First World Problems Are Not Real Problems (Hold on a Sec)

Before you scroll away, take note: this is not about the self-righteousness of the privileged and the armchair activists. This is not a shame piece on those who deny their privilege. This is not a solution to the unhappiness of the world. This is a perspective.

One Point Perspective Drawing - Civilization

First World Problems Are Not Real Problems

Does this mean the “first world” has no problems? No.

Does this mean the “first world” should be happier than the “third world?” No.

In popular culture, the term “first world problems” has become a joke dealing with the material luxuries and excesses of our culture. And when I refer to culture, I do not mean the culture of a specific ethnicity or country or borough. I refer to the culture of our civilization as a whole – not the concept of civilization, but our civilization as it is. The “first world problems” meme is something of a misnomer. It is misleading and yet it is completely accurate. You see, this idea does not deal with the deeper illnesses and shamefully hidden lesions of our culture, the true problems of the first world. We laugh at instances of “first world problems,” such as not being able to text because your fingers are too cold or forgetting your WiFi password for the dozenth time. At first, we laugh because we can relate. And the smirk dissolves into realization. We laugh because it’s true. And then we realize it is sad.

Our culture is not a happy one. Many of the inventions that were created to make our lives easier and more fulfilling simply do not. They were created – manufactured – for extrinsic reasons: money, fame, power.

But not contentedness.

“Nowadays People Know the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing.” 
– The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

There are some in our culture who have immersed themselves so deeply into the narrative of material paradise that they allow themselves to pretend to be happy. That is not true emotion; that is denial. It is a lie. I value the wisdom of accepting each individual’s reality, but on one condition: that the reality does no harm. The reality that we have been baptised in within the soothing cathedral walls of our culture is not harmless – far from it. These murky waters that we both wade in and drink from have clouded our minds. I am no unclouded messiah, no trained physician, nor am I the first to ever question the methods of our civilization. (In fact, I am only just beginning to explore the notion – and what an interesting excursion it is becoming). However, I do see that we are sick. None of us are immune and it is more than what a few teaspoons of cough medicine can fix.

Some people become sanctimonious, lamenting the supposed unhappiness and unnatural suffering of those in “less fortunate” countries. And I have bought into the sanctimony more than once, but I’m slowly getting my money back. Customer service may prove to be a bitch, but I am definitely going to get my money back.

“Finish Your Food – There Are Starving Kids In India”

Well, there are starving kids in Indiana, too. Finishing my plate of peas and carrots isn’t going to fix that problem. We are not all that better off than those “poor, dirty, backwards India folk.” At this point, the privileged saints of our culture froth at the mouth at such a blasphemous remark. “You are so ungrateful for what you have.” Am I? Yes, it is wonderful at the end of a lovely day at a higher education institution to be able to go home – a home with a roof and insulated walls; a home with central heating and clean, hot water; a place with electronic entertainment devices. I can drive to the grocery store in a sturdy, warm, cushy vehicle and get enough food to stock an underground fallout shelter. (And have enough food left over for a family reunion weekend).

But does this make me happy? No.

And does that answer make me ungrateful? No.

“First world problems” are not real problems. But it does not mean we do not have them. We are just more skilled at denying them.

What do you think about the idea of “first world privilege?” Can it be used fairly (without shaming)? Is it a responsibility of the “privileged” to better the world?

Read on:

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Fill Thy Vat of Knowledge!

What do you do when it’s 11 PM on a Thursday evening, you don’t have class tomorrow, and you currently can’t sleep? Why, take to the interwebs, of course! And by the interwebs, I specifically mean the lovely HowStuffWorks.com. There is always time for learning! Knowledge never sleeps! Quench your thirst of information that was not previously known to you! This introductory paragraph has too many exclamation marks, so I sound like a spaz!

