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AIBU to loathe the term 'first world problem'?

(23 Posts)
Thatsinteresting Wed 16-Oct-13 20:08:11

I have been reading an article about women not having the birth they hoped for and someone has commented that it's a first world problem. I do completely understand that the priorty must be the safety of mum and baby but is it so wrong to ask for more?

I see the phrase used all the time about everything. Can't choose between a kit kat or a twix? First world problem. Can't boil the kettle because you can't top up your electricity until tomorrow? First world problem. It doesn't matter what the problem is, it's always first world.

AIBU to ask people to stop using it?

LeBearPolar Wed 16-Oct-13 20:12:57

I'm torn - on the one hand, it's annoying to have problems dismissed or scorned because they seem quite minor in the great scheme of things, but on the other hand we do sometimes need to get a bit of perspective. It's easy to get caught up in the materialistic culture and forget that we're not actually entitled to things just because we want them.

LynetteScavo Wed 16-Oct-13 20:15:37

YABU, unless you have an alternative way to describe such problems. Would you prefer Modern Day problems?

I got in a tizz last May about whether to serve Champane or Prosecco at a party.

Bloody stupid of me. I am privileged to have such a problem in my life.

My first two births in clean, safe hospitals were not what I'd hoped for. My babies were alive, and healthy. I was left feeling sad. Definitely a first world problem.

miaowmix Wed 16-Oct-13 20:17:30


slightlysoupstained Wed 16-Oct-13 20:18:29

I read a really good response to it from someone in a "third world" country pointing out it's also really teeth gratingly annoying for him, do people honestly think that if everyone living in a developing country is all so noble & struggling that they never get frustrated with minor issues?

brightonbythesea Wed 16-Oct-13 20:19:25

I think YABU. It is simply people recognising that something that is not their ideal has happened to them, but many other people in the world have it much worse. I don't see the problem with the phrase!

slightlysoupstained Wed 16-Oct-13 20:25:26


Suzietwo Wed 16-Oct-13 20:29:45

Totally not unreasonable

Infuriating social tick

DoJo Wed 16-Oct-13 20:29:59

It's just the new way of saying 'there's always someone worse off than yourself', or 'chin up, things could be worse'. There are plenty of people for whom the definition of a problem is pretty shallow and entitled even by first world standards, but it doesn't hurt to take a moment and consider whether the issue at hand is worth getting worked up about when you are comparatively lucky to lead the life you do.

Spirulina Wed 16-Oct-13 20:31:28

You can't expect people to stop using an expression just because you personally dislike it!! Who is going to listen to you?

EverybodysStressyEyed Wed 16-Oct-13 20:32:52

I agree with slightly. It is almost dehumanising to suggest people in third world countries aren't complex enough to worry about more than basic survival.

I hate the expression and much prefer my grandad' phrase 'worse things happen at sea'!

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 16-Oct-13 20:35:22

It's just a polite way of saying your 'problem' is really petty in the grand scheme of things.

BecauseYoureGorgeous Wed 16-Oct-13 20:37:13

You can loathe it all you like. YANBU to do so. But asking people not to use it? Definitely unreasonable IMO.

Beamur Wed 16-Oct-13 20:37:22

I don't mind it, I'd use it to describe a trivial issue (like the time DP told me off for not replacing the sun dried tomatoes) but it does have some judgemental overtones, so maybe YANBU.

DontmindifIdo Wed 16-Oct-13 20:39:46

ah, the answer is: "your broken leg is worse than my stubbed toe. However, the fact that you having a broken leg doesn't stop my stubbed toe from hurting."

"First world problems" is a real bug bear of mine, it's a way of saying "I don't care" while trying to take the higher ground that because you've referenced the fact that some people in the 3rd world have bigger problems, you get to say you don't care about the person in front of you while trying to make yourself look like you are actually a more caring and thoughtful person than them. If you feel the need to dismiss someone else's problem as a 'first world problem' you are not only saying "I don't care about your problem" but "I don't care and I like to show off that I think I'm a better person than you".

Basically, the phrase "first world problem" is only ever mentioned by someone who is a smug twat.

CoffeeTea103 Wed 16-Oct-13 20:41:03

Yabvu, even by the nature of your post, it is a first world problem. You obviously don't have a grasp of what it's really like. You would be ashamed to even have posted something like this if you knew what it's like.

Moln Wed 16-Oct-13 20:43:37

The only true 'first world problem' in your It, It, is the twix or kitkat one AND it's only be it if the person making the choice really though it was a dilemma.

dexter73 Wed 16-Oct-13 20:44:01

I read this a while ago and found it very interesting - here. He feels the phrase is false and condescending which I agree with.

BecauseYoureGorgeous Wed 16-Oct-13 20:44:04

I don't know why anybody would let something like this wind them up, yet it does seem to.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 16-Oct-13 20:59:21

I agree, the statement is loathsome. Not only is it using out of date Cold War language specifically designed to portray non-Western countries in a poor light, but it makes the presumption that anything beyond the West is complete and utter poverty and their people all some sort of noble poor monolith with who only suffer and suffer "real" problems.

There are people living outside of the West who do have mobiles and computers and vehicles and do find it annoying when they lose their chargers, or they freeze up, or their expensive possession get broken or lost, and get annoyed when the bus is late/bumpy. Just as human and frustrated with things as people in any other country.

CackleCackle Wed 16-Oct-13 21:01:58

I saw this term used today in fact! On an off topic slingy page I am a member of on Facebook.

I agree the term is a little annoying.

Not as annoying as the actual 'problems' that came after.

But I guess that's the point....

Thatsinteresting Wed 16-Oct-13 21:03:09

Because It's not something I lose sleep over! It's just as Don't mind says it's a way of people quickly dismissing your problem while attempting to sound superior because they have a grasp of what 'real' problems are.

Coffee I'm sorry if you're offended. I think you may have mis-understood the nature of my post I am definitely not making light of problems here or in other countries. I am saying that I think by constantly using that phrase for any level of problem people cheapen genuine problems (such as not having electricity) as they are all getting lumped in together. I also think this is a developed country we should be striving for more, just as developing countries should. Finally, I also think it is insensitive to those actually in third world countries.

slothlike Wed 16-Oct-13 21:06:49

I came on this thread to say what slightlysoupstained has said. Aside from that, it's pretty stupid to think that people should never feel upset about anything other than, say, war or famine, or that being dismissive of a problem will necessarily help to solve it. I agree that thinking "it could be worse" can sometimes be useful, but certainly not always.

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