I have heard a lot of people using the phrase "first world problem" lately and it is pissing me off. I can't help but think that the phrase really embodies our present times - a seemingly liberal facade concealing a deeply conservative attitude. On the face of it, the phrase is a reminder of just how bad life can be in seriously-underdeveloped countries, a note to oneself and others that a broken iPhone presumes a perviously-working one, a product that symbolizes and actualizes all of the money and comfort and security that preceded the purchase. On the other hand...
... the phrase lumps together all people of the first world, obscuring the very real poverty that exists here. The phrase communicates the idea that we are all so lucky to be where we are that criticism is ungrateful. The phrase presumes that unequal development globally is the result of a natural process instead of a deliberate one, and that our relative "luckiness" is merely coincident with the misery of other parts of the world, not contingent.
In fact, if there is a first world problem, it's that we have become so bloated with our own wealth and so deceived by our ideologies that the need to understand reality and change it for the better, to not live perpetually infantilized by the world we have created around us, is one we can forgo and forget.
The phrase "first world problem" is the first world problem.