While browsing the popular link aggregating site Reddit one day I found a link to a tumblr blog called “First World Problems” and while I went seeking humor I came away from the experience feeling just a little blue. I gave it a little more thought and realized we who have the ability to get to such a blog and read it are some of the more privileged in the world.
The idea of the blog is that it is submission driven and posts problems people report that are strictly “First World” in nature. The general submission to the blog will be something that the submitter has been denied that he or she feels should not have been denied. A simple example would be “The ice cream shop ran out of rainbow jimmies so I had to get chocolate instead” or “The concert was sold out online so I had to go to the box office and buy tickets that way.”
In other words, these are all problems that in no way endanger the health, safety, or sanitary living conditions of the submitter. Rather, they are inconveniences that are annoying at the time but forgotten not too long after they occur. Contrast this with having your only water supply be infested with malaria carrying insects. Not nearly so much a problem in comparison.
This got me to think about how, despite writing an article years ago vowing to fight against it, I still take many things and people for granted. When I have to wait a couple of extra minutes for a subway I sometimes get annoyed. When the subway train gets delayed because of “train traffic” it irritates me, particularly when I have a cranky baby at home that needs just a little extra love. Sometimes I even get upset when a particular beverage I like is sold out or I do not do well while playing a video game.
So many of the things that bother me have no substantial long term consequences and are trivial when compared to real world issues such as famine and the global AIDS crisis. It is nice to get a laugh at submissions on the First World Problems blog however it is good to consider reflecting on our own issues, those in the world around us, and what we can do to help with these problems if it is possible.