Lamenting Our “First World Problems”


Every now and then i find myself spinning out about some sort of ridiculous challenge that is impeding my ability to function as a happy healthy human and then at some point hit a rock in the road, trip over my own ridiculousness and realize that what I think are debilitating issues are really , from a socioeconomic and anthropological perspective, what we call “first world problems”.

I’ve broached this subject, albeit briefly, once before in a blog listing out some “rich people problems”  but found myself coming back to this discussion lately and thought I would add a few more to the list.

In this case, these are things that really really stress us first-worlders out, often not realizing in the moment that if these are the sum total of our issues, we have it pretty good compared to the rest of the world.  For example:

” I bought that luxury car and now my car payment is so high that I can only take one ‘nice’ vacation a year and can’t afford to redo the bathroom.”

“My work schedule (at my six-figure-income job)  is so busy  that I can’t make time to get to Pilates / get in my Cardio.”

“it’s such a pain in the ass to find a restaurant that has soy / gluten / vegan/  msg-free options that I might as well just cook.”

“I can’t find designer jeans that I can buy off the rack without having them altered and it really affects my self-esteem.”


“I can’t for the life of me figure out what to blog about today and i don’t want to let my readers down.”

I could go on but I think you get the point.-  which is that when we take the time to consider our privileged first-world context we understand that, on the hierarchy of honest-to-goodness needs,  we’ve go them pretty well covered.  So when you find yourself losing perspective, remember that first comes first and your first world privileges already have you well ahead of the pack.   “Mo money, mo problems” kind of falls flat when you consider the big picture.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, middle class, Narcissists, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Lamenting Our “First World Problems”

  1. i like the way you write.i hope you work out your “rich ppl problems” 😉
    i make due with my poor ppl problems lol

  2. Pingback: First World Problems: Part Deux | The Narcissistic Anthropologist

  3. Hi. I’m from a 3rd world country and we usually make fun of those things called “first world problems”, mostly comparing them with third world problems (e.g. my food tastes bad — first world problem; my food is non-existent – third world problem). We usually come up with funnier ones than the one I gave out as an example. By making fun of it, I guess, we make things less tensed.. But although I am from a third world country, I am from a middle class family (which is why I can afford the internet) so part of me experiences first world problems, the other part experiences third world problems (e.g. little to no facilities in the university and now that I’m teaching, no classroom). The first world part of me agrees very much with your last paragraph. It may be that I could only afford one luxury food spree every year in my university life, but other people can’t even eat 3 times a day, which is why social equity and more opportunities for the poor are some of the calls of the university where I’m from. In relation to problems, I’ve always wondered if depression is related to economic status. That people who have more have more tendency to become depressed. I don’t know, I haven’t explored this yet. Sorry for the long comment. Have a good day!

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