Nothing says “I live in the First World” like “I have a strong and definite opinion about the LivingSocial group coupon deal to Whole Foods.”
This is what we on Twitter refer to as #FirstWorldProblems.
These problems include things like “Gee, don’t know what to do with all my sets of of plaster owls,” “Dang, my alma mater just moved from ninth to eleventh on the US News and World Report college rankings!”and “I think I might be skinny-fat.”
Groupons and LivingSocial have mastered the art of the First World Problem. “Gee, I wish I did more yoga, but I hate having to pay $10 a class!” we say. “Gee, I wish my face were more cleansed and my glasses had hipper frames. I wish my friends and I went on more kayaking adventures. I wish my apartment smelled more like the ocean. I wish I ate more kale.”
This is why these sites exist. They come swooping in to exploit all your first-world problems, and you spend hundreds of dollars on the assurance that, should you ever require tapas, you will have them, in small, bite-sized spades.
But sometimes this strategy backfires — like today’s Whole Foods deal. “The barbarians are going to come pouring in and overrun the salad bar!” we yelp, or rather, Yelp. “What if they take all the edibles and leave me with the organic shampoo, which looks like someone tried to make canned apricots, failed, and then discovered the resulting gray semi-solid had other uses?”
“$20 worth of food for $10,” most people thought. Well, not quite. $20 worth of Whole Food for $10, which is a subtle but meaningful distinction. That’s not just peanut butter. That is organic peanut butter made from peanuts who lived fulfilling lives, or something.
But potato, potahto, as some would say, provoking ire from the Whole Foodies who insist that we just failed to distinguish between a common tuber and a pesticide-free fingerling. Too bad for them. More than 700,000 coupons to Whole Foods have sold.
What if they dent the kale! What if they clog the checkouts? What if I can’t squeeze past them to the free sample cheese?
This is a travesty*!
But type the phrase, “Something must be done about the Whole Foods LivingSocial Deal!” and you get the sense that, in general, your life is going pretty well.
There is nothing wrong with first-world problems, of course. If it weren’t for first-world problems, people in our 20s would have nothing to write personal essays about, except how bummed we are to have run out of topics for personal essays. And that turns out to be a first-world problem, too.
*Whenever I misuse the word “travesty,” as I just have, someone sends me an e-mail to complain. What this actually should be is a travesty of something or other, but I haven’t heard from Mysterious Travesty Guy in a while, even when Rick Perry misused it in the debate, and I am worried about him.