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No, *You* Are a First World Problem
December 11, 2012 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Could we possibly stop using the phrase "first world problem?"

Latest example to come to my attention, but, really, is there any time when it isn't pretty much "your trauma sucks" with an extra helping of mocking the afflicted?

Maybe this just hit home because it's the end of the semester, and I work with students, many of whom are very stressed out. However, the tactic is always pernicious and sneering; yes, there are plenty of people in the Third World who have enormous problems caused/compounded by unequal resources, global economic/political maneuvering, religious/ethnic/cultural issues, and so on, but are those problems so great that people in the First World should just shut up because their issues and traumas are not "worthy" enough? People feel what they feel and suffer what they suffer, and glibly belittling that is not really helpful. If you are not engaged by any particular problem, maybe making your own FPP about a problem that interests you would be more productive? Because nobody wins in the Misery Race.
posted by GenjiandProust to Etiquette/Policy at 7:41 AM (296 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not suggesting that the reverse is true, either. MetaFilter is a big site with a lot of eyeballs and opinions. It's not like we can't discuss problems from all over. In fact, we usually manage to do so on a regular basis.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:42 AM on December 11, 2012


I agree. Any knee-jerk way of dismissing anyone's trauma or stress is to be avoided. Even if the person really has it good in the great scheme of things, a quick take down is not going to get them to realize that is the case. I think some of the impetus for this comes from the desire to teach someone a lesson which is sort of inherently suspect.
posted by shothotbot at 7:48 AM on December 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think it is a useful phrase. But like any version of "is this really such a big issue?" it has its time and its place.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:51 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been a long time since we have had a new phrase around here that we all more or less agree upon to like. It's bumming me out.

(Can we make that our new problem?)
posted by iamkimiam at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


is there any time when it isn't pretty much "your trauma sucks" with an extra helping of mocking the afflicted?

When it's a bouncy slice of synthpop?
posted by ludwig_van at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it is a useful phrase.

It implies some pretty unpleasant things about the life of people in the third world, which is becoming less and less acceptable. Someone who lives in Ecuador or Uzbekistan can have interpersonal and social issues or a thorny relationship with the objects and tools and creature comforts in their life.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [49 favorites]


I always wonder why all these honest-to-goodness heroes complaining about our lack of global awareness are spending their time complaining on the internet instead of digging more wells and establishing more free clinics. I mean, I assume they're all posting from blighted little villages, because otherwise it sure is precarious to try to balance apathy on top of unearned moral superiority.
posted by griphus at 7:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


I think First World Problems started out as a way of people self-labeling their 'I can't get the background image on my iPhone to be just the right color' kinds of issues -- essentially, I have this awesome thing but it's not quite perfect. It was useful then for people to mark out that they recognized that their concerns were trivial.

It has expanded to encompass any problem that might be suffered by people who aren't poverty-stricken, and to be used for labeling other people's problems.

Self-awareness of your own trivial concerns, good. Labeling other people's legitimate concerns as trivial, not good.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:00 AM on December 11, 2012 [140 favorites]


I'd like to help with this cause. To whom should I write the check?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:00 AM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's dismissive in a fairly snarky way, and I've been reading MeFi long enough to know that our members can do dismissive and snarky a lot better than that.
posted by Mooski at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I feel, in the example you linked, that they're using the phrase wrong.

It's suppose to be a self depreciating poking at oneself. That you realize that your problem is minor, in the large scheme of things/when you compare it to other people.

It's a good social media phrase, where you complain about your daily life's struggles. Not a good phrase to label or judge other people.
posted by royalsong at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but the usage you linked to is using it wrong. MIT students under pressure is not a "first world problem." A "first world problem" is that you can't reach the remote on the coffee table with the big bowl of chips on your lap, but you really want to change the channel.

This is like someone taking the unhappy hipsters meme, throwing it on a picture of someone with a terminal illness, and then someone else taking umbrage at the fact that non-hipsters can be unhappy, too, and are being marginalized.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:03 AM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Geez, all this carrying on about what phrases we can and can't use sure sounds like a problem only for people who live in large industrialized countries with high Gross National Product and high rankings on the Human Development Index, amirite?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'd like to propose a new phrase: "New World Problem". Then I can feel good about smugly dismissing everything Americans say.
posted by pipeski at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


First World Problem is annoying, but it is supposed to be reserved for trivial shit. My iPhone ran out of battery and so I had nothing to read while waiting for the bus? First world problem. I'm stressed out as hell because college had made me question my meaning of self? Not first world problem, just problem.
posted by aspo at 8:05 AM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Self-awareness of your own trivial concerns, good. Labeling other people's legitimate concerns as trivial, not good.

This is where I come down on this. Making fun of yourself and properly contextualizing your own issues is a decent self-reflective thing to do. Applying this to other people, strangers, when the context of the discussion is "These people are having a really hard time" seems unkind and uncharitable. Or, as I like to say here often hopefully without sounding too sanctimonious "Everyone's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle"

I find this phenomena sort of hand in hand with comments that are basically only "Well I don't have any sympathy for them" No one really asked you. The downside to online (as opposed to real life) community discussion is the impression that comments like "Who cares" are adding anything to the interaction. The WWIC is strong in this one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on December 11, 2012 [35 favorites]


Also, I am from the Soviet Union and feeling a bit left out at the lack of Second World Problems:

"Breadline administrator ran out of ink for the stamp. I have to memorize the number #secondworldproblems"

"May Day parade is blocking off my route to the beet processing plant #secondworldproblems"

"KGB agent is hiding behind curtain in my office, claiming to be 'hidden microphone' #secondworldproblems
posted by griphus at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2012 [152 favorites]


Yeah, I think it has at least some small value when used to mock yourself for things like "I have too many fancy expensive electronic devices under my teevee and the wires are all tangled, which makes it difficult for my cleaning lady to vacuum! how will i liiiiiiiive?"

I guess in this instance it could easily be replaced with 1% problems.
posted by elizardbits at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with #FirstWorldProblems.
posted by purpleclover at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


It implies some pretty unpleasant things about the life of people in the third world, which is becoming less and less acceptable.

No, it doesn't. Context is everything. As others have said, it is for trivial stuff like "they ran out of organic gingerbread syrup at Starbucks." It's about obsessing over details or issues that don't really matter anywhere.

Also: you linked to an FPP I made to show me how things are changing in the third world.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:11 AM on December 11, 2012


No bubbles in the soda cup (first world problem)
App crashed when you loaded up (first world problem)
Phone's OS is outta date (first world problem)
Colors won't calibrate (first world problem)
They never stock the snack you want (first world problem)
Caught herpes from a celebutante (first world problem)
posted by bondcliff at 8:12 AM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


But like any version of "is this really such a big issue?" it has its time and its place.

You know, I'm not sure. I have a neurological issue that affects my vision. It's mostly not debilitating, except in brief moments. I have some friends with MS. hey have it much worse than I do. One of them, when he's having a bad day says "well, I could have ALS." This is positive because we are realizing it about ourselves, putting our own problems into perspective. If, on the other hand, while I was in the throws of an attack, some helpful person with a fully functioning brain told me that I should be thankful because I don't have MS, and really, compared to MS isn't my problem minor, I might be tempted to hit them, if I could see them.