Anywho – obnoxious punctuation aside – I love HowStuffWorks. Whenever I feel that my “Useless Trivia” data stores are running low, I know I can just click on the HowStuffWorks icon in my favorites bar and bask in the knowledge feast laid out before me. I won’t emerge from this gluttonous trance until I’ve gone through the main page and ripped through a dozen articles using the Random Post button. “Learn how Everything Works!” is their site tagline. And indeed, they attempt to show you how everything works from describing how to break into a house, to explaining how dying of embarrassment is worse than freezing to death, to enlightening you on what in the world the appendix is for (kind of).

I Heart Guts Appendix. So cute.

Seriously, I’m just here to screw with you.

I first discovered the site when I was in 8th grade whilst looking for science articles for science class (reduntantly redundant) because most of the links the teacher provided pretty much sucked (meaning it was hard to find articles that fit the criteria for the assignments – not dissing the integrity of the scientific reporting, so lay off). It was love at first click, but as with all deep and irrational loves, it came at the price of my self-respect. Soon I was obsessed with the site, coming back to her – I’m just going to pretend the site is female, just because – everyday. She seduced me with her full, shapely articles. My hunger for her knowledge had me coming back again and again until my brain ached and eyes fatigued. The noetic siren had dragged with me into the depths of her surveys, and quizzes, and pages of sweet, sweet information.

Well, that was unnecessarily melodramatic.

But I’m over all that now. The relationship between me and her is totally under control and I am in no danger of succumbing to her know-it-all wiles again. Basically this is a love post – borderline lust post – to HowStuffWorks.com. She fills that emptiness within and is there whenever I need her (and have access to WiFi).

No, not really. This all really was unnecessarily melodramatic. But thanks, HowStuffWorks, for helping me be semi-funny and teaching me how sarcasm works. (Gee thanks)*.

Read these interesting articles from that vixen of a site:

*Sorry, that joke was too easy.

What sites do you like to waste time be productive on? Have a favorite HowStuffWorks article? Share it!

How Not To Fall Asleep During Physics

Physics is great. Dropping your phone, crazy hair getting static-y, meteorites plummeting into Mahther Russiaeverything is physics. Not to mention – Newton’s the man.

Sir Isaac Newton: Like A Boss

Like a boss.

Physics is not the problem. Monotonic professors in poorly lit rooms are the problem. But even that is shifting the blame.

A college professor’s job is not to entertain their students. [Aside: Please excuse me for using “their” as a gender neutral term. I’m lazy and I dislike how jarring “he/she” looks.] Their job is to enlighten the future of America and inspire them to be model citizens for country. More or less. Therefore, I appreciate teachers – I really do – even the ones who don’t give a crap. I’m not one to judge.

However, when you have to wake up at 6 AM, watch your brain turn to goo in a logic and reasoning mathematics class, and then go straight to physics, things aren’t going to look very pretty. You see, by this point, your morning has been shot to hell and you’re inclined to be a Grumpy McGrouchster for the rest of the day. But you won’t be openly hostile to others because you’re a stand-up guy/gal, who saves all the stress and fatigue for when you slip into bed and then cry into your pillow until dawn – before starting the cycle over tomorrow. O first world problems.

All in all, what I’m saying is it’s hard to stay awake in class sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about the subject. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the professor. It does mean that waking up early and going to morning classes make me tired and ancient professors with soft, milquetoast voices make me even more tired. I need toothpicks to keep my eyes pried open.

Because I’m ever so enlightened and generous, here are some ways to stay awake during [insert sleep-inducing class here]:

  • Doodle
  • Plan out your weekend
  • Text madly
  • Write poetry
  • Scratch out your doodle ’cause it was crap
  • Text merrily
  • Think about how much you hate Andrea from The Walking Dead
  • Pen the next great American novel (or Chinese novel – whatever floats your boat)
  • Try to come up with a blog post that isn’t obviously phoning it in

Or, if you’re one of them rebels who couldn’t care less:

  • Wear sunglasses
  • Pick a seat in the back of the room
  • Place hand on chin
  • Fall asleep

Disclaimer: Not recommended if you’re a snorer. Pleasant dreams.

How many hours of sleep do you usually get? How do you stay awake in class? Tell us your tactical secrets. (It’s the Internet. Your secret’s safe.)

