Richmond Freeze Stuns Social Scene

Illustration by Sammy Newman.

Brianna Scott
Contributing Writer

Making friends is not the easiest task. Yes, even in a world with more than 7 billion people, some still manage to feel like they are on their own — and it’s not for lack of trying.

When I think about Richmond — a vibrant city with hundreds of thousands of people — I wonder why it is so hard to pin down a solid group of friends.

I tend to do my own thing most of the time. I’ve always found myself floating around in social groups and never anchored to a specific set of people. These aren’t bad traits, but I find myself feeling alone in the city I’ve called home for the past four years.

The Seattle Freeze is a social phenomenon where the city’s newcomers typically find it difficult to make friends. Possible causes include the fact that Seattle has become an in-between space, many already have their own cliques or the cold, rainy weather makes people distant.

A city “freeze-out” isn’t exclusive to Seattle — Richmond could be experiencing one, too. As you grow older, your circle of friends tends to shrink. However, the aging process doesn’t signify the end of your social life.

That’s a vulnerable statement for me to make, but I took to RVA’s Reddit page to see what folks thought about the potential phenomena of a “Richmond Freeze.”

There seemed to be this consensus on my Reddit post that there isn’t a freeze — but I believe there is a frost.

One user’s comment stuck out to me among the fifty or so others.

“I don’t feel like I easily click into any set scene so I’m kinda floating around. The city seems more judgmental or superficial. People size each other up on appearance, and if you’re not an easy fit, people are less likely to be open to you.”

It felt as if I had written this comment myself.

I think the reason it’s so difficult to make friends nowadays is that people don’t have time or energy for new companions. People are set in their ways and comfortable with the friends they have made in the past which makes them closed off to newcomers. If you are a newcomer to a group, it’s like you have to bring something fresh to the table that makes you interesting enough to be friends with. Making friends is like an auction show to me — how can I show the best parts of myself to convince people we should be friends?

None of this is easy because life is fast-paced. We don’t pause to consider taking more time to make a conscious decision to seek out life-long friends versus casual friends to party with. Trying to find that type of authenticity is challenging because it requires people to put in time with others, and we all believe our time is too valuable to waste — and it is. But we need to look up from our phones, pull ourselves away from the comfort of what we know and notice the person standing across from you in the room could be a new friend.

It isn’t that people in Richmond are these anti-social beings freezing others out. It’s just that they come off a little frosty and it’s up to all of us to not let it be a deterrent.

Now, I might just suck at making friends. While I joke, on a real note, we shouldn’t turn up our noses at people who don’t instantly make friends or aren’t extroverted. We shouldn’t judge those who find it difficult to be vulnerable. We should be more considerate of the fact that people have things going on in their own lives — but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be friends with us. You can’t expect to be a friendship magnet but you also can’t rock the vibe of “no new friends” forever.


  1. I have visited Richmond and It may be that I am a foreigner and a little outgoing but I had no problems meeting people and getting them to open up or invite me to some function or another. Whether it was on the bus, walking along the street, students at VCU (I am old enough to be their dad, by the way), people in Target or Walmart or watching The Flying Squirrels. People were always friendly.

    • My comment is about how I find the people, I imagine that someone who is introverted would have a harder time. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, say “Hi” and not worry if it is reciprocated. I laugh at myself for being one of those chatty old men who embarrasses my family. But I don’t care. Many of the people you meet have amazing stories to tell that they themselves think are just ordinary.

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