First World Problems

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Have you ever heard of the term “first world problems”? It’s a phrase assigned to an irritant or irk that is so obviously only a problem for those living in developed, first world countries such as America. While people living in impoverished third world countries go without basic necessities like food or clean water, we’re over here in America bitching about the cell reception on our iPhones and whining about the caloric value of a Cinnabon. #firstworldproblems has trended on Twitter and sometimes it’s also referred to as “white people problems”.


I’ve only heard about this phenomenon recently.  Last summer my co-worker Dan came out of his office to talk to me about the problems he was having with his iPod.  After expressing his frustration with the functionality of his music player, he paused and looked up at the ceiling. “This is such a white person problem," he sighed.

That statement tickled to me, to say the least. I had never heard this term before and it so perfectly encompassed 99% of the problems I experience on a daily basis. Only a week or so later I was telling Dan about an uncomfortable experience I once had in a limo, and in the middle of my rant about the lack of seating space, I stopped myself. I slapped my hands over my mouth. “Oh my gosh!” I mumbled from behind my hands. “That is SUCH a first world problem.” I was legitimately ashamed of myself. 

Now #firstwordproblems has become like my daily mantra (it’s not really a mantra, but it might as well be). Any time I catch myself getting worked up over something or feel irritated, I say, “Is this a legitimate problem or a first world problem?” (Which I sometimes also tentatively refer to as a “spoiled American problem”.) It really helps put life into perspective and is a great tool for gauging if something is truly an issue or simply a superficial nuisance. I bet there are billions of people in other countries who would kill to be in a crowded limo because it's heated and would provide a roof over their head. Heck, they’d kill to eat one square meal a day. 

Just this morning I pulled on a new pair of jeans and became instantly frustrated at how long they were. The first pair I initially unwrapped on Christmas morning bled dye all over my skin and had to be returned to the store.  Now the new pair I exchanged them for have too much fabric and need to either be hemmed or cuffed.  Ugh, what am I supposed to do? Put on super high heels with these jeans every time I want to wear them? When I got to work I began drafting a less than chipper mail to Clayton, venting my annoyance that none of my clothes can ever fit properly and how it was a huge waste of time to have to drive all the way out to the mall in the first place to exchange a brand new pair of pants that was bleeding blue dye all over everything and heck no was I going to drive out there again and …

First world problem.

I deleted the email before I sent it. 

Don’t believe me? Check out first-world-problems.com for more examples of why life isn’t really as bad as we like to make it out to be. Sure, we do have legitimate, serious struggles—disease, divorce, unemployment, and the like—but do we really need to keep making mountains out of mole holes? Was paying full-price for your Ugg boots really the national crisis you’re making it out to be? Is your GPS really the “piece of technological s**t” you’re claiming it is because it temporarily lost its satellite signal? Honestly?

I just love that this is James Van Der Beek
 [Last 4 images from thechive.com]

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3 comments

  1. Hehehe Great reminder, Courtney! The last one reminded me of me except it would be "over the sound of my beautiful, healthy baby whining because he would rather play with me than his dad". A blessing!

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  2. This is awesome. Steve & I always simply say "first world problem" to each other when whining begins. "I have to get out in the cold to pump gas into my warm car." - most recent example.

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  3. The most recent example of first world problems in our house: "We have no room in our cupboard for our new dishes."

    :)

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