Catapulting Plates At A Wall (Relax, It’s Doctor’s Orders)

Fantasies make the world go ’round. And they keep me from murdering everyone.

I have a recurring fantasy where I’m in a pristine room with walls and floor of a blindingly white lack of color. (No, that’s not the whole fantasy. I don’t have a cleaning fetish. Just stay with me for a bit.) However, while untouched, the room is not empty. I look around, sedate. There are plates, vases, bowls, pots, large panes of intricate stained glass, flower mosaic lampshades, even a low-hanging chandelier. The light doesn’t glint and dance. Nothing moves. On the far side is a pyramid of crystal wine glasses surrounded by a village of painted porcelain figurines -all on top of a Windex-scented table top. Again, it’s made of glass. This ain’t the Antique Road Show.

It’s therapy time. Get out the Louisville Slugger.

Angry Stress Man

“Stress? What stress? I’m just constipated.”

This is what the intellectuals with aspirations of super villainy call “Destructotherapy,”  or by those who dream up names for their Indie rock band, it is know as “Smash Therapy.”  Clearly, it’s therapy that involves smashing things. The rationale behind it is that the exercise of breaking stuff provides an outlet for pent up energy, primarily anger. You’re allowed to vent all the malaise that you’ve been civilly keeping locked up. Pop that lid and let it all out. But you can’t do this just anywhere. We don’t live in a delicate, dainty world. You can even argue that our world is already broken in itself, but that’s another topic entirely. However, have you noticed how anal we are as a society about breaking our belongings? All this… stuff? Comedic genius George Carlin quips about our material obsession:

“That’s the whole meaning of life, isn’t it? Trying to find a place for your stuff… If you didn’t have so much Goddamned stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. That’s all a house is – it’s a pile of stuff with a cover on it.”

You want to break stuff, but you don’t want to break your stuff. And you don’t want to break your friend’s or neighbor’s stuff (unless, of course, you actually do want to.) This is America, folks, the land of the almighty dollar. You can look up a place like the Anger Room, where you can reserve smashing rooms for 5 minutes (“I need a Break!”), 15 minutes (“Lash Out”), or 25 minutes (“Total Demolition”).

Letting loose, embracing your power, unleashing your inner animal. The surge of adrenaline can make you feel alive.

However, while I agree that uncorking that bursting bottle of frustration bubbly can be relieving and emotionally healthy – destruction therapy should be done with caution. I’m not just talking about wearing safety goggles and being careful about not bashing your own head in. The main point is this: everything in moderation. The mental dangers of this kind of “therapy” is that the exercise, the sudden popping of all that anger, might trigger a waterfall. The little Dutch boy’s finger is no longer enough. Now, instead of the hate eating you from the inside, you are being flooded by it, crushed by it. And in your sudden chaotic “freedom,” you thrash and splash and fight for air.

You don’t have to resign to your anger, but learn to accept it and realize that the stress isn’t all that bad. Life is rife with emotional outlets. And while the white room filled with fragile oh-so-breakable items is still a fantasy of mine, I know not to go too crazy. Or else I’ll end up in another white room with nothing but meds to keep me company.

Read on about smash therapy and anger with these links:

Bonus: And since we mentioned Carlin earlier, let’s blow off a little steam with a bit of laugh therapy with the comedic legend. (Warning: Some Foul Carlin Language)

The Liebster Award: A Foreign Language, So It Must Be Important

Foreign words – AKA “non-English words” for us ‘Mericans – automatically make a subject more prominent and formidable-sounding.

“When I suffer from ennui and have beaucoup time on mis manos, I sit around watching The Real Attention Whores of Miami with a cup of non-alcoholic apple champagne.  

In other words: They make the verby stuff comin’ outta’ my mouth sound totes legit.

And in a roundabout way, I’m saying I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award by Keeping A ThoughtAccording to Google Translate, the world “liebster” means “dearest” in German. (Not “body of Rochester,” as I first thought when I dyselxically typed in “leibster.”)