I am not sure I have ever seen the term used in a self-reflective manner on MetaFilter; it always seems to be belittling someone's legitimate trauma.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Am I remembering incorrectly that when that meme first started, it was "white people problems"? I've always thought it was interesting that people were so uncomfortable talking about white privilege that they changed the expression to one that would implicate their neighbors along with themselves.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm familiar with the "white whine" meme alongside this one and then of course we had Stuff White People Like which I think is a different sort of thing, but no less problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2012


Yeah, but saying white people problems feels weird when you are a minority making fun of yourself for experiencing laughable problems related to your own various acknowledged privileges. IME anyway.
posted by elizardbits at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


When it's a bouncy slice of synthpop?

A sad and touching bouncy slice of synthpop, you mean. Neat little song. I like that it never uses the phrase in question.
posted by mediareport at 8:22 AM on December 11, 2012


Came in here to link to the same thing purpleclover did above, but in case you don't bother clicking it, it's an article about Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole's tweets about the term:

I don't like this expression "First World problems." It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn't disappear just because you're black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here's a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.

One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion's technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don't wake up with "poor African" pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is--quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [45 favorites]


I've been reading MeFi long enough to know that our members can do dismissive and snarky a lot better than that.

If you've got time to dismissively trivialize another person's angst but you don't have time to step up to the plate & do so with some panache or originality instead of copy/pasting a worn out trope, that itself is a First World Problem.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:29 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Griphus, you should roll with #secondworldproblems on twitter! Those are funny, man!

And I agree with the majority here that one should never use "first world problems" to belittle someone else's experience. I am also familiar with the critique of "first world problems" presented above, and also explored more humorously with the recent "Africa sends its heaters to Scandinavia" post, which I can't find.

Personally, I've become a bit more circumspect about using the term—I've moved on to the less inflammatory "This is worse than Auschwitz!" to describe my mundane disappointments and discomfitures.
posted by Mister_A at 8:30 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here you go.
posted by Jpfed at 8:37 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I only had one pie cutter, which was all the way in the dining room curio so I had to use a chef's knife to cut some cheesecake because I wanted it right then. We since have procured a less fancy daily use cutter for the kitchen, but that piece of cake stuck to the knife a little bit. True story.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:38 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think First World Problems started out as a way of people self-labeling their 'I can't get the background image on my iPhone to be just the right color' kinds of issues -- essentially, I have this awesome thing but it's not quite perfect.

I think that's true and the difference between me using it to say I realize this is a minor issue in a universe which end in cold uniformity billions of years from now and someone saying it at me is like the difference between me making a joke about my dad at his funeral and you making one.
posted by shothotbot at 8:40 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


At its very best, it can be a call to count your blessings. It rarely is, though. Don't think I'd use it past the first person, either.
posted by boo_radley at 8:40 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


reddit:
first world problems
second world problems
third world problems
fourth world problems
fifth world problems with FPP
future world problems
ancient world problems: "GF ate an apple that our landlord said not to. Now we have to move out." & "Sailed too far out. Fell off the edge of the earth. FML"
Ancient First world problems:"Some upstart carpenter is claiming he's the king of the Jews...but I'm the king of the Jews."
mesozoic world problems: "I can't celebrate Christmas because it won't be invented for at least 65 million years. "
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:41 AM on December 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Yeah, it's definitely an expression I'd only use about my own experience with something, and not seriously either.
posted by rtha at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


At NAMI Connection support groups, one of the principles you have to agree on (by a show of hands) when each meeting starts is "We do not judge anyone else's pain as less than our own."

Great principle, man.

I probably got the exact phrasing off a bit. They have a poster in the room to refer back to, which actually makes it harder to get the details right when the poster isn't there. For example, while sitting in your living room posting to MetaFilter.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 8:57 AM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Louis CK's "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy" shtick is a great example of "first world problems" applied to other people; I don't think you're limited to using it reflexively. I don't use it on other people because I'm not Louis CK, but there you go.

I can't find a link to the video, which has been taken down most places for copyright reasons.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2012


Louis CK's "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy" shtick is a great example of "first world problems" applied to other people;

Well, it is and it isn't. I remember an interview he gave where he said that the jerk complaining about the trivial inconveniences of life was himself, and he just externalized the narrative because it plays better.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can believe that.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2012


It kind of goes like this: "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."
posted by Lynsey at 9:30 AM on December 11, 2012


And then I met a man with no feet being eaten by a grue, and that first guy just seemed like a malingerer. #firstworldproblems lol
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:34 AM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


jacquilynne: "Self-awareness of your own trivial concerns, good. Labeling other people's legitimate concerns as trivial, not good."

Oh man. That is a fantastic comment, and sums up my feelings on the matter more succinctly than I ever possibly could.

That said, I'm a tiny bit conflicted about this. There are definitely times when externally-trivial issues can actually be really stressful to the person having them, for reasons that are internally coherent and valid. Then, there are also times when people really just need to just chill the fuck out, because the stress has grown into a much larger problem than the original issue*.

*And, yes. This has definitely happened to me.

I still haven't figured out a good way to separate the two cases, or a tactful way to talk to someone who's experiencing the second. Seemingly-trivial questions come up on AskMe all the time, and I never really know when it's appropriate to say "You really need to stop stressing out over this," because we really do all have our own personal set of issues...
posted by schmod at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2012


Could we possibly stop using the phrase "first world problem?" - Yeah, that whole privilege discussion is getting pretty old. Begone!
posted by Ardiril at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2012


Has one of these threads ever resulted in the collective banning of a phrase? People are going to say what they want, regardless.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2012


Has one of these threads ever resulted in the collective banning of a phrase? People are going to say what they want, regardless.

This is an awareness raising exercise. No one is talking about banning a phrase.
posted by shothotbot at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


True, but then it's more of a collective exercise in establishing boundaries than a proper old political correctness (seventies ironic leftie version) session.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2012


Could we possibly stop using the phrase "first world problem?"

I've had just this thought recently and it has nothing to do with offensiveness or privilege or anything like that.

The reason we should drop this phrase is that as a meme it has run its course and moved from endearing to annoying. It has worn out its welcome. It is now the metaphorical equivalent of relatives and dead fish. It is a comedian saying "What's up with airline food?" It is Gangham style in another month. It began during the U.S. presidential campaigns and should have stopped with them. It is the post Obama career of Orly Taitz and the birther movement. This meme ate my balls. All of its base belong to us. It is a Friday with Rebecca Black. It rickrolled me. IT IS SPARTA! It planked and bounced on hotel beds. It couldn't find the beef and was RICK JAMES, bitch! It ate our shorts and didn't have a cow. It posted first. It was pwned. It was the third girl with one cup.

Last but not least, it danced with a dancing baby to a song that need more cowbell.

So please, move on. Let it die a peaceful death while we get on with our lives.

Thank you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sounds like a first world problem to me....

