By Arlie Martin
Senior Opinion Writer
Americans are among the first to complain about things going wrong. We want what we want and get angry when we don’t get it. We think that it is our basic right to have a prosperous life in which all our desires become a reality. Isn’t that to be expected from a nation giving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
For a nation that says it is dedicated to maintaining these human rights for all people, the United States sure likes to pick and choose. For example, many Americans are up in arms over the fact that the Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi despite Russia’s stringent laws against homosexuality. We find this to be the height of injustice in the world.
Although America wants to adopt the role of great protector of basic human rights, it cannot.
Beyond the fact that racism and social inequality are still present in our modern society, we turn suffering into a joke. The popular Twitter hashtag, #firstworldproblems, lets us whine about nothing while also belittling the struggles of the poor and oppressed.
Now, instead of having to say, “Oh hey! Look at this picture of my slightly frizzy hair because it’s raining, and I need your approval because I cannot make myself conform to the mainstream specifications of beauty today!” or, “I am unnecessarily angry with this person because I can’t wait an extra two minutes for my coffee due to my utter lack of concern for other people!” or, “I’m so entitled and blinded by consumerism that I will spend hundreds of dollars to be cooler than you!” you can say it in those three easy words: #firstworldproblems.
In case you haven’t caught on, first world problems simply are not problems. Sure, they’re nuisances, but at the end of the day, you were not inhibited from living your life normally.
To some, this hashtag is supposed to be funny; it’s a way to share a moment with the rest of the world. But by using it, you are encouraging and buying into the entitled mentality that could for one moment compare our lives in the top one percent of the world to the lives of those in the third world.
#Firstworldproblems is a horrible statement to these people. Every time that hashtag is used it says, “We see your struggle and choose to make a joke out of it.” While you’re at it, you should grab a slice of cake and chat with Marie Antoinette. I’m sure you’ll be great friends.
If the entire world were sitting back and saying nothing about the social injustice in Russia, Americans would be outraged. If the world were joking about how awful their lives were in comparison to those imprisoned in Russia, we would demand heads on platters. But what gives us the right to be angry at all?
The American notions of human rights and decency need to have some continuity. Without it, we are acting as if it is our job to choose who deserves justice and who needs to disappear from the world stage.
We need to recognize that all people deserve their basic human rights to be acknowledged and respected, and the first place for us to begin is with our social media feeds.