First World Problems

The phrase 'First World Problems' was a popular meme running through web in 2011, however, first world problems aren't always something to laugh about. Kate Pickett explains how Income inequality, trauma, status anxiety and stress effect the life expectancy of people living in the developed world.



The situation is really getting difficult to comprehend. I am not rich by any means (an artist) but I am able to support myself - well - with my husbands help. Anyway - it is sad to think that people are not able to care for themselves even while working. Sad to see that famous athletes & actors are making millions of dollars per film when some Americans are starving. It is simply a crazy world we live in right now. Honestly - I try not to think about it.

leigh's picture

Yes - seems we are in a similar boat Indie. According to the Scott and I are in the top .78% of the world but we have maybe - at best- 3% of our income available for "disposable income" - the rest is sucked up by basics like rent, student loans, taxes, health insurance, utilities and food.
If you think about how unfair the whole thing is you'll go crazy - human agency or the belief/illusion that we can change the things which are effed-up is so important for mental health. No wonder first world people numb out.

Which is why so many of us lose our "youthful idealism" as time marches on. We see, time and again, that no matter how many petitions we sign, protests we attend, or letters to "officials" we write; the end result is often no change in terms of progression; and sometimes even a momentum for REGRESSION in policies and attitudes. The video tells us that if our "basic needs" are met; then our potential for health and happiness - as measured by life expectancy and surveys respectively - is not affected. What is NOT addressed here is that there appears to be little-to-no agreement on what, exactly, are the "basics"? Do they include healthcare? Nutritious, sustainably-produced food instead of just calorie-laden substitutes? Access to fresh air, truly CLEAN water, and the freedom to move around at will? I think they do; my government feels otherwise. If I dwell on this; I will become so depressed that I will be unproductive, and neither healthy nor happy. Nasty negative circle. Where is the hope?

Thank you for this article, I think it will really encourage discussion around the real nature of first world problems. Although we are incredibly lucky to live in countries where our basic needs are met, the inequality between those with top-level and those with bottom-level incomes is something that is never really discussed.