Let’s get over the phrase First World Problems

At first I thought the term offered a good perspective and I suppose it does when a person says it about their self but nowadays when someone says it to another it means Shut up, I don’t care so I’m going to compare your problems to starving to death. Why it drives me nuts is that it doesn’t help at all it just diminishes someone looking for empathy. I like to say if you get a paper cut and I chop my hand off you don’t stop bleeding, your paper cut still stings.  The phrase tries to take away the right to complain because we live in an age where everyone wants to broadcast but not listen, to be the star not the audience. And it’s because of this need to broadcast that people like to loudly declare how they feel even when how they feel is that they don’t care. Then someone else snarks about declaring apathy and it increases the sum total of negativity in the world. And you know what, it takes more effort to be snarky than to just nod and say yeah. Listening to someone eases the little grievances and brings us closer to each other. So let’s listen and share rather than judge and just wait for our turn to talk. If our friends have little problems why don’t we offer a little help instead of trying to rank misery?

I think it goes along with the rise of middle class bootstrap self help facism. I remember seeing books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People years ago now I see articles like 8 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. One is aspirational the other heavily judgmental. I talk to 26 year olds who go to work hungover and like to bitch about 22 year old Millennials and their terrible work ethic. Or people who get angry about the facebook posting habits of others, because fb is entirely optional and if it really bugged you so much you could avoid it pretty easily. Everyone likes to talk about what’s wrong with other people to feel better about themselves but it doesn’t actually, not in the long run. You want to be happier? Stop putting other people down and admit we’re all in this together, we’re not different, and have some empathy. And if you don’t have anything helpful to say… just listen.


Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Pragmatism
One comment on “Let’s get over the phrase First World Problems
  1. shiva1008 says:

    Quality of life cannot be quantified. People in third world countries are happier in many ways, due to their increased social cohesion and simpler way of life. Although, it’s not fun living in a poor country where opportunities are limited. But that’s life. The Buddha said that all life is suffering. In the West, suffering is more psychological, and elsewhere it is more physical and immediate. So we should have more compassion and not pretend like people around us don’t suffer because we live in a prosperous country.

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