I grew up in a suburb south of Seattle, and spent most of my life living there. I'm 25, and I spent 4 years in Missoula, Montana and currently I've lived in Chicago for a year and a half. I would never, ever live in Seattle ever again. I hate Seattle without a smidgen of irony and I tell anyone who asks.
I've thought a lot about why Seattle is such a fucking awful place to live, and this is my theory. I won't reiterate the usual shit about the Seattle Freeze, traffic, yadda yadda. If you're on this website, you know the stereotypes, and by God they're true.
Seattle sucks because its only culture is capitalism (or commercialism, materialistic, bla bla). Relative to other big American cities like NY, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, etc, it is pretty new. Nobody has roots here. Everything is up for the highest bidder.
For example, one of our city council members just ordered the Gum Wall in the Pike Place Market to be steam-cleaned, because it was gross, or unsanitary, or some stupid fucking shit. This is a public monument which people from all over the world have touched - a monument that wasn't planned by any fucking committee, or any fucking bureaucrat, or any fucking rich guy. Culture means NOTHING to us. Could you imagine if Ireland tore down the Blarney Stone? Nothing is sacred in Seattle, nothing is worthy of being preserved, it's all about money. The buildings are all post-WWII Levi-town bullshit. Since the left never had any sort of power here (liberals are not the left btw), there's no public transportation that is reliable or efficient (when I moved to Chicago, the subway was the biggest thing I talked about, it was a revelation for me). There's no sense of togetherness.
But don't blame Seattlites. Their coldness is a defense mechanism for the shitty world they were brought up in. A native Seattlite's biggest interaction with their culture is through school, which is one of the most alienating experiences I can imagine. The idea with the schools is that everyone has to be the same and no rule can ever be broken for any reason. When I tried to rough-house with my buddies in middle school, we got in huge trouble because we weren't interacting in a school-sanctioned way. Kids can't be kids - everyone must always follow the rules. You never matter, you're just a number in a spreadsheet to the state, and your teachers want to help but they can't because their hands are tied too. At the top of the shit heap is the rich, who hijacked education to build an army of loyal cronies--and their efforts have been wildly successful.
The rich control everything in Seattle, to a greater degree than most other big American cities, because capitalism is the only show in town. There's no history of union organizing, no churches to displace, nothing other than the First Nations peoples, who were decimated and exiled a long time ago. So the rich are the only show in town as far as power goes. And the rich do not care about anything except getting really rich.
You know how Bill Gates is from Seattle? You know how he's the richest guy in the world? Yeah, we did that. Gates fucked with my education, too. He has so much money and power that he can make "donations" to the cash-strapped education department and then have all the say about what happens. And of course, as a captain of industry, does he care about art, language, and culture? Fuck no! He wants obedient little workers that never, ever, EVER ask questions. So all through my life, I've endured his fucking awful programs, which always consist of finding new ways to divide, segregate, and alienate students from each other on the basis of shitty little standardized tests. I was always the new kid when I was growing up because of people like him. I had to bounce from school to school to school, and it was unbelievably difficult to make friends when everyone lives a half-hour away and there's no way to get around except asking your parents to give you a ride both ways.
Gates isn't the only one, of course. Now there's Jeff Bezos and his army of autistic sociopaths at Amazon. Their corporate culture is an absolute rejection of all human qualities, a laser focus on "the customer." Now the city is teeming with these little shits, and even the natives can't stand them. Now the traffic, which used to be okay, is absolutely fucking unbearable because Great Lord Bezos is annexing another block for his infernal business. The really sad part is that Seattle is probably the most appropriate place for such a culture.
The Seattle Freeze is there because everyone grew up in a hyper-class-segregated society. We're like the caste system in India. From when you are a baby, you are stuck into some kind of category, and nothing you do will let you out of it. At first it's the schools that do it, but eventually people do it to each other. So when you interact with someone else, you're constantly asking yourself: "Where does this person stand in relation to me? How much respect do I have to give them? Will my standing be threatened if I'm seen with them?" This is what our cliquishness looks like from the inside. It's easier to withdraw, and being alone is ultimately the safest thing unless you're a hyper-charismatic extrovert...which most people aren't.
And believe me, I know something about being alone. Bullying was vicious and merciless when I was growing up. I had almost no friends whatsoever, and even people who were my friends for a while would just disappear completely. When I moved to another state, being able to make friends was surreal for me. I had to change my personality a lot, because when you live in Seattle too long, you have to build a little fortress inside yourself. I still am building doors in that fortress, it's fucking hard to do, because all my life I've been conditioned to keep the drawbridge up. You can't let anyone in, because at any moment they could disappear; some big bureaucratic mechanism, like the free (HAHAHAHAHA) market, the government, or whatever the fuck else, will reach down and pluck them away from you, if they don't leave out of fear of being abandoned by you.
Seattlites are self-centered because everyone else will soon leave, if they haven't left already. You have to have a really vivid inner life if you're going to survive, because the outer is so bland and artificial. You have to have the ability to be alone, because in Seattle everyone is alone. It's just you and the big bad world - nobody will listen to you because they have their own little fortress too, and if they let you in you might break something. Seattlites are dogmatic because their dogmas are small comforts in their constant struggle to live happily in a world under the complete control of profit-seeking corporate dictators. They have to convince themselves everything is okay, because if they can't, then they want things to change. People while away their lives trying to make Seattle livable, but nothing can save it. Seattle is fucked in its DNA, and the rich will never let go of it. Trying to fight them is like trying to pop the tires of a tank. I'm done trying. I'd rather live somewhere where people have fun and care about each other.
Fuck you, Seattle.