First World Problems

Is your phone battery dying, but your charger is on the other side of the room? Is your cleaner running late? Do you struggle to hear the TV whilst eating crunchy snacks? Have you eaten too much lunch and are feeling too tired to work in the afternoon?

Life is tough.

This morning I was watching Sweet Genius, a programme that is reguarly shown on The Food Network. A contestant didn’t like what she had produced and so threw it in the bin and then became hysterical because her cake hadn’t turned out in the way that she had hoped.

In direct contrast to this, we’ve just celebrated Children in Need here in the UK, an annual event designed to raise millions of pounds for those who are disadvantaged and in need of help. Friday night’s programming was a huge telethon that highlighted issues such as starvation, poverty and malnutrition across the world. This comes in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines, where an antire nation of people have been left in the horror of death and destruction and are without food and water.

I had a really interesting conversation with a taxi driver on the way home from work the other day. He was from Afghanistan and he had moved to the UK about five years ago. He had a degree in geology, but wasn’t able to find a job in his chosen field and so had been working as a driver to support his wife and three children. I asked him what he thought of the UK and this was his response:

” British people complain too much – it’s too cold, it’s too rainy, it’s too windy, I can’t be bothered to go to work, I’m tired, I’m hungry… always miserable. In my country there isn’t running water and hospitals are poor, but people are happy.”

I’m very proud to be British, but I have to agree a little – we have developed a reputation for ourselves as being a nation of complainers. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve been standing in a queue (yet another British trait) and listening to somebody tutting and huffing because the service isn’t quick enough, or whining about their doctor, the fact that the bus is late, they can’t get a mobile phone signal, their iPad is broken, or bitching about somebody that has said something to upset them. Looking back over my own posts I am certainly guilty of this, and I sometimes have had to be reminded (thanks Pete) of exactly how lucky I am.

Our problems are always relative to our situation. However, in more priviledged countries we take for granted the basic necessities and therefore develop almost a sense of entitlement to things that millions of others across the world pray for daily. These expectations have resulted in the development of First World Problems… Even Maslow’s Heirachy now needs to be extended to incorporate our basic needs.

Here are other First World Problems that lots of you may have experienced:

My earphones are tangled in my bag.

I fell asleep on the massage table.

The supermarket didn’t have my favourite brand of Brie.

My car stereo isn’t MP3 compatible.

I can’t fit my PS4 next to my other consoles on the shelf.

My iPad is too bright.

I put too much water in my cous-cous.


I keep trying to text at red lights, but I keep hitting all the greens.

It’s too hot outside but the air conditioning is too high inside.

I’ve chipped my nail polish.

My hotel room doesn’t have wi-fi.

I had to open my door at a drive – through.

I missed the postman and now have to go all the way to the Post Office to collect my parcel.

The batteries are dying in the remote control.

My wallet is too small.

I’ve used up all my lives on Candy Crush

I’ve just broken my designer sunglasses.

My bechemel sauce won’t thicken.

I have really bad tan lines from my holiday and now can’t wear a strapless dress.

I don’t want to go on holiday abroad with my family.

It certainly made me think about my life and privileges. What about you? Do you have any First World Problems? Do you think we spend too much time complaining? I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy Sunday!


56 thoughts on “First World Problems

  1. Great post. When I first heard the term First World Problems a couple of years ago from a guy a thought, yeah, that about sums it up. Reblogging this, loved it. 🙂

  2. Only three TVs on the machines are working in my gym.
    If we buy a one-bedroom in the area we want to live, I’ll end up having to put most of my stuff in storage.
    Why does Starbucks always run out of my favourite breakfast wrap by the time I get there?
    Yeah, fine, there’s WiFi but it’s too slow!
    He likes to listen to the radio when he gets up whereas I prefer morning TV…

    Oh, you’ve opened a can of worms! I see your point.

