#FirstWorldProblems Really Aren’t – But Are You A Jerk For Tweeting Them?

Twitter is a funny place. A joke hashtag one day could make you a tweeting outcast the next.

Take #FirstWorldProblems for instance. If you’ve been on Twitter for any length of time, you’ve likely seen silly tweets attached to this hashtag. Well, add “Getting guff on Twitter” to your #FirstWorldProblems list, because the hashtag starting to seriously tick off some people.

In Haiti, for example, folks have a LOT more to worry about than the stuff found in these tweets (and tagged as #FirstWorldProblems):


But isn’t that the point of the hashtag? These tweets are obviously mocking the fact that most people don’t have “real” problems. The folks writing the tweets know this – and they’re making fun of themselves by way of wry self-observation.

There’s even a First World Problems Twitter (@F1rstWrldPrblms) that does the same thing:


So what’s the problem? According to DDB New York, quite a bit. And they want to put a stop to folks using the hashtag:

DDB New York announced today that it is attempting to eliminate the#FirstWorldProblems hashtag on Twitter – the first mission to wipe out, instead of promote, a trending hashtag. #FirstWorldProblemsshowcases concerns that seem important to those living in wealthy, industrialized countries, yet are, in fact, trivial compared to the issues faced by those struggling to survive in many parts of the world. Though meant in jest, these tweets about “problems”–such as having to get up to change the TV channel or a phone charger that won’t reach the bed — also reveal a lack of sensitivity or awareness about serious social and health concerns and the ways that social media users can help alleviate real problems.

And according to Co.Create, DDB New York has since been tweeting the right back to the original #FirstWorldProblems authors.

“I’m sorry you were awoken by your cleaning lady. I hope today is better,” one of the Haitian responders says. Additionally, these messages close with a call to action, asking the joke makers to donate money to WATERisLIFE, which goes toward creating water solutions and rebuilding communities. Then perhaps next time, they’ll just stick to posting Family Guy quotes or making jokes that end in “That’s What She Said.”

Though DDB New York’s Chief Creative Officer, Matt Eastwood says the firm is “not setting out to humiliate people who have used the#FirstWorldProblems hashtag,” getting a sarcastic tweet back with the link to the video that follows seems pretty aggressive. But that’s their right. Just as it’s a person’s right to tweet a #FirstWorldProblems joke if they want to.

The project’s goal is supposed to be encouraging folks to “think before they tweet. There are much more important problems in the world than not getting a hot-enough latte in the morning. By highlighting real world problems [DB New York] hope[s] to encourage people to give to those in real need.”

Not sure if they’ll receive the desired result by putting people on the spot as being uncaring jerks, but who knows? The video is great, by the way. Too bad they’re making #FirstWorldProblems tweeters the enemy, when they could’ve easily harnessed that power to help spread awareness of their cause.

Here’s the video:

(Deciding which shoes to wear image from Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.