I attended a workshop yesterday as part of Korbel’s Center on Rights Development’s (very well-done) annual Symposium. During the workshop the presenter showed a video which, at first, seemed like a lighthearted way at getting the viewer’s attention. It was video of young Haitians in impoverished settings reading off a list of “first world problems”.
I hate the first world problems meme. It’s insulting to the poor it tries to defend and unfair to the Westerners it accuses of whining. The meme confuses petty concerns that everyone has with so-called “first-world” concerns.
I hate it because it encourages the reader to think of the poor and rich in the most one-dimensional way. Poor people are capable of having petty concerns as well as appreciating subtle comforts as much as the wealthy are. Rich people are also capable of suffering and loss.
The result of splitting up the world between first and third is to emotionally disassociate ourselves from each other and breed absurd feelings of guilt (I speculate that the rise of obesity in America over the last 20 years is related to binge-eating caused by unnecessary feelings of guilt at living in relative comfort. It’s possible!).
On an unrelated note, both the wifi and cell reception in the private study rooms at DU’s new library are kind of spotty. What’s the point of a sound-proof room if your Skype and cell phone can’t get reception?