First World vs Third World Problems

In today’s imFirst-world problem (2)mensely diverse world, it can be expected that everybody’s standard ‘problem’ is different; each person’s values are somewhat skewed in comparison to those of anyone else. An interesting extension of this theory can be applied to the notion of first world and third world problems. Third world problems, as compared to their first world counterparts, are regarded as more serious and urgent. They are usually derived from problems dealing with the most basic of human needs and human rights; namely, food, water, education and shelter. This greatly contrasts first world problems, which highlight the minuscule frustrations felt by more fortunate people.

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In social media, the hashtag #firstworldproblems has become quite the popular phenomenon. People all over the world use this hashtag in order to express the irony of its message. On Twitter, for instance, an update such as “Just got my iPhone 4S a week before the iPhone 5 came out: to buy or not to buy #firstworldproblems” is not uncommon. On other social networking sites such as 9GAG, the ‘Third World Problem Meme’ has also been gaining momentum, whereby the problems of people living in third world countries are turned into a form of satirical hilarity. Arguably, this meme has been perverting the very serious third world problems,making these real-world issues become relevant to today’s pop culture in an insensitive manner.

In reality, the underprivileged children living in third world countries will value food, water, and even the slightest gesture of kindness, while sadly, many privileged kids will choose instead to value the latest gadget or best brand of jeans. It is evident that, compared to those underprivileged third world children, our problems seem quite superficial. They value most what we sometimes take for granted.

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It is definitely arguable that these memes and social media phenomena somehow ridicule and belittle the problems of those who struggle to survive day by day. It is important to remember that as the privileged, we have a duty to help those who do not share such luxuries. Instead of ridiculing and bastardizing the situation of the unfortunate, instead of reducing their heartbreaking problems to simpljokes for the fortunate, we should take action and help.

Article by: Mavi Cruz

Photographs by: Ramya Srinivasan

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