Seriously though, "could we possibly stop using . . . " sounds like a call to police language, not an awareness raising exercise. Forgive me if I have misinterpreted.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, we could raise awareness that "first world", "third world", etc are considered demeaning terms themselves that fell out of fashion some time ago, at least to those in academic circles, relief organizations, the UN, and institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. The problem is that they imply that some nations are intrinsically superior while others are third rate, to be cordoned off into their own "world" and excluded from the global economy, from access to modern technology, and from having any societal influence. Like someone said above, it's not as if people in Liberia don't also have to deal with mundane hassles.

The three world terms originated in 1952, where first/second referred to nations aligned with the capitalist and communist sides of the cold war. The "third world" consisted of countries where the economic model didn't matter, because there was no wealth there to begin with.

The person who coined them was French economist Alfred Sauvy, who was making an allusion to the French Revolution. In 1789, France was split into three states: the royalty (Marie Antoinette), the clergy (Roman Catholic Church), and the "third" state were the peasants. The implication was that while capitalists and communists were fighting for their own concerns, the forgotten peasants of the third world were being crushed underfoot, which would eventually lead to an inevitable uprising and rebellion. So the state of these countries/peasants was as much a consequence of their exploitation by the rest of the world as from any of their own actions and matters under their own control.

The modern respectful parlance is "developed nations" and "developing nations". These labels have their own problematic subtext, however they do reflect that these nations are the best source of growth in the world economy and that the distinction is in a state of transition rather than being a permanent divide.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


Are we still using "Global South"?
posted by griphus at 10:08 AM on December 11, 2012


jacquilynne: "Self-awareness of your own trivial concerns, good. Labeling other people's legitimate concerns as trivial, not good."

This is absolutely my feeling. It's funny and appropriate when you are talking about yourself, mean and dismissive when you're diminishing someone else's concerns.

Dawkin's take on Elevatorgate is a particularly egregious example of downplaying the "less serious" concerns of non-Third-world women.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:13 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Very nice, ceribus. Thanks!
posted by Mister_A at 10:13 AM on December 11, 2012


but, really, is there any time when it isn't pretty much "your trauma sucks" with an extra helping of mocking the afflicted?

And that might be a concern in AskMe, but on Metafilter, we're not obligied to protect the feelings of someone mentioned in the link.

The three world terms originated in 1952, where first/second referred to nations aligned with the capitalist and communist sides of the cold war. The "third world" consisted of countries where the economic model didn't matter

Then why did the first two worlds fight over them? It was simply that those nations were not aligned to any particular spot on the capitialist/communist spectrum, not that they didn't matter.
posted by spaltavian at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2012


Lynsey: "It kind of goes like this: "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.""

So I stole his shoes.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2012


While we're at it, we could raise awareness that "first world", "third world", etc are considered demeaning terms themselves that fell out of fashion some time ago, at least to those in academic circles, relief organizations, the UN, and institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

Yeah, this is my issue with the phrase. It's not that there's anything wrong with realizing that something one is kvetching about is trivial in context, it's the assumption that anyone living in the developing world lives in a constant state of survival without any little joys, annoyances, or issues that people from the developed world could relate to. I don't think people who use the phrase are shallow or thoughtless, but it suggests an idea blithely dismissive of the fact that people in the developing world also have first world problems.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:21 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'd like to propose a new phrase: "New World Problem". Then I can feel good about smugly dismissing everything Americans say."

All these premolars take so long to brush!
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


My dream mod would delete any comment that consisted solely or mainly of this expression on sight.

(As an aside, on any community even remotely connected with creativity, anyone who says "you have too much time on your hands" or any near cognate thereof should be instantly permabanned without recourse or review.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:36 AM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


anyone who says "you have too much time on your hands" or any near cognate thereof should be instantly permabanned without recourse or review.

I wish I could find it again, but I once saw a great, incisive rant about just how dismissive and insulting that phrase is. I had never really thought about it, and used it casually like everyone else, but since then I really don't. There are much more civil ways to say "your interests and mine differ."
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:40 AM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think we just need someone to photoshop a bunch of little clocks (or perhaps watches?) into this and post it every time someone uses that phrase.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"your interests and mine differ." is wonderful. I will be using that.
posted by bongo_x at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I can say is that trying to decide whether to have some raw whale blubber or a tasty caribou eyeball is a fourth world problem.
posted by spitbull at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2012


I agree with Tell Me No Lies. This phrase is a hot mess that should be thrown under a bus. My bros and I stopped reading the Tumblr for it in, like, 2011.

That said, I don't think it was ever intended as a cogent moral/political analysis of global realities or that people need to cite Gramsci to be dismissive of minor concerns of cultural elites.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:54 AM on December 11, 2012


I always thought "First World Problems" were things that were unambiguously not problems, like "I went to the bathroom, but forgot my smartphone and now I'm bored." Using it to describe actual problems is bad form.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:57 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree. It's dismissive and annoying. People in the "first world" do actually have problems, and I don't think it's necessary to hold everybody's personal struggle against the yardstick of child soldiers in Liberia.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 AM on December 11, 2012


Ahhhhhhh r_n!! I have also read / heard that rant, and cannot recall it. Argh.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:13 AM on December 11, 2012


Was it Stephen Fry?
posted by lazaruslong at 11:17 AM on December 11, 2012


All I can say is that trying to decide whether to have some raw whale blubber or a tasty caribou eyeball is a fourth world problem.

I am reading Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine and while there has not yet been a description of anyone eating eyeballs (though that may come!) I am pretty sure I would choose whale blubber if given a choice. Penguin sounds okay, too.

(Also, reading it makes me think more than twice about whining that I don't want to walk three blocks in 60-degree drizzly weather to pick up burritos or pupusas for dinner, so yeah, perspective!)
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, "could we possibly stop using . . . " sounds like a call to police language, not an awareness raising exercise. Forgive me if I have misinterpreted.

The question was "Could we possibly stop using the phrase 'first world problem?'", not "Could the mods please stop people from using the phrase 'first world problem?'"
posted by Lexica at 11:31 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I prefer to use the phrase, "A my-diamond-shoes-are-too-tight-problem."
posted by xingcat at 11:39 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was the "too much time on your hands" comment this or maybe this?
posted by Jpfed at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2012


Mumm-Ra's on the rampage and Lion-O can't save us because Snarf has lost the Sword Of Omens #thirdearthproblems
posted by comealongpole at 11:47 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I first encountered the term from a friend of mine whose husband was dying. Six months after they were married, when he was in his early thirties, a lifetime of binge drinking (he had been sober for a few months) plus an unfortunate metabolic defect caused his liver to fail spectacularly, followed in short order by his other organs. He was on life support, in a coma, on the transplant list. It was a dire time.

I had just listened to her calmly and logically explain what was going on, updating me on his condition, on all the machines and medications they were using to keep him alive, the way they were using the fact of his metabolic defect to let his time in the coma "count" procedurally towards the amount of time he had to be sober in order to qualify for a new liver. (His drinking was the immediate cause of his liver failure, but without the defect it never would have happened so young.) After talking about this completely rationally for twenty minutes, she stubbed out her cigarette and said "Speaking of petty first world problems, they discontinued my lipstick" and then burst into tears.

