What the Hell Is A First World Problem?

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I was recently involved in a conversation that revolved around my overall rhetorical question “what the hell is a first world problem?” Expecting a more intellectual response, I was not delighted to hear that one of my friends interpreted it literally. I was minorly annoyed by their demotion of my intelligence and said so in a manner of whit. Hopefully it didn’t blow over their head.

But I was even more overly perplexed when the response of someone whom I consider sort of a contemporary of mine, used the iPhone as indicitive of socio-economic status. And they clearly defended their position. I tried to convey the notion that it was not so, that even though there are millions of starving people in Africa, many of them have cellular phones and some of them even have iPhones. They called me obtrusive. That hurts.

Obviously, my opinions are not meant for simple three minute conversations, or should be discussed at the dinner table, because twice this week I have been labeled a fool and ridiculed because of my peculiar way of bringing everything together. People get impatient with my cyclical nature of countering their every argument with a deliberated and heated statement. They all together get up and leave, causing me to be the loser of the debate. Because everyone knows that he who does not debate is the winner.

Of course I have considered their condition. That tends to happen when they try to shoot at you. Of course I have deliberated about those less fortunate then myself. That tends to happen when you spend evenings without food. Of course I have thought about drug dealers – that tends to happen when one lives down the street.

It’s all the same shit. Greed, corruption, lies. Playing a trickle-down effect. Just because I haven’t been to AFRICOM doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen the same shit. Due to OPSEC I can not release any more information on this subject.

But damn, when I’m talking about the hilarity I find in certain peoples, I’m not going to entertain poor arguments. If your argument is flawed, I am going to tell you. Using the iPhone as representative of socio-economic status simply is not feesable. Their is no such thing as a first-world problem.

There are problems of certain scale, but there are certainly no such thing as “third world problems” either. There are just problems. Problems exist. Anyone can face the same problem, and by the stroke of a pen or the firing of a weapon, entire nations can catapult themselves into states of unrest or eternal utopia. The only difference between the “north” and the “south” are the abilities of people in those places to overcome their systemic problems. Not their individual problems from person to person, but their systemic problems on a national scale. People in the USA have overcome problems not unlike those faced by the inhabitants of Somalia, but due to innovation and thrift, America has prevailed where Somalia is just catching up. (And yes, I also know about Somalia – I am actually one of the WWU IR Department’s resident thinkers on the subject.)

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