If I see the words 'First World Problems' one more time today, I am going to reach through the computer screen and smack the person who wrote them upside the head. First World Problems (or #firstworldproblems on twitter) is this thing that's taken the internets by storm recently. I'm not sure for how long - I probably saw it last week, but this week is when it really started to grate on me.
The straw that made me want to kick the fucking camel was a recent post on Apartment Therapy. They have an 'ask the readers' feature where you submit a question about your home and they post it and let commenters make suggestions. Yesterday, a woman wrote in saying that her and her boyfriend have a bathroom that is directly over their building's parking garage, and that her baths get cold almost immediately. Several people suggested that perhaps her floor is not properly insulated, or that she preheat the tub with boiling water.
One super cool commenter just posted 'first world problems'. That comment has since been removed.
Yes, people. By virtue of living in a first world country, we have first world problems.
THE ARE STILL PROBLEMS. I also have white girl problems, short girl problems - hell, just girl problems. I have student problems and American problems. Some of these problems absolutely have to do with me being in a position of privilege, and some don't. They are still problems.
If I were to go somewhere that hunger is currently a country wide issue, say, and then whine about having nothing to eat because nothing in my full fridge looks good, that would be tasteless and really just kind of lame. Ditto for going to some third world orphanage and then complaining that my parents didn't pay my college tuition. There are a lot of tacky ways that I could complain about things like that.
However, a statement of a cold bathtub and a request for help does not require a smack down. The author of that question didn't go to some place where they can't bathe and whine in their faces about her tepid bathwater. She has an apartment with a bathtub. (She doesn't actually say where she lives, but I think Apartment Therapy readership is mostly American with some Canadians and Europeans thrown in for good measure.) She just wants to take a bath. People take baths all the time.
When you list her problem (or mine, or Crockett's) up against hunger and poverty and oppressive government regimes, they do seem insignificant. However, that's not how problems work. Happiness seeks a certain level, and ours has leveled out somewhere above poor, hungry, and oppressed. We know, waking up, that we'll have enough to eat. That makes us lucky, absolutely, but it doesn't mean that the things that go wrong for us during the day aren't still things that go wrong.
And, as a final indignity, everyone who makes the 'first world problems' accusation on the internet HAS ACCESS TO THE INTERNET. You know what's a first world problem? Having the time and ability to hang out on line and then using it to degrade other people.