Stop Saying Firstworldproblems

The Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems is very popular with people who have never been out of the first world, but the use of this hashtag really needs to stop and here’s why:

How they think they sound:  Even though my phone is broken and I am sad, I have global perspective and won’t rest until the Dali Lama is restored to his position and Tibet is free!

How they actually sound:   My phone is broken, but at least I don’t live in one of those dirty people countries where they have to stick their head in the river to drink like Portugastan or something.

The idea is to portray that the person using it is educated about the world has a global perspective and understanding they are speaking from a place of privilege.  The effect is they prove how ignorant they actually are about the world, and that they think everyone not in Western Europe or North America is basically toughing it out in a cave somewhere pounding millet into flour on a rock. 

It doesn’t matter if the definition of “Second World” is the newer one meaning an emergent market which has per capita earnings not quite up to the standards of the Western world, but is so far removed from the rest of the third world that a distinction must be made, or the older one meaning a state planned economy, or an economy under the influence of the USSR, the point is the thinking behind the first world in #firstworldproblems  is more or less the US and EU versus everyone else .  Thinking that only Westerners have access to clean water and toys that aren’t sticks is very insulting to the rest of the world.

Hans Rosling does a great job of explaining why Sweedish college students are outperformed almost 2:1 by chimpanzees in a quiz about infant mortality in third world countries.  The professors who hand out the Nobel Prize in medicine did almost as well as the chimpanzees.

If the people at the top of the heap of the scientific community in health are ignorant enough to misjudge the quality of life in third world countries more often than an illiterate ape mashing buttons, what chance is there twitter users are getting it right?

( moving right along)

The most popular misuse of  #firstworldproblems have to do with cell phones.  This assumes that only in the first world is the cell phone a major fixture of people’s lives, despite the fact that Turkey has enough phone traffic that they have their own satellite in orbit for cellular traffic and stopped putting up phone poles in favor of cellular towers years ago.


Iran is currently importing more than 500 kilotons a year worth of phones.  We’re not sure how many handsets that equates to, but when it’s easier to measure the import of any handheld device by adding up the gross weight of the shipping containers, and the appropriate unit of measurement for said projections is a unit usually used to measure the power of atomic warheads, it’s safe to say that that device is integral to the way of life in that country.

The world demand for cellular service is growing as fast as service can keep up and demand for blackberries in the developing world is probably the only think keeping RIM afloat





Another issue is obesity is a global epidemic and the first world does not have the monopoly on crazy food.

In Canada and the UK Pizza hut served up hot dog crust pizza.  One must choose between crust stuffed with cheese or hot dog oh ha ha ha says the internet, look at all those fatass white people.

No, the middle east says we’ll raise that.  Think a hot dog in a pizza is crazy?  Cheeseburger crust, asshole


For those of you who won’t or can’t watch videos, this is not a little ground beef mixed in with the stuffed crust cheese either, actual little cheeseburgers that can be torn off and eaten.  It looks like the most disturbing pile of grease I’ve ever seen.  It’s one of those “Doesn’t even look good in the commercial” things.  While the first world version is essentially a pizza and a hot dog, this is a pile of don’t give a fuck.  This might be why on the list of most obese nations the mid east comes up so often.   

KFC US may have had the double down, the bacon and cheese sandwich that used chicken instead of bread, but in the Philippines they don’t have Atkins, so popular Fast food restaurant, Jollibee has a hamburger sandwiched in fried potato hash browns

China even ups the ante on regular fried chicken by soaking it in irish cream whiskey

 (china won’t let anyone corner the world in racial stereotypes in fast food either)

Perhaps this is the reason no two countries that have a McDonald’s have ever gone to war

There is a new cold war and it’s in trying to make the most disgusting food possible.


As usual New Zealand is trying to get in on the act to get alongside her allies, but just like the adorable flightless kiwi bird that is the symbol of their air force, they got it all wrong.   Just throwing eggs and beets on a burger isn’t going to prevent Asian aggression of insane pizzas and chicken, guys,

Too many shopping choices is another thing that often gets tagged with first world problems.  Someone is having some kind of difficulty with shopping.  Clearly in the third world everyone makes their own clothing out of burlap rice bags in Asia and wherever.
EXCEPT all of the 10 biggest shopping malls in the world are in Asia.  North America doesn’t even get a nod until #12 with the West Edmonton mall, which is technically a cheater because it’s two malls.  The US doesn’t show up until #19 with all other malls in-between also going to Asia. 

The Golden Resources mall in Beijing is so massive that it hosts over 1,000 stores.  At night when lit up it’s like looking right at the entire las vegas strip at the same time.  It’s roughly the same size as well, with 5 stories spanning 6 million total square feet, the only way to get a proper idea of its size is to see it from above on google maps. 

