Real problems vs. Our nature to complain -#firstworldproblems explained
Maybe you’ve heard about the meme and social media (#hashtag) phenomena called “First World Problems” and maybe you haven’t.
The concept behind “first world problems” is that so many things we complain about (in the west), tend to be issues that are inconveniences or hassles or things that disturb our workflow, plans, agenda or usual routine, but not really something that is a “problem” in terms of the rest if the world or is a given depending on where in the world you live (#realworldproblems). Take “unreliable internet connections” for an example: For many places in the world, this is simply life as they know it, yet if our service provider or cell company is having intermittent problems due to weather or ? it blows up social media in the west.
Another example is not receiving a package the day Amazon promised it. You can see this problem popping up when looking at book reviews on Amazon. (People actually write in the book review area that they did not receive the book when promised. Hardly a review of the book or author but there you go.) Compared to safe drinking water or sickness due to sanitation, hardly a real-world problem.
The meme (a photo with text over it usually dramatic and ironic) and hashtag (a way of tagging and searching the internet, especially social media posts), #firstworldproblems is thought to have begun on or on Reddit. Indeed, Reddit still has one of the more popular collections of heard first world problems (although some are crude), and they are now so popular that there are now collections of “best of” firstworldproblem memes and hashtags.
Urban Dictionary defines the term: “Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third-worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” and Knowyourmeme calls it “White whine.” which has spawned a whole series of related terms.
“I already have a lot of things going on wuth school and work. And now I have #firstworldproblems on top of everything else!?”
Much of the angst and subsequent irony has to do with “first world privilege” and “white privilege” issues in exists in society. This can be good as it encourages us to consider our own self-preoccupation and narcissism. Indeed, even those working overseas can find ourselves complaining of local issues when we ourselves are free to escape those very issues. We sometimes can be masters at complaining to anyone who will listen.
We have little to complain about compared to the residents of Hubei village, Pema Tshering of Bhutan, or the residents of Annawadi, the present-day slum of Mumbai, India, written about in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, or Colaba, as seen on Oprah.
How about you? As a project, take a week and note each time you complain or are upset over an issue. Or have your kids note each time you do. Is it due to a realworldproblem or a firstworldproblem? This is a great exercise and will also teach you and your children about “privilege” and our own expectations of the world around us.