Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why I love #FirstWorldProblems

I love the continuing hashtag “meme” on Twitter full of folk complaining about #FirstWorldProblems. 

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Get the point?  It’s like flying over the Atlantic at 10,000 feet  in air-conditioned comfort over cold and life-threatening seas and complaining because your martini is not cold enough.

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Yes, they’re trivial.  So why do I like these so much? Because being trivial is the point. Because conquering the slings and arrows 0f outrageous fortune is what industrial civilisation has done so well; instead of complaining about the cold and the life-threatening, we now get to complain in public about our olives and our orange zest, and the resolute resistance of b├ęchamel to thickening when we want it to.  In short, because these are mostly teenagers with sufficient self-awareness to realise how much better their lot is now than it has been for most of human history, and enough humour to know they’re being precious about their complaints.

It’s the same reason I quite like all the complaining about obesity: for most of human history until now, the overwhelming problem was not obesity, it was famine and malnutrition. That we now have obesity to complain about is a sign that despite everything, things are ultimately still going right; that our industrial civilisation is still (against all the odds) delivering the goods.

Yes, things aren’t going right everywhere—but if the foundations of first-world civilisation were embraced in more places, fewer third-world problems would be so intractable. And yes, maybe some folk in the first world could be more careful about the goods they want delivered, but, hey, in historical terms this is but a short and benevolent blip, so maybe give them a chance to mature, huh.

And, yes, other folk could spend a lot less time trying to stop the production and delivery of all those goods—and stop trying to plunder the goods in various ways when they’re being produced and delivered—so that more may be produced and delivered, and more widely.

But isn’t it great when the biggest problem of your day isn’t arguing with a sabre-tooth tiger about your life expectancy, it’s realising you’ve put too much water in your quinoa.

I just thought we shouldn’t forget that.

4 comments:

  1. But but but we live in a Stalinist gulag! I have to wear a seatbelt! How dare you suggest our lifestyles are comfortable and we are prosperous. Next thing you know people will be linking that to public investment in infrastructure, education and health! Good God man! Who are you? Hitler?

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  2. @Judge (and you most certainly do): Are you incapable of holding more than one idea in your mind at one time? I usually avoid replying to any of your comments, as they just seem like the rantings and screamings of someone who lets the fact that they don't understand an ideology blind them to it's implications. I know you're most likely a troll and this is possibly giving you cause for excitement. Well, fine, enjoy it.

    I don't believe anyone has ever said we live in a Stalinist gulag. PC and other commenters here tend to be consistent in espousing their philosophy. It correlates strongly with reality in that the more freedom a country has, the more prosperous that country tends to be. The reverse also tends to be true. The more regulated an economy, the more poorly it performs.

    To decry regulation (and sure, often indulging in a fair bit of hyperbole - for stylistinc reasons or purely out of anger) does not at all conflict with celebrating progress made DESPITE the meddling of such regulation. After all, if you break a man's foot, he doesn't just give up and cease being productive. He'd just far rather have an unbroken foot and be more productive.

    Now please, if you can contain your need to troll, perhaps consider reading, thinking, and engaging your brain before making such silly outbursts as the one above. Debate is fine, you don't have to be a child about it.

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  3. "To decry regulation (and sure, often indulging in a fair bit of hyperbole - for stylistinc reasons or purely out of anger) does not at all conflict with celebrating progress made DESPITE the meddling of such regulation."

    You guys don't consider comparing equating road safety initiatives or drug laws with Stalinism hyperbole. You consider it fact. To all any form of regulation is evil, consequences be damned. You would be happy to see people needlessly killed or mired in poverty unnecessarily in the name of sweet sweet freedom.

    "It correlates strongly with reality in that the more freedom a country has, the more prosperous that country tends to be. The reverse also tends to be true. The more regulated an economy, the more poorly it performs."

    That's a child's statement, not a grown up's.

    "...the rantings and screamings of someone who lets the fact that they don't understand an ideology blind them to it's(sic) implications."

    I am aware of its hideous implications. So are most people.

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  4. @Judge Any form of regulation is evil? You again show your lack of understanding of what you are criticising. Regulation should exist to protect us from each other by enshrining individual rights. If it's doing that, it's doing well.

    You then tell me my statement was that of a child, without explaining why you drew that conclusion... just before you (childishly) point out a typo resulting in a misplaced apostrophe. As usual, you don't really debate, just abuse and misstate. I guess I was right in my first assumption that you're simply a troll. I won't engage further.

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