An End To Third World Countries And First World Problems

Why we all need to eliminate these two expressions from our vocabulary

Since I started my business back in 2005, its purpose has always been to expand our worldview; encouraging us to create harmony with oneself and the world around us. So it is disheartening when I hear people use certain words that set us back 20+ years. Two of the phrases I most dislike hearing are “third world country” and #firstworldproblems because they invoke a ‘them and us’ mentality.

There Are No Third World Countries

We all live on the same planet, so there can’t be three worlds.

The term dates back to a political article written in 1952 by Alfred Sauvy. In “Three worlds, one planet” published in L’Observateur he described the world as split into three political areas, each with a different role in the Cold War. The First World was made up of U.S., Western Europe and their allies. The Second World was the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and friends, also known as the Communist Bloc. All other nations, not assigned to either of the other two categories were Third World. That would include many countries in the Middle East that we now consider to be wealthy and prosperous.

So now that I’ve covered the background, I think we can agree that this term, coined more than 60 years ago, is out of date.

The term preferred by many is “developing country”. Whereas ‘third world’ smacks of separation from the rest of the globe, ‘developing country’ engenders hope and change.

Let’s End First World Problems

No, I don’t mean I’m here to solve your weak Wi-Fi signal or help you choose which latte you want from your local coffee shop each morning. You’re still going to have these small, minor inconveniences in your life. But please stop calling them ‘First World Problems’. Social media posts sporting that hashtag are like spiteful stealth boasts, screaming, ‘look at me, I live in one of the richest countries in the world and I’ve still found something (quite trivial) to moan about’.

The Quality Of Life Myth Busted

There’s a common assumption underlying these two phrases, an assumption that is wrong — that it is better to live in a richer or developed country. Embark on a few globetrotting adventures, or even watch a documentary from the comfort of your sofa, and you will see that quality of life is not only linked to wealth. Some of the poorest nations on Earth boast the happiest citizens. Despite their problems, they still have a quality of life that ranks high. It may just not look like yours or mine.

Key takeaway: Quality of life looks different in different places.

For Me, This is Personal

In 2012, I moved to Costa Rica, a country many people consider to be ‘third world’.

There are bars and plywood in windows, dilapidated infrastructures, multiple families living in small homes often with dirt floors, poor nutrition, obesity, lack of good health care, homelessness, drug and alcohol problems, hunger, guns, prostitution, domestic violence, gangs, drugs, crime, murders.

Those who don’t live here might judge that as ‘Third World’, somewhere separate, a nation not as good as the ‘First World’ countries.

But you could take that list and apply it to many places in the United States. An impressive GDP does not make a country immune to these problems.

There’s No Divide.

If you were to look at our planet from space, you would see ONE world with no borders. Only a mosaic of colors, textures and shapes.

There is no ‘First World’ or ‘Third World’. Countries cannot be categorized only by their income or development or infrastructure. There is so much more to the story. Get inquisitive, delve into a nation’s culture and history, explore its landscape and you’ll soon discover there is no ‘them and us’.

We are all ONE world.

Chrissy Gruninger is an author, yoga teacher and happiness coach. Her latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana, Wildhearted Living in an Imperfect World is now available on Amazon and iTunes. Chrissy loves her jungle beach shack in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately chooses to live her ONE beautiful life wildheartedly. Her goal: to empower others to thrive in an imperfect world, to learn how to be Simply Sanguine.