I try to keep up on Amanda Palmer’s blog, but in the hustle and bustle of life and all there is to read and enjoy and experience, I’m not wholly consistent. But when a particular post is then recommended by several other people I follow, it hits the “must read” list. Thus was my experience with her latest entry: on recording, marriage, and the problem with first world problems.
In her trademark, ramble-y style of personal anecdotes of the recent past, the far past, the present, and general philosophy, she explores the hidden judgment behind the “first-world problems” tagline, with a basic thesis that:
and OF COURSE the problems of those in the first world are first world problems. if you’re HAVING them, chances are….that’s where you are.
starving people have starving people problems, dying people have dying people problems, overweight people have overweight people problems, white people have white people problems, black people have black people problems, rich people have rich people problems, gay people have gay people problems, straight people have straight people problems….are we detecting a pattern?
everybody’s got them, period.
you can’t measure human suffering with a yardstick. those who try to do it end up vindictive, even when they’re trying to be helpful.
because the minute you start measuring suffering, you invalidate somebody’s suffering…and that just never works. that’s where the whole shit starts getting ugly.
To which I say, a thousand times yes.
I’m going to do that horrible reader/author thing where I remember the idea but not where I got it from, so can’t attribute appropriately (but I will at least say “not mine originally!”), but I remember some author lamenting the proverb “I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” The nameless author, who I so dearly wish I could remember, pointed out that, while the proverb is trying to say that you should be happy because it can always be worse, what it’s really saying is that the only person who has a right to complain is the person with the shittiest circumstances. That one person whose circumstances are the most miserable, that ONE person gets to gripe. Everybody else is a bit better off so should be happy with that minor improvement…all the way up the chain of 7 billion people to whoever is the luckiest, most well-off person on Earth.
Channeling Amanda…..fuck that.
Not that we should all be complaining all that time. And yes, it’s good to find happiness where you can. But you know what? Sometimes even the luckiest person has a shit day. And sometimes that lucky person wants to gripe about that shit day. And that person? That lucky, normally totally happy person? They have the freedom to complain without judgement or the need to feel guilty for their complaints.
And there’s a little bit of happiness in that freedom.