Those MIT students? They don't have first world problems -- "the training required for my chosen career is stressful and hard, and I don't know if I have the capacity to pull it off" is a universal problem. The girl sobbing into her pillow because of an unrequited crush doesn't have a first world problem; "I like a boy and he doesn't like me back" is possibly one of the most universal problems of all time. First world problems, imho, aren't trivial problems, they are problems that are caused by abundance. "I can't fit all my child's clothes into her closet" is a first world problem; "I have so many shoes that I forgot to wear these and now they're out of style" is a first world problem; "I have more devices to charge than I have USB ports" is a first world problem.

But yeah, above all, I think it's a term best used by the person with the problems. Otherwise it's just assholery. Assholery shouldn't be banned, but I don't really think it should be encouraged either.
posted by KathrynT at 11:48 AM on December 11, 2012 [38 favorites]


I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man #SexAndTheCityProblems
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:49 AM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


That idiot Kalibak deleted the Word doc where I keep the anti-life equation #fourthworldproblems
posted by griphus at 11:50 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Caught herpes from a celebutante (first world problem)

Pretty sure catching STDs is just a problem, with nothing first world about it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Darkseid's remorseless hounds stalk me across the warrens and alleys of Apokolips! #fourthworldproblems
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nthing the proposal. It's just noise.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2012


"I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

And then he beat me at the 400m Olympic qualifiers anyway and I felt REALLY sorry for myself. #SouthAfricanTrackAthleteProblems
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think anytime someone wants Metafilter to change its speech, they should come up with a several reasons why the particular word or phrase is damaging. They should also include several examples showing its negative use and the damage that occurred from said usage.

This particular request doesn't rise to that threshold and its single example uses the phrase incorrectly. Everyone has pet peeves and those peeves aren't shown to be damaging to others, they should probably be kept to oneself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:28 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone can see into my living-room #fourthwallproblems.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


Someone griefed my furry meetup #secondlifeproblems
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


This job at the merry-go-round testing facility wasn't all it's cracked up to be #firstwhirledproblems
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just confused Kal-El and Kal-L #earthtwoproblems
posted by brain_drain at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep trying to fit all these into the meter of the MC Frontalot song and failing. It's driving me mad.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:41 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone opened up the ark and now our faces are all melting #fifthsealproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in love with the Duke of Illyria but he thinks I'm a dude #twelfthnightproblems
posted by neroli at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


This creepy dude is totally crushing me at chess #seventhsealproblems
posted by en forme de poire at 12:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


All these dead people keep telling me about their unresolved psychological issues. #sixthsenseproblems
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's not worth John Lithgow #3rdrockproblems
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two Popes #oldworldproblems
posted by Eideteker at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Keep dive-bombing this asshole's car but he STILL won't leave my nest in the gutter alone. #birdworldproblems
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


My CD of Peter Gabriel's Passion is all scratched and keeps skipping #worldmusicproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Black Death #oldworldproblems
posted by Eideteker at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh no, it's the Dark Ages! #oldworldproblems
posted by Eideteker at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


guys i've also heard the phrase "spice world problems"
posted by Eideteker at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Killed by first goomba #world1-1problems
posted by lrobertjones at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Stupid Mangalores destroyed Leelo's spaceship #fifthelementproblems
posted by Mister_A at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I can't find the big W. #madmadmadmadworldproblems
posted by bondcliff at 12:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Magog's making us drink SoulStorm #oddworldproblems
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on December 11, 2012


I took a leak in the subway and electrocuted myself #thirdrailproblems
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


All out of Soma, Oh. My. Ford. #bravenewworldproblems
posted by briank at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Killed by first goomba #world1-1problems"

ran out of time #minusworldproblems
posted by Eideteker at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012


This movie sucks #coolworldproblems
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm having to do original market research for this completely new product #firstmoverproblems
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2012


I are #firstpersonproblems
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


I just confused Kal-El and Kal-L #earthtwoproblems

See, I was really expecting this to be:

"I got cancelled much earlier even though I was probably a better show than Seaquest DSV", but I realized that would be #earth2problems
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A train left the station going at 45 miles per hour #firstwordproblems
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Created the world and all of humanity, but the morons can't manage to prove I exist. #FirstCauseProblems
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


A signal outage is a better show than Seaquest DSV #netflixproblems
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's what happens when things get real #realworldproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


IF YOU'RE HAVIN' FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS I FEEL BAD FOR YOU SON I GOT---

i'm sorry, i'll show myself out
posted by entropicamericana at 12:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Internet Anagram Server is ruining my comedic timing #blimpworldfortress
posted by griphus at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Terrified of singing animatronic dolls. #itsasmallworldproblems
posted by octobersurprise at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Don't know how to pronounce Ypres #firstworldwarproblems
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


I don't think it's necessary to hold everybody's personal struggle against the yardstick of child soldiers in Liberia.

The thing is that that trivialises the life of whoever you're using as a yardstick. Even though life is undoubtedly hideously bleak and traumatised for a child soldier, it's very dehumanising to say that everything they do is unremitting misery. An essential part of the human character, and something that everyone should have the possibility to express is the ability to bring spots of light into the bleakest environments.

Everyone has the right to define their own problems and sometimes the description of their own problems is the biggest controllable thing in someone's world. It's important not to trivialise other people's problems by thinking you can describe them.
posted by ambrosen at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Terrified of singing animatronic dolls. #itsasmallworldproblem

That's less of a problem and more of a survival instinct.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no arms, legs, ears or eyes. I will die if my skin dries out and I get paralyzed if I'm exposed to light for too long. #earthwormproblems
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


This moose shaped oven mitt would get me free Amazon shipping, but it's not eligible, and now I just sort of want it. #problemsimhavingrightnow
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2012


The line for Space Mountain is so long!!! #DisneyWorldProblems
posted by aught at 1:15 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aerosmith is in my breakfast nook! #waynesworldproblems
posted by bondcliff at 1:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Noble enough to win the world, but weak enough to lose it. #newworldmanproblems
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Want more sex before I get old. #worldenoughandtimeproblems
posted by octobersurprise at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The agony of defeat. #widewideworldofsportsproblems
posted by bondcliff at 1:18 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Moose out front didn't tell me. #walleyworldproblems
posted by Kabanos at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember MCI? #obscureworldcomreferenceproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:20 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Society is burning me up, take a bite, spit it out. #worldupmyassproblems
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:21 PM on December 11, 2012


Paul Schaefer hates me. #worldwidepantsproblems
posted by octobersurprise at 1:23 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're wearing that as well?
#securityOfTheFirstWorldProblems
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know's on third world. #whosonfirstworldproblems
posted by Kabanos at 1:26 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


ermahgerd #gersbermpsprerblerms
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Need a fire extinguisher quick pls hlp kthx #idontwanttosettheworldonfireproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2012


I need to deliver this message from Ankh-Morpork to Sto Lat before the Clacks transmit it. #discworldproblems
posted by bakerina at 1:28 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces #madworldproblems
posted by gauche at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


