Oregonians Don’t Want to Make New Friends, Survey Says

“Here, we see a lot of JOMO: joy of missing out.”

Who needs friends? Not Oregonians, apparently.

Around 43 percent of Oregonians polled by Seattle-based Pemco Insurance last month said making friends was not a priority.

The study, first reported by the Seattle Times, surveyed 600 Oregonians and 635 Washington residents. While people with kids and those under the age of 35 were somewhat more likely to prioritize social interaction, a high percentage of pollsters, 40 percent in both states combined, said new connections were not important to them.

Derek Wing, a spokesperson for Pemco, says the survey aimed to test the reputation the Pacific Northwest of being unwelcoming to newcomers.

"I'm from the East Coast originally and when I first moved out here all my friends were transplants as well," Wing says. "It wasn't until I married someone who was a Northwest native that a whole new world opened. It was sort of like I joined the club."

North of Portland, the phenomenon of new people getting an icy welcoming is called the "Seattle Freeze."

The chill extends to Portland (and it's not just directed at Californians). 49 percent of Washington and Oregon pollsters combined said they weren't even interested in interacting with people they do know.

Where most people have FOMO, or the fear of missing out, Wing says, "here, there's the opposite, which is JOMO: joy of missing out."

What makes us rainy city dwellers such ice-cold hermits? Andrew Nestigen, chair of Washington's Department of Scandinavian Studies, told the Seattle Times he thinks it's the influence of Nordic culture on the area.

Wing says it could be that tech jobs or other industries (Oregon ranks number two for highest number of employees who work from home) attract more introverted people.

"I don't think there are any major surprises in the study," Wing says. "It's nice to see people chiming in on both sides; people defending the Pacific Northwest and saying 'That's not been my experience' and some who completely agree that it's difficult to make friends."

Whatever the reason, newcomers who feel isolated in the frigid social waters can do what most Portlanders have done: Get a cat. And, if it's cute enough, make it Instagram famous.