Phoebe: Wow! This reminds me of the time when I was umm, living on the street and this guy offered to buy me food if I slept with him.
Rachel: Well, h-how is this like that?
Phoebe: Well, let’s see, it’s not. Really, like that. Because, you see that was an actual problem, and uh, yours is just like, y’know, a bunch of, y’know, high school crap that nobody really gives y’know…Some problems are universal and basic: death, disease, hunger, thirst, cold, poverty, physical pain. These are part of the human condition and could happen to anybody. This trope is about problems that don't fit in that class, the problems of the prosperous — problems that are significant only if you've already got the basics of food, clothes, and shelter down. It's not that you can't get food; but they took your favorite sandwich off the menu at the food court, the best Philly cheese-steak in town, And That's Terrible. Maybe your mobile phone service is cheating you on its internet plan — which is a problem, yes, but when thirty years ago there was no such thing as mobile phone service, and ten years ago you couldn't get the internet that way, it seems minor. Or your $600 cell phone is broken - again, a bad thing, but when you can get cell phones for $20... Note that some serious problems don't rise to the food, clothing, and shelter level. Being a victim of racism, spousal emotional abuse, or school bullying are usually not life-threatening, and may cause no physical injury at all. Still, these problems should probably not be considered First World Problems—even when they happen to a bonafide rich First Worlder with no survival needs threatened. Mind you, there is a place for First World Problems in fiction. There has to be, as the First World demands situations that are relevant to them. Even people who are still struggling with more fundamental problems can, if they have time and access, get some enjoyment out of characters dealing with them - sometimes schadenfreude, sometimes for escapism. Clever writers can make something that looks like a First World Problem tie directly into something more fundamental. Keep in mind that a key aspect of the Third World is not merely how the majority are impoverished: it's how vast numbers of the the impoverished live in proximity to a small number with outrageous wealth (think Mobutu Sese Seko for example). While in the US and the like, usually the differences aren't so extreme, whatever your politics it's likely you can at least imagine a few gated communities buffeted by a ghetto or a trailer park, and class conflict is a common theme in all fiction. The Trope Namer is a Twitter hashtag. Twitter is an excellent platform for short moanings about daily life and our miserable existences by people who are generally well-enough off for this sort of problem, so this was a match made in heaven. The hashtag is still going strong. The trope itself is older than this, though: an older memetic quote on the same lines is parents responding to children refusing to eat vegetables with, "There are children starving in Africa!" (or "China" in The Thirties). Examples shall be limited to works that notably concern themselves with Third World themes. If we had to list all the episodes of television shows where the main conflict isn't starvation, we'd be here all day. Compare Pottery Barn Poor, Angst Dissonance, Misery Poker. Becomes the nastiest type of Misery Poker when used to claim not that a trivial problem only seems serious to someone whose life is basically pretty good—but that any problem suffered by a "First Worlder" is by definition trivial.
—Friends, addressing accusations of this trope in universe.
Notable Works that try to avert First World Thinking