Ladies, the Men of Seattle Are Waiting for You

I had no idea that GeekWire’s coverage of You’ve Got Male: Amazon’s Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene would result in such widespread coverage as well as a viral spinoff. The gender ratio in Seattle and the failure of our local tech companies to hire women definitely touched a nerve, here and around the web.

While I support Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision of an urban campus, the company’s failure to hire equal numbers of women has certainly created a less diverse, more sterile neighborhood in South Lake Union. In Amazon’s proposed dog park: A chick magnet for lonely techies?, the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Tracey Spenser quoted Amazon’s lead architect at design firm NBBJ as saying, “the project’s design is aimed at making employees more innovative by exposing them to people other than their co-workers.” It’s ironic that the company’s built a literal bubble to get its employees out of their current bubble.

cover-570The lack of diversity at Amazon may also be a contributing factor to the company’s awful employee retention; its median employee tenure is one year (2nd worst according to Slate). Seattle’s alternative weekly, The Stranger, put an image of Amazon’s secretive “brogrammers” on its cover last week.

GeekWire’s Too many dudes…says single guy was its most popular article in May gathering more than 2,900 Facebook recommends, 166 tweets and 158 comments. GeekWire also ran a follow up from dating coach Virginia Roberts.

My post received 21,846 page views,  more than 2,000 Facebook recommends, 154 tweets and 78 comments. It appeared on popular technology blog Slashdot where it received 310 comments. I turned down television interviews from KING5  and KOMO News, Evening Magazine and KOMO and KIRO radio. I also received three date requests, although one was a request to get together to commiserate about the dating environment here in Seattle, something I’ve coined “commisedating”.

Definitely the most entertaining result was local journalist Tricia Romano’s, “Amazon is Killing My Sex life” which also appeared in Salon and Alternet (Salon covered my post here). Sure, “the tech boom in Seattle is bringing in droves of successful, straight single guys,” said Romano, but “as any woman will tell you: You don’t want to date any of them.” She described the conversation on a recent date with an Amazon guy as “the kind of talk that shuts vaginas down cold.” I heard that her piece garnered praise from noted New York Times columnist David Carr. On Salon, it received 803 Facebook shares, 275 tweets and 285 comments.

Undeterred by weak conversation, Glamour’s Gena Kaufman covered my post in There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Single Men, Except in These Places You Should Move to Immediately (also published at MSN Living  and Yahoo Shine). About Seattle, she wrote, “Pro: It’s raining men. Con: It’s also just raining, like all the time.

In Sorry, guys, Amazon’s not why you’re still single, Seattle Times blogger Gene Balk challenged my math (doesn’t he know I went to public school?). It remains to be seen whether the 2010-2012 Census ACS estimates are accounting for Amazon’s rapid, male-dominated growth. We’ll know more in 2020.

As for comments, they were wide-ranging. Dating is generally hard and an arena packed with emotion. People spoke of The Seattle Freeze, the poor social skills of Amazon men (I’m not an Amazon employee – I’ve developed my poor social skills wholly on my own) and much much more.

A number of people criticized me personally and encouraged me to look both literally (one said I was “ugly”) and figuratively in the mirror. But, I think that if you’re not a straight guy seeking love in Seattle, you can’t really understand how the numbers of men here distort the dating scene. I recently went out with a woman on a Sunday evening who related waking up to five new OKCupid emails that morning alone. Last night, I had drinks with a woman who said she routinely receives 70 messages per week. I most resonated with this commenter, Mike: “I just left Seattle after 15 years, and I found your two tactics are what worked for my social life, plus a third: organized activities (cycling group, kayakers event, film festivals) where the activities were very specific. Just a general “singles mixer” never works in Seattle. But for dating or a personal life, none of these strategies seemed sufficient.”

Here are some other sites that wrote about the piece:


Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.

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