When you hear the words first world problems, what are the first images or thoughts that you associate with them? Is it the sight of people yelling at helpless employees for a mistake they could not have avoided? Is it a feeling of annoyance when seeing pictures on social media where people have carefully documented their discourteous actions towards circumstances that seem almost unnecessary for others to read in the first place?
For me, I think of the Weird Al Yankovic song titled specifically after the issue. In a mere three minutes, Yankovic describes the frivolous nature that people with these “problems” are embodying. However, the question becomes focused back on the root issue behind these over-exaggerated problems; what are first world problems and are they actually problems or simply a way to complain by showing off our spoiled selves?
First world problems can be described as people, most often from an elevated status, who complain about their lack of a certain aspect, despite the fact that they are able to receive this aspect in the first place, unlike people that may not receive that luxury. An example of this might be the lack of a fancy design in a Starbucks Latte or being served a smaller portion of a meal rather than a normal portion.
Rather than to appreciate being able to afford these luxuries and having access to them at all, the focus is instead shifted onto what is not presented to them. At the same time, people in other countries are starving and freezing to death from their complete lack of any kind of these luxuries that first world citizens can take advantage of easily.
Associated with these first world problems is the concept of waste. When we find that we are not given exactly what we expect or more, we may choose instead to throw it away. An example of this would be getting a food that we did not order and rather than simply eating it anyway, the food is thrown away, making more waste than anything else.
What about the people that are associated with first world problems though? Should these people be seen solely as narcissistic? Should they be criticized for expecting a certain service to be provided to them if they pay considerable amounts of money with specific expectations of such service?
This should not be confused with asking if people should be criticized for voicing themselves on how they would expect a service to be held, rather than those who would complain about a smaller, almost to the point of insignificant, commonly vain request about a service. The latter pinpoints a flaw in the most miniscule of judgements, while the former is simply a matter of expectations.
Where is the line drawn between expectation and complaining about the problems and can they be defined as problems in the first place, however? Most would consider a problem to be an imminent issue plaguing its victim to the point where they are hindered by it.
Can getting a smaller portion of food at a restaurant or having to buy more objects to qualify for free shipping online actually be considered a problem at all? Many people have a constant need and desire for more once they realize what they could be receiving. It is a desire for things as well as having the best things around. When they do not receive these things as they hope, tempers run high and they resort to social media to rant their feelings to the world.
The term “first world problems” itself has become an internet joke, where people caption pictures such as a girl who got “the wrong iPhone for Christmas.” This has turned the phrase from obvious narcissism into a joke that is spread across the internet for laughs. We take advantage of this internet sensation in order to take the blame of our selfish nature off of ourselves.
When it comes to “first world problems”, they are often as frivolous as the person making the demands. While most of us resort to sitting back and ignoring the issue, no one can doubt its prominence in society today.
Whether it be for the purpose of opinion or simply complaining, perhaps we do need a song like Weird Al Yankovic’s “First World Problems” to point out the foolish nature of our narcissism. Especially since some are so quick to jump to them in the first place.