The mall of America, the one famous for having a damned roller coaster inside of it is nothing.  SM City North EDSA is big enough to fit two malls of America (mall of Americas?) inside and it’s in the Philippines.   It was opened in 1985 so undoubtedly some of her famous 22 million dollar shoe collection came from this monster of a mall.
File:SM North 02.jpg

No non-US influenced countries would have such monstrosities right?

Wrong.  Iran is currently finishing up on not one, but two malls with a combined size of 1,100,000 square KM.  To put that in perspective, that’s almost 7 times the size of the US capitol (the city not the building).

Concept art of the completed projects here
Twentysomethings have also decided that the West has a monopoly on partying.  This makes sense because based on the stage show of every lame b-list band ever, it’s safe to assume that every city thinks like it rocks like no other.  It is true we’re out ahead of the muslim nations, but the rest of the world is right in the running.

It’s not all Eastern Europeans sitting in poorly lit rooms drinking vodka straight from the bottle, either. 

Rio de Jeneiro has a little thing called Carnival.  It’s a party on such a massive scale that when they hear about Mardi Gras, they give the kind of cute appreciative snort Tiger Woods makes when he steps onto a mini golf course and sees the Par 4 sign in front of a hole with a straight shot at the cup. 

Plenty of people in the third world are getting down with alcohol.  In fact South America out drinks North America and Eastern Europe out drinks Western Europe.

People in the Western World imagine they are the only people in the world with somewhere to go in their car and can’t get there fast enough.  This is another “people in the rest of the world live in the dirt and ride oxen to the market things.”  These people have never been in a cab with an insane taxi driver in Juarez traffic.
Western cities are comparatively easy going because of traffic lights and roundabouts.

The “first world problem” isn’t traffic for sure.  It may even be how quickly traffic actually moves.  Consider that in Beijing the traffic jams sometimes last weeks.

New Delhi has its fair share of traffic problems and they are now considering installing bike lanes that allow rickshaws.  It’s easy to be stuck in NYC traffic and see a bike messenger whip by and think it’s a symptom of living in the Big Apple, but imagine being stuck in traffic for an hour and seeing a rickshaw whip by.

In fact, if you are reading this I promise you that your commute is better than it is for these Kenyans.

The West just has more availability of movies, and everything entertainment related though, right?  This is entirely untrue.  It’s only just now because of our internet infrastructure that we are getting more, and the rest of the world is quickly catching up.  Netflix is looking to expand into 43 countries, which include Mexico, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean islands.  Soon the whole world will have to decide from thousands of movies and will be able to complain with you about the spinny thing that says that Netflix is changing resolution because your internet connection speed has changed.

China has been leading the way in pirated DVDs.  The pirated DVDs one might find on the black market are openly sold in stores throughout Asia.  They actually have movies playing in US theatres before they go to DVD.


They tend to have thousands of titles sometimes 8 movies per disk, yet we never see tweets that say “only have enough Yuan to buy 32 movies with my allowance, but the ones I want are all on different disks #nonfirstworldproblems”  That is of course, because those tweets probably aren’t written in English and are probably on Sina Weibo.  Still it’s probably safe to say those tweets don’t exist.  Also 140 Chinese characters can say a lot more than 140 roman ones, so likely the conversation there isn’t quite as idiotic.


Throughout the world satellite dishes are also pretty widespread and they get more channels than the legitimate western pay dishes.  In “Kurdistan” the children all watch MTV and speak English, even if only enough to sing 50 cent and Michael Jackson for the change of foreign businessmen.   

Everyone has heard of Bollywood, everyone has seen the Philippine prisons where they dance Thriller.  They have everything the west has, plus things we don’t.  In reality they have more choices than most people who are going to read this. 

nothing on

  There are a ton of tweets about things no sane person could possibly think are things that only happen in the first world.  What is the thought process of someone who thinks that it’s only a pain to wait for their nails to dry in the first world?  Do they think that in other countries women are just so poor and dumpy they don’t bother to paint their nails?


In short, quit attempting to sound like someone who is aware of the world, while proving the opposite.  


4 thoughts on “Stop Saying Firstworldproblems

  1. Mira

    Some of these countries you’re comparing to the ‘first world’ are pretty developed by anyone’s standards.

    1. clintiskeen Post author


      I thought the point I was trying to make by writing this was that everywhere but the US and Western Europe aka the first world is indeed a squalid zone of shit and the people who are saying firstworldproblems are brilliant political scientists.

      I often wonder if being as dumb as people like you feels kind of good like the first few seconds of a concussion, or hurts like later symptoms of a concussion.

      1. fuckyou

        the fact that you wrote all these words about a hash tag, and your entire perception of ‘how people actually sound when they use it’…my God if you didn’t spell right I would think you were retarded.

      2. clintiskeen Post author

        “if you didn’t spell right I would think you were retarded.”

        Yet you can’t use proper capitalization, punctuation, and made “fuck you” into one word in the name field. What should that lead me to believe about you?

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