Hello all. For my first discussion post I am wanting to clear up a question I have had for a while and I feel that the IUOMA site is the best place for this question as it is a very international group. I live in the United States currently, in Washington State and I have a feeling that even though I have traveled very much through this country, people in general seem to be very closed off from others. Has anyone else had this experience? I am originally from Florida, and there, people are generally very open and easy to connect with on some level. Any non-Americans out there have an insight about their country? Are other countries more open than America? I am here, in a major city (Seattle) and I cannot seem to connect with anyone on an artistic level, and those who do read, who love art (or at least proclaim to...) shut themselves off to their own clique, and are generally quite self-serving, this has been my experience so far, not to say that all people here are so, but that I haven't met anyone who was not just yet. Thank you for your insights.
Bonjour! I live in a little village in the South of France. there are about 4000 people here, and few of them are foreigners. For linguistic reasons mainly, we are an 'excluded' bunch of 'expats' -- welcomed into the local society (as long as we make an effort to integrate) but still 'outsiders'. In general, I find it difficult to get to really know the French: they are civil and courteous, but it's not easy to strike up a 'real' friendship with them: for example, one very rarely gets invited into a French home. The position here is not typical of the country as a whole, as the village, Sigean, is pretty isolated, and in general, is full of 'peasants' -- whom I really like. Things are probably different in big French cities (or even medium size-ones for that matter).
There is a small artistic community here, and I have (gradually) got to be a part of it.
I have a book by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow with the intriguing title '60 million Frenchmen Can't be Wrong: What makes the French so French'. (The title is an adaptation of a Cole Porter song title). The title is the best part of the book. if I was reviewing it, I would suggest that the sub-title should be something like 'How 2 visiting Canadian professors failed to understand France because they spent all their time in Paris, didn't really go anywhere else, and didn't talk to anyone other than Parisian political, economic, intellectual and social elites, and, as a result, tried to describe what they called 'the French paradox' -- but failed, dismally'.
I also lived for 25 years in a village in the South of the Netherlands. There things were easier linguistically (almost everyone speaks English, and wants to practice it on you), there were more 'buitenlanders' (foreigners), there was more social interaction, and, generally, things were more 'open'. But then the anarchistic streak that runs through a large part of Dutch society is very different from that which exists in France.
A good book on Holland is 'The Undutchables' by Colin White and Laurie Boucke. It's subtitle is pretty accurate: 'An observation on the Netherlands: its culture and its unhabitants'.
You must be wary of my generalisations, and, as a former professional social scientist, i would be the first to point out that they are just that -- my generalisations.
And, lastly, to all French and Dutch friends whom I might have offended with these comments, I apologise -- as I said these are my generalisations, and as i implied, they are not based on social scientific, cultural, anthropological, etc expertise.
Hope this is of some use;
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Sorry it took me so long to reply, my internet has been disconnected for a moment, and I finally got to the library here. That's interesting to me, your experience, because I am used to individuals in smaller towns here having a more 'involved' relationship with their neighbors. Where do you originally come from?
Ah the joys of the Internet.
Here's where I have lived:
1946-65, Darlington, England -- a small town of 80,000 people, then off to University..
1965-69, Wivenhoe (a small villgae) and Colchester (again about 80,000 people), England, then off to University again...
1969-70, Ottawa, Ontario, a big, cold and horrible place, then back to England...
1970-77, Colchester again, then off to yet another University in...
1977, Arhus, Denmark (population about 200,000), then...(indirectly) off to yet another University...
1977 - 82, a small (7,000) village just outside Rotterdam, the Netherlands, ...then (and I'd finished with Universities then, but they did eventually come back in my life) to...
1982-2001, yet another small village (4,000 people) just outside Maastricht (120,000 people) in the South of Holland . I had offices then in Brussels, Belgium, and London...until, finally I moved in....,
2002- to date, the village I live in in the South of France, Sigean.
So, I've either lived in small towns or in villages just outside of small towns, in England, Canada, Denmark, Holland and France (and wpent a lot of time working in big cities -- Amsterdam, Brussels, london, geneva, etc).
Et vous? And you?
I hope to someday travel and see many different places, I was once going to move to Ontario, Batchawana Bay) but that didn't work out, and probably for the best! Holland is a beautiful place, as much as I've seen in photos, I'd love to see it someday. I will tell you where I have lived aswell:
1988-2008 Florida (Everglades, Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Gainesville, Sarasota, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, respectively)
2008 June - September 2008 Tucson, AZ
September 2008-May 2009 Atlanta, GA
May2009-August 2009 Florida Everglades
August 2009-December 2009 San Francisco
December 2009 - February 2010 Florida Everglades
February 2010 - June 2010 Madison WI
June 2010 - August 2010 Portland OR
August 2010 - January 2012 Madison WI
January 2012 - Present Seattle, WA
I am wondering how long you have been in Seattle, and whether anyone has discussed with you about something called the "Seattle Freeze." I am going to list several sites below from several media outlets from several different long-range dates that published articles and inquiries about the phenomenon. Defintely not something to be proud about as a Pacific Northwesterner, but just saying that the phenomenon has a persistent history.
I don't think that your question necessarily pertains to The United States as opposed to other Nations--I mean, certainly there is a difference, but I think what you are experiencing is something more regional in aspect. One of the links below has statistics for different state and regional "outgoingness/extroverted"-levels as opposed to areas prone to less immediate social interaction.
Coming from a much more "neighborly" area of the East Coast United States, the Seattle Freeze has always been a conundrum. But as you have obviously noticed, it definitely exists. I have tried conjecturing many times what it might be attributed to--some say the rainy weather; some say the backlash against the Californian invasion of the 70s and 80s; I myself have often wondered whether the large Asian American immigrant popluation influenced social mores--for instance in some Asian cultures it is a sign of disrespect to look at someone directly; or perhaps it is solely a result of the "live-and-let-live" attitude that occurs when several worldy immigrant cultures--speaking different languages--collectively throw themselves together in a city that comes into existence at such a rapid growth rate. (Seattle is really only about 150 years old--becoming born out of an utter frontier wilderness--one of the youngest metropolitan places on the Earth.)
When all is said and done, the world--and any social interaction--is really what one makes of it. If you get yourself out there (volunteer opportunities are great for meeting people!) and are generous with yourself, present yourself with grace, and offer your trust and confidence, you'll be a little social magnet!
In addition to these links, simply google "Seattle Freeze," and you'll see what I mean about its persistence...
Hey Thom! Thank you for the links. I will agree with you about getting out there and meeting people, I just recently made a few good friends! Of course, having a one year old son makes meeting people a bit more difficult, but living in Capitol Hill is a nice area to socialize. How do you like Seattle? I really enjoy it here, it is a beautiful place and the people are considerate, if not outgoing, for the most part.
Emily, I used to live in SF too, people were pretty flat there, even more so than here in Seattle! How lucky to be in Florida, it's the place where I was born and lived for 19 years of my life, so of course I have a connection with it for always. I think I mostly wrote this post when I was feeling awfully down about not knowing anyone in my area, but now I start to see a lot more possibilities to connect with others on an artistic and personal level. I will agree though that the south in general is a much more easy place to make great friends. :)