By Danny April
The increasing use of the phrase “First World Problems” to laugh away mild annoyances is starting to get on my nerves.
Whenever there’s a gross stall in a bar bathroom or Panera Bread announces they have run out of apples, invariably there’s someone on the scene willing to laugh off that stress with perspective on the triviality of the issue.
Who hasn’t found themselves saying “I guess this guy in line at the gas station needed condoms, too. So he took the last pack – I’ll just pull out tonight. First World Problems, right?”
But everyone in the examples above is dead wrong: Sanitation, Food Security and AIDS are some of the largest challenges of the Third World.
I’m sorry to admit that I contribute to this problem – and far worse. As an inveterate hater of political correctness, I tend to apply the more blue-collar turn of the phrase – “White People Problems” – and only recently stopped when a liberally conscious friend argued the racism inherent in the phrase.
At first, I felt suitably chastened. It’s true: the phrase bandies around incorrect assumptions about society – that minorities are immune to middle-class inconveniences, for instance, or that all Caucasians share a common ancestor with the Monopoly Guy.
Perhaps a pull towards the more moderate ‘First World Problems’ inclusively brings us together as economic bloc, helping to overcome the racial divide in America.
But then I thought: Wait, I’m really white, and that causes me a lot of problems. Not racially – I’m just pale as shit.
Equal parts Scottish and Irish, my people were bred to be some kind of translucent swamp warriors in the Old Country – Medieval Celtic ninjas that were loved by woman and envied by men – but in the 21st century, there’s nothing beneficial about having a fair complexion.
Today, it’s acceptable to both ridicule a person for staying indoors, but mocking him for turning lobster-red after an hour in the noonday sun. It’s common for people to laugh when you state you’ve gotten a tan, disputing that you have merely turned your skin color from ‘Creature living on the sea floor’ to ‘Old man who just saw a ghost’.
Below, for your convenience, I have described some of the common differences between these phrases:
White People Problem: Your skin dries up in the winter.
Pale White People Problem: Your skin immediately peels off your skeleton at the beach. Or the park. Or when a stray sunbeam hits you through a double-paned window.
White People Problem: Being occasionally misinterpreted about race, given white people’s extreme historical shittiness.
Pale White People Problem: Being constantly misinterpreted as a leprechaun on St. Patty’s Day, a vampire on Halloween, and albino at Six Flags.
White People Problem: It’s difficult to meet single people outside of the bar scene.
Pale White People Problem: You get arrested for hanging out all day in front of the blood bank and trying to relate to chicks that went there to actually donate blood.
(This works, fellas, and it’s a good way to meet a girl who will buy you cookies and juice on the first date).
Ultimately, while “White People Problems” may be a politically tone-deaf way to laugh off affluent inconveniences, “Pale White People Problems” are serious issues that we’ve been ignoring for too long. It’s time to take a stand against being ignored in the political discourse – we reek of sunscreen and aloe, we blend into the walls, and we’re everywhere. Pale White People of the world, like your many freckles, unite!