I moved to New York City about 3 years ago and i've since noticed that, amongst people you meet, there seems to be a general sense of self centred-ness. I know this is the stereotype for New Yorkers - fast talking, no bullshit, opportunistic survivalists. I don't like stereotypes, so i tried very hard to disprove it for myself. However, after these 3 years, i have to say that the stereotype is fairly accurate in general. I do realise that there some lovely New Yorkers who will go out of their way to help you, but the "me-first" attitude is still very common.
I was wondering why this is, and i was reminded of a wounded animal. A wounded animal can growl and snap at anyone who comes near, out of a basic instinct for survival. I thought, perhaps, the chaos, noise and immensity of this city is threatening to us humans, on a subconscious level. Maybe the selfish New Yorker stereotype is a kind of survival instinct. Maybe we're all just wounded animals walking around with our defenses up.
On the other hand, maybe New York is more like the Amazon: a vast and complex eco system, highly dangerous for anyone who doesn't know their place, where a naive newcomer can easily be eaten, poisoned, or go hungry.