29 July 2013


I love word games and mostly play Scrabble-like games, such as Wordscraper and Lexulous, and Scrabble itself.  Recently I made the foray into something similar to Wheel of Fortune, namely What's The Phrase? by Zynga.  You have categories to choose from and guess the phrase.  Instead of vague categories like those on Wheel on Fortune, the categories themselves are pretty interesting, like Oxymorons and Word Mashup, but my favorite is First World Problems.  It's not the first time I encounter the phrase First World Problems, but it's fun to find out what they are, via a game.  As someone who grew up in Viet Nam, far from a First World, then spent about a year in a refugee camp, but since then lived through the Information Age along with all the amenities of modern life in a big city, I love the idea of First World Problems.  In case you don't know, First World Problems, or FWP for short, are problems that are "suffered" by people in the First World, e.g. the U.S. or other places where standard of living is generally high.  People in Third World countries where there may be no indoor plumbing, electricity, paved roads, etc. live day by day without all the creature comforts.  In the mean time, people in First World countries have too much stuff and get all dramatic in response to any slight negative change to their daily routines.  In Vietnamese, the phrase "Nhà giàu đứt tay, ăn mài đổ ruột" means "The rich has a cut on the hand, the poor suffers a stab in the intestine."  Many memes have been created to illustrate FWP, but here are some I can think of, either off the top of my head or from What's The Phrase?, followed by my observations:

  1. My computer has a virus - In many places in the world people still don't have personal computers.  In the First World, many people do and they use the computer excessively.  With the computers broken, they are at a loss.
  2. Dead pixels on TV screen - When I was growing up, few houses have TVs and kids in the neighborhood would crowd around those that have TVs to watch shows, for just a few hours at night that there's something on TV.  Nowadays, First World citizens have many TVs in the house, flat and wall-mounted, with obscene sizes, then they lament about one tiny pixel that is dead.
  3. Forget what I was going to Google - Probably an age issue.  Google can find everything for you, as long as you can type in something for it to work with.  Google is not capable to read your mind, yet.
  4. New shoes not worn yet - While someone in a Third World country may not even have a single pair of shoes to wear, there are people in the U.S. with so many pairs who keep buying more then complain that they never get around to wearing some pairs.  Probably women, but maybe some men, too.  Or just anyone who is crazy about shopping.
  5. No electricity because of storm - There are some people who need machines to stay alive, but for most of us, electricity is just a major convenience to have.  A night or two without power because of a powerful hurricane is good for character-building.  Good time to be off the grid, to live in the real world instead of in some virtual world or social network.  To go to bed early and wake up at sunrise.
  6. Have to change password again - Some people hate the integration of Google or Facebook into other web services, but I myself love it.  Too many web sites require registration, then they most likely use different password policy.  Some are lax, others require strong passwords that are so-and-so characters long, the use of uppercase and lowercase letters, perhaps even special characters like dashes or tilde.  It is recommended that you keep different passwords for different places, too.  Many people don't follow that advice and once there's a need to change password at one site, they would need to change at all the others, too.  Sigh.
  7. Have too many T-shirts as a result of having run in foot races - A sad situations with many amateur athletes, myself included.  You go from being a couch potato to a 5K runner, then you move up to 10K, maybe a 15K, then half-marathon, and finally a full marathon.  Or is that all there is?  No, you leap to the next level, ultra-marathon!  Along the way, you have training run, practice run, recovery run, maybe cross-training, too.  And every race give you a T-shirt.  Before long, you have too many T-shirts!  Some people even have problems with having too many medals.  Currently I don't have this problem since I stopped signing up for races once I stopped having an income.  I still get T-shirts from volunteering gigs, though, heh heh.
  8. Numbers for TV stations are too long - Back in the simpler times, there were only TV stations from 2 to 13, the adventurous souls may venture to Channel 21, 25, or 41 and 47 (Lucha Libre!).  Then cable TV came along and now there are stations for almost every interests in the world and channel numbers are sometimes four-digit long.  I suppose if you are a couch potato and watch a lot of TV you have no issue with memorizing a handful of channel numbers.  I rarely watch TV.  For those evenings when anemia keep me down, I have a hard time recalling which number match which station.  I recently programmed the remote to have Favorites, but sometimes I want to watch something else.  I don't know the situation with Viet Nam now, but when I left it over thirty years ago, there were few channels and most of what's there are state-approved, namely propaganda and not worth watching.  Then electricity was available for only a few hours during the day, so even if there's anything to watch you don't have the juice to power the TV sets.  Maybe it's different now, Viet Nam or elsewhere?
That's all I think off, without resorting to Googling.  What First Word Problems can you think come up with?


  1. My FWP is when the HD sport channel #792 did not cover the hockey/football game I want to see! That really ruins my weekend.
    Or it rains when we were driving our convertible - haa haa.
    These are important FWP !!!

    1. Life is so unfair, TOTA. I feel your pain.