First World Problems to the Max

Douglas Coupland writes a lot about middle class experiences and the proclivity of the middle class toward creating or honing in on problems that, when given certain scrutiny, are in fact not really problems at all.  (He’s Canadian by the by.)

When this proclivity toward bemoaning certain mundane problems is part of the main culture of a given country, like the United States, or CANADA (and of course, not everyone participates, sure), this movement can be classified as First World Problems.

First World Problems are ridiculous, funny, humbling.  And honestly, the other thing is, First World Problems actually do suck.  Like the fact that all of my friends have had to deal with me publicly working through my anger and frustrations via Facebook about my technology curse I picked up a few years ago, must really suck for them.  The technology curse sucks for me, so I could only imagine having to hear about it all the time.  Having a technology curse is a First World Problem (and for some other Worlds that are beginning to see the increase in cell phone but not an increase in cell towers, they feel me on this.)

What I love about First World Problems is the space they occupy in our lives.*  They are ipso facto problems; layered problems; Kafka. What I mean is, the very problem stated isn’t of interest, but more, of how the individual categorizes and gives life to each of the problems.

There are many people on the spectrum complaining about First World Problems.  I mean, it’s a spectrum, spectra are wide, and deep and multi-faceted.

Here’s a short example of some folks on the spectrum:

A) People who actually, truly, really complain about particular problems in earnest such as their housekeeper not doing a good job, or flipping out about scratches on their city car.  I recognize those are real problems for some people that cause them great angst.  I probably judge these people.

B) Then there are the folks that complain about scratches on their car, or talk about having a housekeeper, and almost while they are stating their frustration, they simultaneously joke about how ridiculous they sound.  “I know that I’m lucky to even have a car in the city, and scratches will definitely happen, it’s just that this is the first nice car I’ve ever invested in…but, whatever, scratches happen.”  And then they go off and volunteer somewhere.

C) Let’s not forget the folks that complain about nothing and inhabit the end of the spectrum, or, are to the very right on a standard deviation chart.  1) If these folks DO complain, it’s probably in the context of complaining about a problem they are already trying to solve.  “Ugh, I’m so frustrated that I can’t get more people to VOTE.  It’s so important.”  “Yeah, that sucks.  But why are you ignoring saving wild animals?  Don’t you think you should do more for them and quit whining about how you’re failing at getting people to vote?” The original FWP complainer acquiesces and goes and joins the WWF; and 2) The people on this end of the spectrum are probably in the leprechaun family of not existing cause I ain’t never witnessed anyone like this before.

I write all of this for two reasons, well, three:

1) I just feel like enumerating things.  It keeps me linearish.

2) I would love to hear about your thoughts about First World Problems and people on the spectrum, and finally,

3) I have just experienced a First World Problem so horrible, I had to blog about it.  I’ll tell you the story later.  I’m still processing.

*Please refer to my post where I talk about my triggers.  Often, when I hear the words, “I love…” I almost always automatically say it in my mind the way Jay from “Clerks” says it when he says, “I love women!”


About reginadma

Hybrid Socialist dedicated to helping the community.
This entry was posted in Stories real & true & made up and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to First World Problems to the Max

  1. Kelsey says:

    “…and then they go off and volunteer somewhere.” That should be the required response to first world complaints. Most of my FWP’s involve lattes. Nobody’s perfect.

  2. Pingback: Changing Your Diet…? | Hybrid Nation

  3. Think MPS says:

    To joke about how ridiculous one sounds (re #2), I worry, is a weak-sauce defense mechanism against being grouped with #1 (see “take-back defense,” Freud), and is enabled (encouraged?) by the cynical environs of *current* culture (i.e., it’s not cool to be earnest). It’s trying to have cake and eat it too.

    Is there also a group who use #fwp as an outlet for problems they can’t solve? Like if you can’t handle X, you might instead focus your anxiety on a and b and c, which don’t even add up to a fraction of the importance of X but they’re safe and understandable and small enough you can wrap your mind around them. Hmm. Have you read Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife… like how adults act when the Spectres are attacking them.

    • reginadma says:

      Ah, and this also reminds me of Douglas Coupland and Jonathan Franzen–being earnest just isn’t cool, first world problems. I’m actually quite simple about these things. I do not hide behind anxieties and I’m very earnest, and I’m a big nerd. I also enjoy living in America and what that affords me. I volunteer a lot to improve my community and tackle many difficult issues including reproductive rights issues, and I encourage my friends to volunteer and donate regularly to organizations that align with their values. That said, I also really appreciate the ridiculous associated with our daily lives. Some of these first world problems are actual problems as I note, but at the end of the day, they’re pretty ridiculous, and it’s fun to just point that out. Disclaimers are not always a shield, but a comic relief. Sometimes they are a shield–it depends on the author’s intent I suppose–and that’s a whole other conversation with a whole lot of other names to drop. Also, at the end of that Cartesian day, we can only live and experience our own little life truly.

  4. Pingback: Update: We’re Living in a 1940s Household | Hybrid Nation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s