A frisk breeze caresses my face, chirping birds keep me company while a distant mountain range glows in the late afternoon light. It is like I’ve stepped into one of those mountainous Tumblr pictures I agressively repost during the final stressful weeks of semester. Except, this time there’s no need to click a single button to enter escapism. I am here in real life.
I have been in the Alps for several days now, hiking through alpine forests, climbing steep trails. I say that I’ve been here, but that only truly applies to my physical self.
My mental self is no where close to this small Swiss village where they serve an outstanding apfelkuchen. My mind is months ahead, thinking about life after graduation and whether or not I should apply for masters or jobs.
However, the unknown future is not my only tormentor. My current state of forced relaxation engulfs me in guilt. Should I not have taken a shorter holiday, worked more?
Should I have taken up a work placement besides my fulltime work week? How did I even dare to go on a holiday? Who even does that anymore? Isn’t that just for instagram influencers for whom even that sponsored trip to Mallorca is filed under work obligations?
During this whirlwhind of thoughts and accusations an internet meme keeps popping up in my head. It mimics a persistent pop up window yelling error everytime you try to click it into oblivion. I hate that meme; I am that meme.
The meme in question starts with the sentence: ‘how to know you’ve internalised capitalism’. Soon a list of personal attacks follow. ‘You determine your worth based on your productivity’, ‘You feel guilty for resting’, ‘Your primary concern is to make yourself profitable’, ‘You neglect your health’, ‘You think “hard work” is what brings happiness”.
Soon my overwhelming feeling of guilt is replaced by a stinging feeling of shame. How did I become the living embodiment of an anti-commercialism intagram meme? More importantly, how do I exit this horrid reality.
I think it is time I open that pop up, I think it is time I confront that ‘error’. Perhaps today is the day I cease to exist as a living, breathing meme. It is time I take a stand against capitalism not only by buying second hand clothing, but by also letting go of that internalised mind set.
While I see the sun vanish behind that distant Alpine mountain range with a beer in hand and my phone switched off, I can’t help but think, that this might be the nicest form of political protest I’ll ever experience.