I go to all this effort to set up a theme park of death traps and the X Men just trash it all.
#murderworldproblems
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel fine. #itstheendoftheworldasweknowitproblems
posted by gauche at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Made it, Ma! Top of the world! Just wish I wasn't sitting on this huge canister of natural gas! #underworldproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just like humpty dumpty, I'm going to fall. #sittinontopoftheworldproblems
posted by gauche at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2012


I've got 16 ounces #problems
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


My life is just work, home, work, home #thirdplaceproblems
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:35 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kate Beckinsale slaughtered everyone I ever knew. #underworldproblems
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only explanation I can find is the love that I've found ever since you've been around #I'montopoftheworldproblems
posted by gingerbeer at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everyone's making plans for me #nigelmustbehappyinhisworldproblems
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Robbie Williams nicked my pig and killed it #worldpartyproblems
posted by Catch at 1:45 PM on December 11, 2012


Holy wow I've had the lyrics wrong for that XTC song forever!
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2012


I'm not asking you who's on second! Who's on first. I dunno! #thirdbaseproblems
posted by davejay at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a surreal Australian comedian whose tv show on Wednesday nights on the ABC is magnificent plus I have thick and luxurious moustache #samsimmonsproblems
posted by h00py at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2012


I made all these great rich friends on a cruise but I still drowned because the door wasn't buoyant enough to support both my girlfriend and me. #i'mkingoftheworldproblems
posted by Burhanistan at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


When will Bowie finally give Cobain credit for a great song? #manwhosoldtheworldproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2012


I can't get the bra unhooked! #secondbaseproblems
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm pregnant with my evil twin sister's secret amnesiac husband's baby. #astheworldturnsproblems
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The sentiment is fine but the song is dreadful #wearetheworldproblems
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


disclaimer: I am not actually Sam Simmons.

Also, my entry in this illustrious competition wasn't actually a problem so I guess I'm disqualified.
posted by h00py at 1:50 PM on December 11, 2012


Mommo? Mommu? Mommer? #firstwordproblems
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


People always, always, always mix us up with the lamer, bigger version of us in Orlando. #DisneylandProblems
posted by SMPA at 1:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got so sick after bingeing at Octoberfest #wursthurledproblems
posted by SugarAndSass at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I fabricated my royal background, the vizier is out to get me, and the cleaner lost my magic carpet. #icanshowyoutheworldproblems
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


My fox and mink stoles keep getting tangled #furstwirledproblems
posted by SugarAndSass at 1:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


No one likes the wrap dress anymore! #vonFurstenbergproblems
posted by Mister_A at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm soooooo hungry #thirdworldproblems
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012


Pluto got demoted to dwarf planet & it's goddam cold there! #lastworldproblems
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012


Neptune really doesn't know where things stand anymore. #penultimateworldproblems
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:01 PM on December 11, 2012


The photo's beautiful and I've thought of some enigmatic text, but the whole effect's not quite disturbing enough. #asofterworldproblems
posted by ambrosen at 2:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Venus will dissolve you within seconds -- before it can boil you. #worstworldproblems
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012


Colorado Springs, China Sea, Chickenshit! #Hearstworldproblems
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2012


I'm stuck wearing this goofy cap in all these horrible adverts! #everywheregirlproblems
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2012


my house gets all hairy. #werewolfproblems
posted by Namlit at 2:04 PM on December 11, 2012


Can't get motivated to do anything, unless there is a nookie. #durstworldproblems
posted by Eideteker at 2:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thank you GenjiandProust, I have always absolutely HATED this expression. It's so obnoxious and condescending.
posted by désoeuvrée at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know that Nick and Jess are going to end up together. #newgirlproblems
posted by Rock Steady at 2:14 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


All my friends are dead. #finalgirlproblems
posted by Rock Steady at 2:15 PM on December 11, 2012


Vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. #tiltawhirlproblems
posted by Rock Steady at 2:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shit, Ilsa just walked in. #ofalltheginjointsinalltheworldproblems
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it's cold as hell. #fourthworldproblems
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


> The modern respectful parlance is "developed nations" and "developing nations".

The more typical modern respectful parlance in my experience is to use the World Bank classifications of low- and middle-income countries.

"Developed" is already a biased qualification, and "developing" implies progress toward that standard -- which is not always the case. And the temptation to ickily snark "developing...into what?" is apparently irresistible for some people. Ugh. Sometimes the Human Development Index is cited, but the HDI no longer labels the country itself as "developed" or not, but rather "having high/low/medium levels of human development"...which isn't necessarily better IMO, but problematic in a different direction.
posted by desuetude at 2:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't keep the damn ball on my stick...oh, sorry about the window #worsthurlingproblems
posted by LionIndex at 2:26 PM on December 11, 2012


I don't know where to get a pair of jeans to fit my butt #fersureproblems
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:30 PM on December 11, 2012


I've got to eat and play cards at the same time #fourthearlproblems
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm all out of butter #hurfdurfproblems
posted by LionIndex at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2012


Now where's the mustard? #WurstKrautproblems
posted by Namlit at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2012


Sold in packs of 5 but buns are sold in 6 #WurstBratProblems
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay that was weird.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Daria hasn't been on TV for over ten years. #sicksadworldproblems
posted by zamboni at 2:40 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, crap, we're getting chased and eaten by dinosaurs again. #lostworldproblems
posted by SMPA at 2:43 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, last week I started using #firstmatrixproblems
posted by rhizome at 2:44 PM on December 11, 2012


Having enough of a problem with people using a phrase to publicly coerce them into not using it is the very epitome of the situation described by phrase in question. ACES! ANOTHER FRACTAL THREAD!

that people in the First World should just shut up because their issues and traumas are not "worthy" enough?

No, it means that the sheer mass of whining, entitled turds all around us who go ballistic because their smart phone doesn't get perfect reception (or the heater in their SUV doesn't work quite fast enough in winter, or Twitter's down, or whatever) has become big enough that a phrase was invented to mock them.

It doesn't mean that people in 'the third world' are 'more important', whatever the fuck that means, nor does it mean that people in 'the first world' (or the second one, wherever that is) should feel that they can't talk about the real, serious problems they encounter in life, because everybody has Real, Serious Problems, no matter how goddamned rich they are.

But it does mean that some folks are tired of the incessant complaining about the mildly inconvenient minutiae of daily life.

