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First World Problems

Tuesday, April 17, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Kay Frances, MBA and Motivational Humorist, will speaking at the Opening Plenary at the 2018 Spring Primary Care Conference


"Oh, say can you see? You're as whiny as me!"


There is a phrase that was coined a few years ago: "First World Problems." The phrase is used to minimize complaints about trivial issues by shaming the complainer, or as good-humored self-deprecation. You know a concept is a real "thing" when it becomes a song by Weird Al Yankovic. That's right; he actually has a song called, "First World Problems."


A "First World Country" is a wealthy, industrialized nation such as the United States. "First World Problems" are problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at. Let me preface the forthcoming remarks by saying that I love the USA. I could not imagine living in any other country. That said, I have to acknowledge that we are a nation of whiners. Whining is national pastime, right up there with baseball and apple pie.


My flight is delayed! I could've walked and been there by now!


Compared with the concerns of Third World Countries, most of our problems simply aren't that serious. But, that doesn't stop us from whining about, well, everything. Our complaining is often in the form of venting or commiserating with our fellow citizens. Nothing will bond a group of Americans more than a shared whine-worthy experience like long lines, canceled flights or bad weather. It doesn't matter if we have zero control over our circumstances, whining is how we cope. Just strike up a conversation with a stranger who is sharing a bad experience and let the whine-fest begin! You will have an instant new best friend.


Technological advances are a wonder to behold. And yet, the better and easier it makes our lives, the more we find to complain about. I can remember when my family got our first television set. We all sat spellbound at what was appearing before our very eyes. But, it didn't take long for the whining to start. I can remember conversations like this:


"Why are there 13 numbers on the dial and we can only get 3 channels?"


"Someday, they'll have 13 channels."


"They can't fill the 3 they've got!"


In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called, "57 Channels (And Nothin's On)." Fast forward to today, with streaming video, hundreds of cable channels and big, red boxes full of cheap movies and we still lament that there's "nothing to watch."


I'm so old that I can remember when we had ONE telephone that was shared by the entire family. Not only that, we shared ONE phone line with the entire neighborhood! This was (incorrectly) called a "party line." It was anything but a "party." You always had that one nosy neighbor. You could hear her click on:


"Edna, I can hear you breathing."


"No, I'm not."


Now everyone has their own personal phones and are we happy? No. We complain constantly about "no service" and slow downloads. And, phones change so quickly, it's hard to stay current. I was so proud of my iPhone, but now that phones are the size of drive-in movie screens, I feel completely out-of-date. I might as well be walking around with a rotary dial phone in my pocket.


This ice cream is so frozen, I'll have to wait three minutes to be able to put the spoon in it!


The advent of the automobile was met with delight and today we can't imagine being without a car and yet they are a huge source of annoyance. They require all of this attention, like a needy child. Tires, oil, gasoline. And, it doesn't matter if gas prices go lower than a gallon of iced tea, we WILL complain. Why? We're Americans. It's what we do.


Talk about a First World Problem; I overheard a woman in a restaurant complain to the server that her fish tasted "fishy."


It's a fish!


But, as is often the case, people get rewarded for their whining. The server actually took a few dollars off of her bill! I thought, "Well, I'm going to try that." I said, "Excuse me, but this pork chop tastes 'piggy.' And, my friend's hamburger is a little on the 'beefy' side." Whining is contagious.


Modern medicine is a marvel. So many diseases and illnesses have been eradicated through medical advances. But, you let a doctor's appointment go past its scheduled time and I guarantee the whining will commence! Of course, now we have our cell phones to entertain us while we wait. So, it should come as no surprise to the staff at the doctor's office when we complain about the "no cell phones" policies. I mean, are they trying to kill us?


My computer and lamp don't leave enough room for me to charge my phone!


Yes, our lives are full of First World Problems. Where this enters the Danger Zone is when they begin to build up and create real problems like stress-related illnesses. We really do have legitimate concerns and living in a modern world is rife with the potential for angst and all sorts of things that can make our health go south. So, we should stick to complaining about things that really matter and minimize our concern over the things that simply don't. We need to just let the little things go. Our health and well-being depend upon it.


Now, if you'll excuse me, my lunch just arrived and is not quite hot enough. I plan to write a sternly-worded letter to the proprietor.



Kay Frances, MBA is a Motivational Humorist who encourages people to "laugh more, stress less and take care of yourself!" She gives humorous keynote presentations and stress management workshops all over the United States. She is the author of "The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life." To order the book or find out more about Kay, visit her website at: www.KayFrances.com.






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