  3. After many, many years on this planet, I have learned to “make do.” If I don’t have something I think I need, I learn to substitute or do without it. If something annoys me, I can either fix it or let it go. It’s called adapting to the circumstances. Sure, I worry from time to time about money. There were years when I had enough, and no more, to survive. There were other years when I could afford a luxury or two. I think the most important item to alleviate complaining is love….of family, friends, work, pets, nature. That endures.

  4. I agree with you, but not specifically about the British. I think all of us from developed countries take too many of our luxuries for granted as if they are our divine right. Like having a WiFi signal almost everywhere is our biggest worry!

  5. I think British complaining is largely limited to southerners. I very rarely hear any major complaining here in the north. Then again, we don’t have a lot. The number of people up here living in a home where they can’t afford food, water, electricity, heating and the like is not only considerably higher than the south it’s staggeringly alarming. Certainly one of the worst regions for that in Europe. In my town, the primary schools regularly collect food for the thousands without any in homes across town. We have bigger issues than tangled earplugs. My town’s very survival is at a constant state of risk. We don’t complain much. We’re very proud we’re still standing. Always nice to remind oneself of perspective.

  6. Great blog. I agree with Phil too, I think in the developed world so many of us (but not all) are crowded up in the comfort zone, where the choices and the problems are frankly trivial in the grand scheme. It’s good to be reminded. Thanks.

  7. Great piece. It’s all about perspective isn’t it. No-one can choose where they are born, and just as a developing country may value their one lightbulb, we use resources that are around and plan our lives around them, so no wi-fi isn’t life and death but it could lose you a job if an important presentation depended on it.

  8. I’m retired US Navy, and the world didn’t really slap me in the face in this way until I was involved in Bosnia conflicts in the 1990s. I flew up until that point, a very impersonal way to view the world – and wage violence. But when you come face-to-face with poverty, devastation, and want for just about everything, you simply have to change your perspective.

    I have also traveled extensively, and have seen the best in people in just about the worst conditions possible – Haiti after massive uprisings and near-civil war. East Timor after their civil war and genocide. Bosnia and that entire region after years of fighting and genocide. And Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka after the tsunami of 2004-2005. It’s amazing that people of what we consider the 2nd and 3rd worlds can be so happy with so very little.

    In fact, I too was moved to write about this topic, but from the opposite POV. My blog was titled “Power in Poverty,” and it focuses on how happy Thais and Cambodians are with so very little. It’s really impressive to see, and to truly account for it, one has to experience it first-hand.

    Thanks for the blog!

  9. Great post! My mom immigrated to the US. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my worst day at work is still better than my mom’s best day working in the fields. Immigration is a hot topic here. I heard an interview with an author who was asked about his take on the issue. His response is perfect, “who wouldn’t want to live in a country where even the poor people are fat.” Thanks for the perspective.

  10. Very true- and you Brits aren’t alone. I hear/am guilty of the same sort of thing all the time here in Canada. Perspective is everything- and it”s necessary to view the world outside of our own narrow lens now and again. Lovely post.

  11. This is perfect! I just wrote a post “The Complaint Epidemic” along the same lines but from a US perspective. Great to see others are seeing a need for change, too 🙂

  12. Three weeks ago I ordered a dress in two sizes online in the USA. In the package was a letter with a return adres in China. So without looking on the site where I ordered them in the first place I sent the smaller dress back. Once in the mail I read on the site I should have printed a ticket with extra information first. Now I’m guessing I never see the dress or my money back :o(
    Note: Every time I go shopping, I ease my guilt (because I buy things I don’t realy need) by giving up to euro 10,- to street musicians ^_^

  13. I think about this all the time. Especially now that it’s Christmas. My mom always tells me “it’s going to be a skimpy Christmas this year, don’t expect much” but there’s always a ton of presents, and I typically get things that I did not even ask for, meanwhile, families who live below the poverty line, or whose parents are dealing with medical crises can’t buy presents, or even provide a traditional “Christmas feast.” I have somewhat of an idea to know what it’s like to not have what other kids have, but I look around and see an abundance of blankets, a warm fireplace, both of my parents, and food on the table, and I know I”m one of the lucky ones. Your posts are very thought provoking.

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