Now, I'm going to go throw shit around my kitchen, because my coffee maker beeps too freaking loud when it finishes. Because that's a first world problem, people, and I EXPECT MORE FROM MY PRIVILEGED, HASHTAGGED EXISTENCE.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tomorrow to the Hobbit #todrinkbeerbeforeornotproblems
posted by Namlit at 2:46 PM on December 11, 2012


wait. you got shit in your kitchen? #tmiproblems
posted by Namlit at 2:47 PM on December 11, 2012


The U.S. Senate's subcommittee on tax havens is investigating the Bank of Liechtenstein. #FürstHans-AdamIIProblems
posted by zamboni at 2:52 PM on December 11, 2012


Complaining about people using using the phrase "first world problem" is a first world problem.
posted by meehawl at 2:57 PM on December 11, 2012


This is such a Metafilteresque complaint.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:57 PM on December 11, 2012


Chevy Chase kidnapped me and shot me in the ass with a BB pistol when I tried to escape. #walleyworldproblems
posted by Burhanistan at 3:01 PM on December 11, 2012


And it's always forever, forever, walking around my kingdom #worldpartyproblems
posted by h00py at 3:03 PM on December 11, 2012


I have two raids this week, I'm already tired of this expansion, and my bags are full #worldofwarcraftproblems
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poor planning has led to an unwieldy and unattractive redstone layout for my automatic cake dispensary inside my scale replica of The Hague #minecraftworldproblems #dorkproblems #amidoingthisright
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:18 PM on December 11, 2012


Made it, Ma! Top of the world! Just wish I wasn't sitting on this huge canister of natural gas! #underworldproblems

I've been able to trace the provenance of my Bobby Thompson homerun baseball back to Chuckie Wainright, but no further. #underworldproblems
posted by Afroblanco at 3:23 PM on December 11, 2012


Ghast hit my nether portal, can't get home now. #netherworldproblems
posted by Conspire at 3:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


schmod: That said, I'm a tiny bit conflicted about this. There are definitely times when externally-trivial issues can actually be really stressful to the person having them, for reasons that are internally coherent and valid. Then, there are also times when people really just need to just chill the fuck out, because the stress has grown into a much larger problem than the original issue*.

*And, yes. This has definitely happened to me.


What I find works best is to let someone talk out the trivial thing for a while, then see if I can figure out what the deeper stuff underneath is. All of the times I've seen it in others, the trivial annoyances have been masking a deeper, harder to face pain, and it's unearthing and bringing out that pain which can ultimately help.

Alternatively, if the person isn't your client and you don't have a Masters in Therapy (unlikely but possible), you can say stuff like, "Is there any way I can help?" and "It sounds like you need a break. Wanna do X with me?" where X is something you enjoy doing with the person.


Also, I now love all your twittering fools.

Is this a dagger before me? #notaswordproblems
posted by Deoridhe at 3:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aveola appoximants beak my tongue #fistwoldpoblems #badpiate
posted by iamkimiam at 3:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I, Doom, am the absolte monarch of Latveria, and I was defeated by a mere wench and her flea-ridden tree-rat. #squirrelgirlproblems
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! #umberswirledproblems
posted by iamkimiam at 4:08 PM on December 11, 2012


Everybody remembers me as Flounder in Animal House but not as Dr. Axelrod in St. Elsewhere or Vir Cotto in Babylon 5 #stephenfurstworldproblems
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:22 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Meh. By the time I get here for a thoughtful comment we've degenerated into JustOldFlopLimbs
posted by infini at 4:28 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not as cool, but I did do some tweets for a while of examples of what I consider particularly egregious examples of empty Church rhetoric under the hashtag #tritesteeplepablums.

It never really caught on.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:58 PM on December 11, 2012


Maybe I'm dumb or don't get it, but where are the spaces supposed to go?! And how many of them are there?
posted by iamkimiam at 5:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


We’ve been working on this project out in the garage, but I suspect my partner is going behind my back. #fourthdimensionproblems
posted by bongo_x at 5:08 PM on December 11, 2012


Last night, I didn't get to sleep at all #fifthdimensionproblems
posted by bongo_x at 5:10 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


These hoes go frontin on my Jimmy, I smack em on the back, sit em down, say "Gimme some rhythm" #thirdbassproblems
posted by bongo_x at 5:18 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I committed three errors yesterday, allowing two unearned runs. #thirdbaseproblems
posted by Chrysostom at 5:23 PM on December 11, 2012


Braces. #firstbaseproblems
posted by iamkimiam at 5:31 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mouth full of sap and pine needles. #firtasteproblems
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


FIRE! #Crazyworldofarthurbrownproblems
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It just takes some time #jimmyeatworldproblems
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So many tears #meagainsttheworldproblems
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on December 11, 2012


Unfortunately, I'm drawing a blank on avant jazz jokes #worldsaxophonequartetproblems
posted by klangklangston at 5:42 PM on December 11, 2012


Cindy Lauper did not check her ego at the door. #wearetheworldproblems
posted by bondcliff at 5:45 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


#helloworldproblems</a
posted by infini at 5:46 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cowardly lion, hear me ROOOAAAARRRRRR #firstaidkitproblems
posted by iamkimiam at 5:46 PM on December 11, 2012


Sheep run from lion #cotswoldsproblems
posted by infini at 5:47 PM on December 11, 2012


The more typical modern respectful parlance in my experience is to use the World Bank classifications of low- and middle-income countries.

Yeah, developed/developing certainly introduce problems of their own. Low/middle income PPP is perhaps a better choice.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:48 PM on December 11, 2012


What really doesn't work anymore and I hate seeing it being used is "Global South" and "Global North"
posted by infini at 5:50 PM on December 11, 2012


Sometimes we live no particular way but our own,
And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home,
Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone,
Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.

#eyesoftheworldproblems
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2012


Can't talk, busy hacking people's cell phones #newsoftheworldproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can't get this damn thing rolled up. #flagunfurledproblems
posted by Chrysostom at 6:12 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Knit one, knit two, wait, what? #firstpurledproblems.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fucking Sleestaks! #hollowworldproblems
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stalin is trying to have me killed #Furstworldproblems
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh-oh, the baby is constipated. #firstturdproblems
posted by medusa at 7:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


How are we flying this sausage flag? #wurstfurledproblems
posted by klangklangston at 7:14 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Duchess Kate has #thirsthurledproblems
posted by infini at 7:16 PM on December 11, 2012


How are we flying this sausage flag? #wurstfurledproblems

Nominating that one for #worstwordplayproblems
posted by gauche at 7:27 PM on December 11, 2012


What really doesn't work anymore and I hate seeing it being used is "Global South" and "Global North"

Yeah, as an Australian with friends from New Zealand and South Africa and all over South America, I always found that categorisation jaw-droppingly stupid.
posted by harriet vane at 7:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Encyclopaedia Brittanica is going to outlast us. #WorldBookProblems
posted by Superplin at 7:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


btw, this might be a derail (snort) but I finally read Harriet Vane's story and went "Aha! that's where that name is from"
posted by infini at 7:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My art is so misunderstood. #hirstworldproblems
posted by Room 641-A at 9:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, I'll never rediscover that tuning. #Thurstonmooreproblems
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 PM on December 11, 2012


Another problem with "first-world problems": people in "third-world countries" (to use the outmoded Cold War phrase) do have problems with their iPhones!
posted by John Cohen at 10:38 PM on December 11, 2012


Smartphones are the #worstworldproblems
posted by infini at 11:14 PM on December 11, 2012


Trying to concentrate on scamming multiple pantheons, but Technical Boy won't shut up about hashtags #mrworldproblems
posted by ormondsacker at 11:31 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


something something Topanga (I never watched the show) #boymeetsworldproblems
posted by ODiV at 12:07 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is an actual true thing: my dog's coat is both fine and curly, and when it grows out too much it can become knotted and twisted and becomes painful as it mats right up to the delicate skin and constantly pulls at it. When we first got her it seemed as though she had advanced arthritis, it was so painful for her to move because of this condition.

