Thinking about First World Problems

Living in Mexico, I often find myself confronted with situations that make me want to hashtag #NotAFirstWorldProblem or #3rdWorldProblems to the digital world, but I am always stopped by my own rational.

For example, yesterday I was getting out of the shower and grabbed a towel. Before I used it to dry off, I shook it a few times and – as is almost always the case – a cockroach fell out of it and scurried off. This is not a problem I have ever encountered in in the US, but it is not exclusively a “third” world problem. How many impoverished people living in the US have to shake roaches out of their things, too?

I also had to shake roaches out of shoes and towels while growing up in Japan. Japan is not a third world country.

Or, when the gas runs out and I have to wait a day to have hot water/use my stove. Is it a third world problem? Or is it just a problem more frequently associated with poverty? I know more than one person who grew up poor in the US and did not always have gas, hot water.

Access to clean water? Not exclusively and second & third world problem. Flint and Philadelphia much?

If I were to get pregnant in Mexico, I wouldn’t have the same access to 3D ultrasounds or the same kind of pre-natal care as I would in the US. Is that a third world issue, or an access issue? Because I know a lot of women in the US who can’t get 3D ultrasounds either.

So, I’m redefining “#FirstWorldProblems” as solutions available in the “first” world countries where other countries may not have that luxury – here are a few examples I’ve come up with (feel free to add your own):

  • “Pregnant and uninsured so I had to get on WIC and state-funded maternity care so my infant will have medical insurance and staple items for at least the first three years after birth.” #FirstWorldProblems
  •  “Had to use food stamps today to pay for part of my groceries.” #FirstWorldProblems
  • “Had to register my child in another district because this one only offers half-day kindergarten.” #FirstWorldProblems

Do you see what I mean? In the state of Mexico I live in, children only have access to half-day school (unless they go to private school which is expensive). I’m not just talking about half-day kindergarten. I mean all grades are easily out of school by 1 pm.

Or food stamps. While it may not seem like it, those would be considered a luxury to many. How many countries have people starving simply because they have no way to achieve access to food (aside from stealing, which then is punishable by death or chopping off a hand)?

So, anyway, it’s just something to think about. Lost your phone? #UniversalProblem Forgot your wallet? #UniversalProblem Hungry? #UniversalProblem



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