Everybody Hates Seattle

Passive aggression is passé in a city desperate for change.

By Zoe Sayler August 22, 2022 Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Seattle has a reputation for being a passive-aggressive city. The kind of place where neighbors leave “Nice park job!” notes on your hastily exited Prius.

So when did things get so…aggressive?

I’m not just talking about right-wing critics who insist that the city’s been overrun by anarchists, stray needles, and Kshama Sawant. These days, it seems like everyone, including Seattle, hates Seattle. 

Angry Seattle had an attitude problem before it was cool: The antagonistic Twitter account launched in 2009 with the goal of helping our fine city let out its “bottled-up frustrations,” as its anonymous founder told me. “There’s a shitload of stuff to complain about here, and I like to complain.”

While their gripes range from “bad weather” to our “supremely ineffective politicians,” many of Seattle’s other detractors take a more explicitly progressive position. They, like Angry Seattle, hitch their vexation to an inherent tension. But rather than subverting Seattle’s passive-aggressive reputation with straight-up anger, they’re turning Seattle’s liberal reputation on its head with political criticisms straight from the left.

Take, for example, the podcast Mechanical Freak—formerly known as Seattle Sucks—which critiques our “liberal dystopia” on everything from the “shiftless, good-for-nothing, most progressive city council ever” to the “deeds of Seattle’s finest pigs” (yep, the Seattle Police Department).

Perhaps our civic cynicism has its roots in a greater Seattle dreariness. Could you blame a citizenry that has spent the past two-plus years taking the pandemic seriously—and half of that time in the throes of seasonal depression—for getting a little grumpy?  

That doesn’t fully explain it, though. If this swell of complaints came from a place of abject misery, they’d be just that—complaints. A way to pass the time until we could move somewhere with better weather, better drivers, and better politics.

But the most full-throated critiques look more like calls to action: Abolish the police (and protect the people). Screw the union-busters (and support the baristas). Even Angry Seattle’s not just angry—they think calling out the things that get on everyone’s nerves might just “change a few of them in the process.” Because within every condemnation of Seattle lies an essential truth: We don’t want to leave. 

Yes, other cities may be better at merging onto the freeway, or passing legislation without running it through the wringer that is the Seattle Process. But we’ve got the best summers, we’ve got water as far as the eye can see, we’ve got great coffee and 150,000 dogs and the best-protected abortion rights in the country. And if you’re not willing to be Pollyanna-ish about it, maybe you’ll at least agree with Angry Seattle: “It’s nice that there’s an audience of like-minded angry people to tweet with.” 

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