when you walk and embrace the confidence you can have walking down the street without a phone in hand to make you comforted you have an escape from the real world. While this can be hard for so many of us that are living in a social media enhanced world where we can be present in so many different places, lives and worlds at once, don't forget to be present in your own world.
Photos in this blog post by: KNDM Co.