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31. Schwaben

Schwaben

If it’s true that 35 percent of all internet traffic is used for transferring porn, then the remaining 65 surely must be clogged up by the ramblings of elite Germans in skinny jeans and granny dresses who brazenly teach an unsuspecting audience about all those vapid little aspects that, in their acutely voiced opinion, make the particular part of Berlin they recently moved to the only place that’s still interesting to live at.

Yet, as the famous saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time,” it feels like most of these people are currently living in Berlin.

How so? Because now, as the hype they painstakingly created turns out to be working, in that droves of young, easily impressed people are crawling over each others’ shoulders to secure their place in one of the thousands of hyper-individualistic flat shares in the city of their uniformly predictable dreams, elite German people have come to the foreseeable conclusion that there is a downside to their desperate pursuit to become interesting by association with a trendy part of town. 

Upon closer inspection, the irritation seems to arise from the simple reality that it isn’t them who are in control of the immigration to their Altbau neighborhood. Although elite Berliners will argue that they are, in all likelihood, the most tolerant people on the face of earth, they throw tantrums as soon as someone moves in to the apartment next door who isn’t exactly like them. Oblivious to the paradox how they, arriving in Berlin as bumbling, provincial oxygen thieves barely able to hide their Osnabruck faces under a hastily grown, messy beard, resented being labeled as “gentrifiers,” elite Berliners tend to become extremely angry and insecure towards anyone who moves in after them.

That’s because the true German elite exists beyond the space-time continuum. Disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is never them or their buddies who are gentrifying Berlin, but, you guessed right, the folks who move in a month, a week, a day, even just an hour, after them. The good news, Auslander, is albeit you might have been called a gentrifying yuppie pig, because, uhm, you didn’t obey the council of elder gentrifiers’ memorandum about the maximum acceptable salary for your specific neighborhood, you can rest assured that there exists one group of people who your elite German friends still hate more than you: Schwaben.

Any self-respecting and -appointed Mitte bohemian is obliged to despise anyone from the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg who dares to share their ubernonconformist fondness for Berlin’s trendy neighborhoods. Schwaben, so the insinuation goes, make Berlin less hip because they all are nouveau riche, culture-averse countryside simpletons with way too much money and way too little enthusiasm for alternative art, crowd-sourced creativity, or old geezers publicly pleasing themselves at the Kit-Kat Club.

The accusations that all original gentrifiers can agree on is that Schwaben a) talk in an awful dialect that’s only remotely reminiscent of proper German and b) drive up the apartment rents because they are “good with money”. No word yet on whether elite German people also reckon that Schwaben have a weird physiognomy, you know, like huge, crooked noses.

Oddly enough, the more obvious criticism -- that Schwaben are hopeless johnny-come-latelies still in firm belief of the Berlin hype who are all-too-ready and gullible enough to trade in their narrow, yet likeable south-western environment of well-paid jobs, favorable climatic conditions, and tasty cuisine, for the despicable ambition to belong to a crowd of equally uninteresting pseudo-urbanites living in a perpetually up-and-coming city which, on a good day, feels like an abandoned suburb of Moscow -- should better be kept to yourself.

To the curious observer, the true motivation for the hatred is quite easy to grasp: Your German friends hate the Schwaben for holding a mirror up to them. Watching the hordes of corn-fed Schwaben roam the Berlin streets in naïve amazement about having accomplished the unthinkable by moving to a bigger city than Stuttgart, even the most narcissistic, full-of-themselves elite German people will come to the sobering realization that, in spite of all the blood, sweat, and tears spent in their effort to shed the marks of their own regrettably normal upbringing and become cosmopolites, all they are able to achieve is to barely stay two miserable months ahead of the average greenhorn from Tuttlingen.

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