Sunday, February 3, 2013

"First world problem"

The First World Problem phenomenon is a way for white Melburnians to appear worldly without having to think about the world. "First World Problem" has got nothing to do with global inequalities. It's just about making yourself feel better when something mildly annoying happens - like having to drink a soy latte made with So Good (aka So Bad).  "First World Problem" is way more versatile and a lot less lame than "Make Poverty History". Especially because you can use it without having to spend any money.

People will be wearing "First World Problem" tshirts made in Third World sweatshops before anyone does anything to help the Third World. But hey, at least it will provide jobs right? Without having to resort to redistribution or just consuming less, is there even enough energy and resources available on Earth to solve Third World problems? How is it possible that people in the Third World starve while their land and water is used to grow luxury items like chocolate and coffee? This doesn't just happen. It takes work. But we never talk about this.

But aren't First World Problems Third World Problems too? Don't people in developing countries still care if their football team loses? Or do they tell themselves "this loss doesn't matter to me because my nation's elites are hopelessly corrupt". People work boring jobs all over the globe. Or do people living in slums just say - "since I lack access to clean drinking water and functional sanitation systems I'm completely satisfied with my dull job"? Do traffic jams bring smiles to the faces of commuters in Hanoi or Kampala because their criminally low wages make them immune to frustration? A jammed photocopier in Monrovia would still be annoying! White Melburnians make it sound as if complaining is only for the rich. But anyone can do it. It's the great equaliser. White Melburnians should stop trying to make complaining into an elitist activity when it's really the one thing that unites us all. We, the world, should embrace it!

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