First World Problems

First world problems, right, I tend to make fun of them most of the time as they are a reflection of somebody’s micro cosmos. A universe full of knotted earphones wires, public transportation being incredibly clean and professional but sometimes 5 minutes late, being in bed ready to sleep but needing to pee. The list could go on for … well, days, as many websites have shown us recently.

These first world problems intrigued me severely when I first arrived to New Zealand. I couldn’t understand how some simple stuff (and in my opinion, coming from a ‘developing country’, irrelevant) could be so annoying to some people.

These individualistic complaints, made by my peers, friends and coeds, became, to a certain extent, funny and cute. Although, I realized that these problems were also noticeable through national media. The New Zealand Herald and the, not that well known, regional papers in New Zealand do cover international and important events around the world, however, they tend to stick to local news in a trend that is kind of disturbing. We all know what’s going on in Syria and its authoritarian regime violating human rights, right? Indeed, we all know that, and if you don’t, well, you’ve been living in a nutshell half of 2012. What I found disturbing is that national media gave more coverage (over a week) to the story of a girl left behind by public transportation somewhere in Waikato, because the bus was ‘too full’. I mean, it is sad that the girl’s dad was attending a funeral service and he had to go and pick her up, and then the outrage, the disappointment, the anger of the locals towards the Council’s lack of reliability. Fair enough.

And this happens everywhere, regardless of the country, its people, traditions or history. However, some countries with strong international affairs history and outstanding sustainability programs, advocacy for the protection of human rights internationally and home of Xena the Warrior Princess should ask its media to encourage its citizens to worry and act, to see beyond their shores. Sometimes I read The NZ Herald, and, as a temporary member of the NZ community, it worries me and disturbs me what happens to my neighbours, to kiwis, to their jobs and first world problems; sometimes I even throw out some first world problems myself (like: huh, I don’t have a nice view of Rangitoto from my place). I mean, I’m not saying we should become international media junkies, nor underestimate our neighbours’ remarks on how much anxiety not knowing when Marmite will be back on the grocery stores’ shelves is giving them. We shall be aware of what’s happening out there, to listen, read, think and act.

This post was inspired by a recent interview published in The New Zealand Herald (oh, the irony) to Anita McNaught (@anitamcnaught), New Zealand journalist for Al Jazeera in the Middle East. Best quote?

“I’ve watched foreign news coverage shrink year-on-year in the New Zealand media. I also think it’s vital to have New Zealand voices out there in the thick of world events, reporting back.”


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