Regular haircuts and grooming resolved the issue, but without these efforts, it definitely is a fur'stwirledproblem.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:35 AM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Could we possibly stop trying to tell people how they should and should not express themselves?
posted by Decani at 1:44 AM on December 12, 2012


You want the #scotswoldproblem Decani, that's up a few threads and to the right...
posted by infini at 2:05 AM on December 12, 2012


Back arching cough?
#furballsproblem
posted by zoo at 2:17 AM on December 12, 2012


My shadow wants to escape down the whirlpool, but I kind of want to stay #endoftheworldproblems
posted by Ghidorah at 3:41 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


My uzi always slaps the small of my back when I do that one pivot move in the cage in front of Chuck D. #s1wproblems
posted by Burhanistan at 4:49 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has one of these threads ever resulted in the collective banning of a phrase? People are going to say what they want, regardless.

This is an awareness raising exercise. No one is talking about banning a phrase.


It is death of a thousand cuts, but the cuts are unicorn kisses and pony hugs. What is the end goal, what are we trying to progress towards? When will we know we are there? How aware do we all need to be such that we can just let it all hang out, without a need to check ourselves at every step?

I think that the site is becoming a less interesting place for all of this introspection and awareness raising. Maybe the punchline is that complete enlightenment turns out to be super fucking boring.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:14 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, let's not confuse collectivist social conscience constructions with enlightenment!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:18 AM on December 12, 2012


Riding Yoshi everywhere gives me terrible saddle sore. #supermarioworldproblems
posted by jonnyploy at 5:22 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Soviets are storming my bunker and this 1000-year guarantee of my Reich is doing nothing. #neworderproblems
posted by ersatz at 5:32 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


ooh you've got green eyes, ooh you've got grey eyes, holy shit, what's happening to my vision #realneworderproblems
posted by Ghidorah at 5:54 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Could we possibly stop trying to tell people how they should and should not express themselves?

If people want to express themselves in ways that are demeaning and hurtful to other people on the site we should absolutely tell people not to express themselves in that way. We don't let people use racial slurs, for example, and that's an issue of actual moderation as opposed to politely requesting that people cut it out. The health of the community is more important than letting people express themselves in one particular way. Obviously, there's such a thing as too much limitation on what people say, but this site isn't and shouldn't be a free-for-all where people are given free reign to say whatever damn thing they please.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:01 AM on December 12, 2012


I think that the site is becoming a less interesting place for all of this introspection and awareness raising.

No one is stopping you from continuing to be interesting. I understand how a moment's introspection about what you are saying before making a lazy reach for a played-out joke can be seem stifling.

What is the end goal, what are we trying to progress towards?

I like that I need to think about what I am saying and how people of different gender, races, nationalities, religions etc might perceive what I am saying about them, even if I am only casually defining them as the other. My goal is to be more charitable in understanding others point of view and kinder in my interactions with them while being honest. I do not expect to meet this goal. What is your goal?
posted by shothotbot at 6:07 AM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do! And we wanna get loaded!
And we wanna have a good time! That's what we're gonna do. Away baby let's go! We're gonna have a good time! We're gonna have a party.

posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:15 AM on December 12, 2012


Personally, I've become a bit more circumspect about using the term—I've moved on to the less inflammatory "This is worse than Auschwitz!" to describe my mundane disappointments and discomfitures.

A few years ago, a Jewish friend and I both read some article that talked about the writer's grandmother. The grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, and when she was being irked by the trivial irritations of everyday life--out of sugar, flat tire, forgot to pay a bill--she would say, "All this, and the Holocaust, too!" (I think the article was about the nature of Jewish humor.)

For awhile, my friend and I used that as a catchphrase whenever we were dealing with truly trivial problems: broken nail, iPhone battery died, no real cream for the coffee...
posted by not that girl at 6:31 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lester stinks. #beekmansworldproblems
posted by Rock Steady at 6:34 AM on December 12, 2012


If people want to express themselves in ways that are demeaning and hurtful to other people on the site we should absolutely tell people not to express themselves in that way.

While I began this discussion with a suggestion that we stop using this phrase (or, perhaps, be considerably more careful about how it gets used), I'm not so much interested in ordering people not to do things on the internet, because this seems to cause people to want to do it more, possibly to show that I am not the boss of them. However, I think it's probably worth it for people interested in communication that this particular phrase, used this particular way, is demeaning (or can be read as demeaning, since I cannot gaze into your soul and see your intent; this is the internet, after all). So, if you don't want to be seen as carelessly demeaning people, you might wish to avoid it. If you don't care, well, I am not the internet police.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:45 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not so much interested in ordering people not to do things on the internet,

Certainly. I think there's a spectrum from "saying this once gets you immediately banned" to "saying this gets a slight MetaTalk rebuke," but I was classifying it all as "tell[ing] people not to express themselves in that way." I think this thread was absolutely the right way to do this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:52 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm being chased by animal rights activists #furstoleproblems
posted by MuffinMan at 7:27 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is the end goal, what are we trying to progress towards?

Speaking purely for myself I'd like a situation in which people were more aware of how what they said was interpreted by the people they were talking to, and for the people who were making those interpretations, understanding ways in which people might mean things that were different than what they thought they heard.

One of the largest issues on MetaFilter to me is not people intentionally being assholes but people accidentally being understood as being assholes and then doubling-down on that assholishness when called out on it (possibly because the callout in and of itself was assholish, possibly because people are just weird). I'd like people to have the opportunity, if they want it, to learn how to communicate clearly and effectively with people who are different from them and understand how complicated meaning and understanding can be so that they can better navigate the minefield that is online communication with people who may be bringing completely different contextual and cultural understandings to the table.

As a mod I'm less concerned with someone who acts assholish completely knowingly and intentionally than someone who is making a good faith attempt at communication and yet consistently and predictably says things that other people find assholish. Not everyone wants to learn how to better communicate with other people, but many people do and there should be reasonable ways for that learning to happen here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:44 AM on December 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


Taz, that was literally a shaggy dog story!
posted by en forme de poire at 8:05 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


It has expanded to encompass any problem that might be suffered by people who aren't poverty-stricken, and to be used for labeling other people's problems.

I usually thought it was used to put things into perspective. Which means I usually put it as a variation of, "Well, what's the worst that can happen?"
posted by FJT at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2012


I'm about to barf and that guy won't stop the ride. #tiltawhirledproblems
posted by thivaia at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Methinks we've mislaid the colony, Sir Walter. #newworldproblems
posted by thivaia at 8:17 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Way late but: yeah, I'm non-white and I found "white people problems" more offensive than "first world problems" which strikes me as obnoxious but doesn't get my dander up as much, though perhaps it should.

