Do You Have A First World Problem?

A Slice of the First World


The other night my sister was complaining that her “regular” on-street parking space had been been taken by another neighbor.  Our niece laughed and said, “Oh, what a first world problem.”  I’d never heard that phrase before and loved it.

The vast majority of our daily headaches tend to be problems that exist primarily in a relatively affluent and safe Western culture:  problems with the cable company, a car that is recalled, an exasperatingly crowded parking lot at the mall during the holidays, hassles with an insurance company, poor service at a restaurant.   Granted there are more serious problems that transcend cultures, but the every-day irritations for most Americans who live above the poverty line are just that — irritations that are attendant to life in an industrialized country.

When I read a recent blog by our temporary colleague, Mansoor Ali Khan, who is here from Pakistan on a journalist exchange program, I was reminded of the trivial (and somewhat pampered) nature of many of our “problems.”  Compared to living in a country where a drone attack can kill one’s entire family, losing one’s iPhone or getting a red-light ticket for running an intersection seems beyond trivial.

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  • Bill Garcia

    First world problem: Chicago Tonight is only on four nights a week