Saturday, April 14, 2012

First World Problems

Perhaps you've heard the phrase, "first world problems". It references some of the inane complaints that people (like us) have that completely miss the point of how good we have it. "My Kindle battery is dead. How will I read tonight?" "My parents bought me a used car." "My Big Gulp went flat before I could finish it." "My teacher marked me off on my paper because my spellchecker didn't catch that I misspelled 'your' in that sentence." That's the idea. Between our technology and our riches (especially compared to the rest of the world), we're developing our own set of problems, and some of them are nonsensical.

Arizona lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would make it illegal to kill a child over the age of 20 weeks. Oh, sorry, abort a fetus after 20 weeks. Same thing. The pro-abortion crowd is in an uproar. Apparently the bill states that the 20 weeks starts from the end of the last period the pregnant woman had. "Wait!" they protest. "That takes something like 2 weeks off the counter. That means that women only have 18 weeks to kill their baby legally! That's not fair!" First world problems.

While forensics tell us that the gender resides in the genes and the bones of a victim can tell us the sex of the victim and such, our society has determined that the identity of the gender is determined by how the person feels about himself or herself. If I have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome (genetically a male) but feel like I should have female body parts, I can have myself modified and be declared a female. Thus, the best looking Miss Universe contestant from Canada is a man. First world problems.

Artificial insemination is a good thing. We've figured out how to help women with infertile husbands (or single women who would like to forego male relationships or ...) to have a baby. We just need a literal sperm donor. Easy. So now a British scientist has been donating so much sperm at his own fertility clinic that he is estimated to have fathered 600 children. The question becomes "Who is my father?" because there are certainly chances (since the "good doctor" only allowed his close circle of friends to participate in his donations) that one of the 600 children might wish to marry another of the 600 children and we would have accidental incest. First world problems.

Perhaps you've seen the commercials for the car where the kids are trying to help out their poor benighted parents while the parents are out living life. One of them is a daughter who tried to set up her parents' social networking. Her poor parents ... they only have a dozen friends on their account while she sits at home with over 600 friends. How sad for them. Of course, they aren't sitting at home; they're out with friends. As it turns out our modern technology is making us lonely according to studies. While we live in the most connected society ever with ever-present Internet, immediate texting and tweeting, ubiquitous phones, and the most comprehensive social networking ever imagined, it turns out that we're lonely and getting lonelier. While virtual communication expands our "contact list", face-to-face avoidance promotes anonymity. Now we have room for online bullying, males pretending to be females pretending to be interested in males pretending to be single, easy-access pornography in the privacy of your own room, and a host of other immoral activities that promote loneliness rather than community. No facial expressions, no body language, no verbal cues, and while we think we're just a keystroke away, we feel like we're not on the same planet. Connected without connection. First world problems.

Now, I'm quite sure that we're (almost) all happy about technology and where we're going. Life is improving. We're better off. I mean, sure, we don't have our personal rocket packs yet and we're still waiting for the holographic phone calls and all, but life is getting better and better for us. We'll keep telling ourselves that. Don't examine it. Don't think about it. Don't be grateful for what we do have. Don't consider the possibility that some progress is not progress. Don't even think about the time lost in front of the computer or the television or the distance created between friends simply by eliminating real tete-a-tete conversations or the dangers of sitting forever in front of a screen instead of moving around (called "exercise"). I would encourage you to talk to your neighbors about it, but I suspect some of us have never met our neighbors. First world problems.

1 comment:

Dan said...

good one