So-Called “First World Problems” and a Little Bit of Privilege

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June 17, 2013 by gabnormal

Okay, so maybe a lot of privilege. That’s neither here nor there in this conversation.

Or is it?

The idea of privilege is fraught with irritations and annoyances for me. Let me start by saying that I understand the concept of privilege and I understand that by being a white, American female, although I face issues revolving around women’s rights I do, by and large, benefit from my whiteness and my American-ness.

That being said, I fully agree with this article. Essentially, the concept of “first-world problems” and usage of the phrase needs to end. Yes, I understand that things could be worse. I could be living in a third world country. I could be persecuted for my religious beliefs. I could be forced to dodge snipers every day on my walk to work while police sit idly by and laugh at my misfortune.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t. And the fact that I may not have it as bad as other people does not mean that 1) I am not allowed to want a better life than the one that I have, or 2) that my problems are irrelevant and should be trivialized due to the fact that there are millions of people that have it worse.

Because really, if you want to think about it, the idea of first-world problems could be attributed to anyone’s problem. People who have problems are at least alive, so shouldn’t that homeless person be grateful? They’re complaining about not having a home, or food, but at least they’re not buried six feet under ground like all those people in the cemetery down the street.

And if you think that previous statement sounds ridiculous, you would be 100 percent correct. As in Harris’ article, cited above, there are only problems, and their contexts. It’s rude to tell someone that their problem isn’t important as someone the ones that belong to someone else. Yes, if you are complaining about something it is good to take a look and see if you really ARE complaining about something trivial, just so that you don’t become an obnoxious, ungrateful brat. But comparing problems is pointless. You are not living another persons life, so why compare problems?

When life hands you lemons, evaluate those lemons and see how sour they are. Then act accordingly. It’s okay to be annoyed that your Wifi internet connection isn’t working, even though there are millions of people without internet access, or even a computer. It’s okay to be irritated that the barista who took your order effed it up and overcharged you by a dollar, even though there are people who have never had the money for a fancy cup of coffee in the morning. And it is okay to be aggravated with your job, for whatever reason, even though there are many unemployed people who would kill to have a job in the first place.

The key to this is to be grateful for what you have, realize that you have it good, but always strive to get it better. At least that’s how I see it.

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