That said, isn't being upset by the phrase "first world problems" a bit of a...privelegedproblem itself?
posted by windykites at 8:26 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


He who does not work, neither will he eat! #newworldproblems
When Squanto translates he makes me sound like an asshole #newworldproblems
We gave the natives blankets, and now we can't find them anywhere #ungrateful #newworldproblems
posted by klangklangston at 8:32 AM on December 12, 2012


I look like Eriq La Salle in "Coming to America." #jhericurlproblems
posted by Chrysostom at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


These fiberglass Dinosaurs are anatomically incorrect #Lostworldproblems
posted by boilermonster at 10:00 AM on December 12, 2012


JUST LET YOUR SOOOOOUL GLOOOOOW
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2012


You've got the sliotar stuck in a tree! #worsthurledproblems
posted by Mister_A at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


You've got the blood sausage stuck in a tree! #wursthurledproblems
posted by Chrysostom at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad of this callout; when these usages initially appear they may come from thoughtful people who have a real point to make in a situation that warrants it; but they get picked up by lazy people with nothing else to say who use them to score free rhetorical points, and get defined ever downward in the process. Almost immediately it becomes an empty catchphrase whose sole purpose is to shut somebody else down. Pointing it out when it gets to be epidemic is better done once in metatalk than many times in-thread per-instance; especially since the user will likely wish to defend it.

One particularly off-putting example was the phrase "I think I just threw up in my mouth a little." The first time I saw it I laughed, and it seemed like an apt usage in the circumstances. But it's really not suited to general use and unfortunately that happened. You started to see things like "the people in this thread who claim to support bla bla are making me throw up in my mouth a little". This is just all kinds of bad. Say things that are appropriate to what you actually mean, don't just collect rhetorical stones from other conversations and start throwing them for emphasis.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think I just threw up in your mouth a little.
posted by brain_drain at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to say "that made me throw up in my mouth a little" and then I stopped saying it, and then some years later I acquired a gastric dysmotility issue that turned that phrase from an overused metaphor to a really annoying several-times-daily event.

I Am Jane's Poetic Justice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


George_Spiggott has a good point "mouthhurledproblems
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2012


I actually do agree with George_Spiggott. I used to moderate comments on a blog and the only ones I didn't let through were a) obvious spam, b) that line from Silence of the Lambs, or c) references to throwing up in one's mouth.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2012


Could it be that all political arguments at bottom are over a strong fear that someone somewhere isn't doing their fair share?
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 12:48 PM on December 12, 2012


The corpse in the library: "I used to moderate comments on a blog and the only ones I didn't let through were a) obvious spam, b) that line from Silence of the Lambs"

"Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry"?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


threw up in my mouth a little

Thing is, since I'm low-carbing it just doesn't happen any more...
posted by Namlit at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2012


Wow, I completely missed this whole thing when it happened. (I don't use twitter and manage to avoid commercials). Only stumbled on it coincidentally just now as a side effect of exploring the ad campaign links currently on the front page...
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2012


That Hobbit movie is way too ... something. 48p problem.
posted by philip-random at 11:22 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just came in my mouth a little.
posted by rhizome at 12:40 AM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just threw up in my mouth a little. #tiltawhirlproblems
posted by Chrysostom at 1:17 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If God were omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, how could we account for the suffering and injustice that exist in the world? #bestofallpossibleworldsproblems
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:22 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In another universe, I have a goatee that itches #manyworldsproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:31 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The chainsaw slipped #oakburledproblems
posted by infini at 2:53 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adolf has taken all the remaining supplies down into the tunnels with him #fuhrersquirreledproblems
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


The chainsaw slipped
According to the manual of mine this would rather be #futurepeglegproblems
posted by Namlit at 2:20 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the original poster of the comment, seeing as how this discussion has evolved (or disintegrated) into the punniest damn thing ever, I AM NOT SORRY!


I posted this after I came off my 4 to midnight shift at my minimum wage job*, extremely tired, and with the Tabi post also in mind. I didn't mean to be snarky, I ironically/seriously meant that these are issues in our society--literally first world problems. Wasn't expressing myself well, and probably doing the same currently.

However, this whole thread has me laughing uncontrollable at times.
I apologize if my comment made some people ill: #posthurledproblems?


Speaking purely for myself I'd like a situation in which people were more aware of how what they said was interpreted by the people they were talking to, and for the people who were making those interpretations, understanding ways in which people might mean things that were different than what they thought they heard.
Thanks, Jess

*Yippie, at least I'm working now!
Job not being taken for granted, just resenting that I can't use my degree(s).

posted by BlueHorse at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


These two old dudes have been here all day playing "Heart and Soul" on our piano dance mat. #FAOSchwarzproblems
posted by albrecht at 9:15 AM on December 14, 2012


Three cheers for BlueHorse: once for congratulations, once for her generous and unrequired apology, once for being called out in MeTa (the badge of a veteran MeFite).

Some people say that the moderators should award purple, heart-shaped medals to those whose mild comments lead to intense MetaTalk threads. Some people add that, if we had a NEW Chief Moderator, he would give us ALL shiny medals, each more impressive and more shiny than the last. Others say, vote #1 quidnunc kid for Field Marshall of MeFi and end the stingy "no medals" policy of the current moderacy forever.

So three cheers for BlueHorse.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2012


Ahahahahahahah.
No.
posted by clarknova at 6:03 PM on December 14, 2012


I thought for sure it wasn't a "stingy" no-medals policy, just that a decent concept for a medal hadn't yet been demanded.
posted by rhizome at 11:15 PM on December 14, 2012


One of the largest issues on MetaFilter to me is not people intentionally being assholes but people accidentally being understood as being assholes and then doubling-down on that assholishness when called out on it (possibly because the callout in and of itself was assholish, possibly because people are just weird). I'd like people to have the opportunity, if they want it, to learn how to communicate clearly and effectively with people who are different from them and understand how complicated meaning and understanding can be so that they can better navigate the minefield that is online communication with people who may be bringing completely different contextual and cultural understandings to the table.

Are there like, books, that teach how to do this?

I am having to deal with some interpersonal stuff where it's so *obvious* and *taken for granted* that meaning and language are complex, but the other parties don't seem so sensitive to such complexities. If there was a book I could throw at them before we opened mouths at one another, that would be so much easier. Alas real life doesn't work that way.
posted by polymodus at 11:26 PM on December 14, 2012


Are there like, books, that teach how to do this?

I can't tell if that's a rhetorical question, but 3/5 of the basic propositions in Getting To Yes and essentially all of Getting Past No seem applicable to good MeFi behavior and perhaps to the circumstance you're concerned about. The Wikipedia articles summarize the books well enough--if you're not actually conducting a negotiation, the general points boil down straightforwardly. But there's no substitute for How to Win Friends and Influence People, because no summary does justice to its readability and pleasant anecdotes.

Although you can't throw books at other people, you might be an example for them of how well it works for you or make suggestions drawn from the books like, "Let's focus on what we want the outcome to be rather than what our positions and reasoning are."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can absolutely throw books at other people, but probably not in the name of teaching them how to communicate clearly and effectively.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:28 AM on December 19, 2012


#metaworldproblems
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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