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Rewrite: First World Problems

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Dec 8th 2010 at 5:34:50 AM

There's a good idea in this one somewhere, but as it stands, it comes off as more than a little preachy. After all, if the criteria is "Works Containing Problems Other Than Starvation, Clean Drinking Water, Disease, and Government Corruption", we're in serious People Sit On Chairs territory. Can we salvage this one?

Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Dec 8th 2010 at 5:44:05 AM

The description is mostly bitching from what I can tell. The examples don't really mean much as they just seem like the first three examples the YKTTW starter could think of.

Well, according to the discussion, Fast Eddie wants it cleaned up rather than repaired.

edited 8th Dec '10 5:45:30 AM by Deboss

Fight smart, not fair.
Dec 8th 2010 at 5:37:51 PM

I'm not sure if this is very useful as a trope. 99% of problems in fiction and Real Life are pretty inconsequential when you compare them to millions starving in Africa.

And is it just me or does this example fit quite a few works? (See if you can guess who it's describing without looking.)

  • X often complains about random stuff that inconveniences her, particularly when it inconveniences her goofing off.  *

Could this work as an index of tropes instead? (How many tropes do we have about minor problems being treated as Serious Business?)

helterskelter Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Dec 8th 2010 at 6:18:38 PM

It's really easy to get offended at this trope. "If you have foot, shelter, and clothes how dare you complain!". I would say that it's easier to sum up the list of fiction that deals with Third World problems than it is to try to list the fiction that doesn't. Most fiction is about more other things besides finding food or shelter.

I honestly don't see how this is a trope. If the trope were, say, characters who are sidetracked by relatively insignificant issues when they are supposed to be dealing with bigger issues at hand, I'd guess I'd see it. But it'd be a different trope entirely.

Attempting to put every show about problems made tiny relative to starving orphans with AIDS in Africa is too much.

edited 8th Dec '10 6:20:22 PM by helterskelter

shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Dec 8th 2010 at 6:25:05 PM

How is this for a trope? "Treating truly minor and inconsequential problems like not having an iPhone as if they were Serious Business."

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
helterskelter Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Dec 8th 2010 at 6:30:57 PM

Now, that does sound like a trope. But I think the tone and perhaps the title really, really need a change. You can live in a first world country and still be poor, homeless, diseased, starving, and abused. The trope name itself lends the idea that people who live in a first world country do not have the right to complain and are arrogant to do so.

I think it should remove first-world vs third-world connotations all together, and clarify that it's about people, no matter where they live, who have a substantially good life and make a big issue about an incredibly minor thing. The Cartman example on the page is quite good in that regards. I remember he raises hell wanting a Nintendo Wii, too.

Dec 8th 2010 at 7:19:08 PM

Maybe we could limit this trope to examples where someone's inconsequential whining is contrasted, in-story, with something like the proverbial "children starving in Africa"?

Dec 8th 2010 at 8:46:37 PM

"Treating truly minor and inconsequential problems like not having an iPhone as if they were Serious Business."

Isn't that Serious Business?

Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel. Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
Dec 9th 2010 at 12:19:29 AM

First World Problems is a pre-existing term:

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Whether it's tropable or not, that's something to keep in mind; if we use the term it has to match what others are using it to mean, namely, irritating things that come with living in a high-tech world in a state consistently rather high on Maslow's Hierarchy which truly impoverished people would not understand and find utterly trivial.

BTW, I'm a chick.
shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Dec 9th 2010 at 12:22:20 AM

We aren't urban dictionary though. If it's not something used in media and it's just a random colloquialism should we have it here at all? It doesn't really sound like a trope as is.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
Dec 9th 2010 at 12:24:11 AM

Hence my last sentence. If we're going to change what we're using it to mean we should rename as well as rewrite; I doubt the actual meaning is tropable but we didn't invent the term so we can't play fast and loose with the definition.

BTW, I'm a chick.
Dec 25th 2010 at 8:28:22 AM

Tried a rewrite. Kept the definition, but tried to tone done the self-righteousness, and added some caveats. Refocused examples to works that deal with 3rd world problems, which may be numerous, but at least quite less so than "any episode of a show where people don't deal with starvation."

Cameoflage Cesare Impersonator from Metro Vancouver Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Cesare Impersonator
Dec 26th 2010 at 5:45:57 PM

Having a trope in which every problem that isn't finding usable food, water, shelter, and clothing is labelled unimportant is just an example of Appeal to Worse Problems and/or Misery Poker. And, yeah, it would include the majority of fiction and is thus People Sit On Chairs.

I can see the potential for a workable trope here, though: Bob complains, with a straight face, about some minor inconvenience that people poor enough to have trouble getting by, like Alice, would consider themselves lucky to be inconvenienced by. (Like "I bought too many groceries and I can't fit them all into my fridge.") Often it isn't even an actual problem so much as not getting a luxury item that he wants. This demonstrates that Bob is either lacking in perspective or a Spoiled Brat.

So, basically, the changes that I think need to be made are a narrower scope of what makes a "first world problem" and a reframing of the trope as a direct contrast between rich and poor rather than First World and Third World.

Cider The Final ECW Champion from Not New York Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
The Final ECW Champion
Dec 26th 2010 at 5:55:19 PM

I know, make it a super trope, and add Spoiled Brat, Appeal To Worse Problems ect under it as sub tropes.

Modified Ura-nage, Torture Rack
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