Leibster Google Translate

… Like Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester? Or…

The Liebster Award is for “up and coming bloggers with 200 followers or fewer.” When nominated, the blogosphere powers that be say to do as follows:

  1. Post 11 things about yourself. (Oh boy)
  2. Answer 11 questions from your nominator. (Oh double boy)
  3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. Please tell them that you’ve nominated them, too. (Someone seems to have an “11” fetish)
  4. No tag backs! We wouldn’t want people to get double nominations. Too much work for them anyways. (Spread the Liebe). 

Liebster Award

Firstly, I’m going to switch the order of this a little bit because the most important part is the nominated blogs. If you want to read about me talking about myself and asking you silly questions, keep scrolling down at your own masochistic risk. So without further ado, here are some blogs (in no particular order) that I’ve found funny, honest, captivating, insightful, and/or all around enjoyable to read. Check them out!

11 Things About My Lovely Self

  1. I dislike lists about myself.
  2. I like root beer floats. If you don’t like root beer floats, GTFO. (Just kidding. Not really.)
  3. I watched all 4 season of Parks and Recreation on Netflix over the course of about 2 weeks. (Maybe 1 week, but who’s counting?)
  4. When no one else is home, I like to belt out The Phantom of the Opera songs. (The neighbors love me).
  5. Sleeping in too much makes me feel guilty as hell and makes me more tired than I would have been had I woken up before dinner time.
  6. I think Starbucks is a ripoff. But I keep going back anyway like a desperate, smitten lover.
  7. At Starbucks, don’t try selling me your newest caramel maraschino frappemachiatto. I only ever order a “Grande Chai, no water.” Done.
  8. I think I’m suddenly hating the number 11.
  9. My quietude often comes across as arrogance and/or apathy. I often don’t notice this until wa-a-a-ay after the fact, when the damage has already been done. And I’m pretty sure there are times when I never notice. Sorry, everyone I’ve ever unintentionally offended. (Not-so-sorry, to those I intentionally have).
  10. I’m trying out a new motto: “Just be.” Plain and simple. Existence is enough.
  11. I don’t know what I want out of life. And that’s a-okay.

11 Answers for the Lovely Nominator, Keeping A Thought

1. What genre of music do you dislike the most, if any?
Bad music.

2. What is one skill or talent that you would want the most?
The ability to enjoy answering questions.

3. Who is your role model, if any, and why?
Psy. Because oppa Gangnam Style.

4. What’s your reason for starting a blog?
To vent some stress in a way that wouldn’t result in breaking things or ending up in jail.

5. What is your current favorite song?
Flight of the Valkyries. Wagner, like a boss.

6. What irritates you the most?
Small talk.

7. Do you have any irrational fears? What are they (if you’re willing to say)?
Fear of being rational.

8. Would you be willing to jump off an airplane (with a parachute)? Why or why not?
Of course. Mama needs the adrenaline rush.

9. What was your weirdest dream?
It probably involved aliens, swimming in lava, and some high school teachers.

10. If there was a zombie apocalypse (which I highly doubt, I hope), what three items would you want the most to survive and defend yourself against these moving corpses?
Don’t joke about the zombie apocalypse. (But I’d bring a Swiss army knife, a Twinkie, and Daryl from The Walking Dead).

11. Did any of these questions irritate you, honestly?
They reminded me of those quizzes friends would forward you in middle school. So yeah.

11 Questions for the Lovely Nominees (No, I’m not going to stalk each of you to make sure you’ve answered these, so don’t sweat it.)

  1. Harry Potter or Twilight?
  2. Would you rather be a super hero or a super villain?
  3. What would your super name be?
  4. Why did you start a blog?
  5. What is one goal you’d like to achieve by the end of next week?
  6. What’s your opinion on unicorns?
  7. Is sarcasm the lowest form of humor?
  8. Who’s your favorite comedian?
  9. What’s your catch phrase or favorite saying?
  10. What’s the meaning of life?
  11. Who’s on first?

So there you have it, a bunch of 11’s and some redonkulous questions. Have fun, check out those blogs, and spread the love!

Cheers,
Stressed Out Student