First World Problem

Today I read an article about how Facebook has a tendency to smack us in the face with information that honestly is best hidden; for instance, wedding pictures of an ex that ripped out your heart, pictures of happy families enjoying an awesome Disney vacation when you are struggling to make ends meet or news from close family or friends about something that you feel should have been made aware to you of way before the world of Facebook knew about it.   It was an interesting article and raised some great questions about our “need to know now” reality (click here to read the full article from CNN).  However, it wasn’t the article that truly got me thinking, it was a comment that someone made about the article.  They labeled the article a “First World Problem.”

A “First World Problem” is something that I have heard many times before and have used that term often in my life.  We live in a society of plenty, whether we want to believe it or not.  We talk about struggling to make ends meet due to a recession because we couldn’t afford the lifestyle we had grown accustomed to.  Did we really need the big home or expensive car? It was nice to have but if the economy has taken your cash, you need to get rid of the car. First world problem!

Recently, I decided to get another cable box in our home because bizarre circumstances recently had ripped our living room apart and the only cable box that we had (all the other rooms were just hooked up to the wall) ended up in my bedroom.  I couldn’t part with the box and its recording capabilities so I got another one, but forgot to ask for the DVR digital box and hooked it up to the main TV in the house. The kids went insane because it wasn’t the right box and now we can’t rewind and pause. First world problem! 

Here in the office, we are generously given an unlimited supply of soda.  Got to keep us caffeinated!  Periodically we run out of a certain favorite soda and mass hysteria ensues.  First world problem!

The vacation that you meticulously planned suddenly changed destinations because the first one proved to be too expensive, so now it is postponed.  First world problem!

As I wrote this blog post, a co-worker (and co-writer of this post) pointed out that there was a song that spoke about this very thing.  Since I am not a regular listener of MC Frontalot, “First World Problem” wasn’t exactly on my musical radar.  

Misplaced the Ambien (first world problem)

Left a participle dangling (first world problem)

You’re scheduling your root canal (first world problem)

Your grad schooling had no rationale (first world problem)

You didn’t like your appetizer (first world problem)

Your yacht got capsized (a first world problem)

It’s amazing the things that we complain about or that we allow to be an inconvenience in our lives on a day to day basis when there are so many who wish they had the problems that we do. I wonder sometimes what would happen if we stopped to consider the third world person who could desperately use a root canal because they are in the same amount of pain that you were in (probably more since they didn’t have the convenience of taking an ibuprofen) as you whined about your upcoming procedure.  Would you be more thankful to the little problems that we seem to have?  What would you do with your enlightenment?  The Dali Lama believes in peaceful, desire-ridding meditation to keep one grounded, but I want to end with the wisdom of Mom and the perspective that she offered us on a nightly basis around the dinner table when you refused to eat the plate full of food.  She told us that there were starving people in Africa tonight that would be grateful for the meal that she had provided.  There are starving people in Africa and I am grateful for what I am fortunate to have.