First World Problems

This short video (just over two minutes) has a very powerful message…


I have to admit that I’m rather uneasy with the way this important message is got across.

Firstly, I don’t like the terms first world and third world; I know that they are easily understood, but they seem to imply a value judgement that I don’t like.  Perhaps I’m just being picky.

More importantly, the video gives a somewhat distorted picture of life in Africa. Surprisingly enough, there are many people in rural Africa who have mobile phones and who share all of the same frustrations about network coverage and keeping the phone charged that we do in the West.

However, the key thing is that this video presents the relationship between the ‘first’ and ‘third’ worlds as being one dimensional. We don’t have real problems, they do. I’m not implying for one moment that there is no terrible grinding poverty in Africa – there is. But, if I can permit myself a generalisation, most Africans live lives which are richer in human relationships and connectedness than most Westerners. The loneliness, isolation and depression that are endemic in European cities – especially for the elderly – are relatively unknown in Africa.

Yes, we can help provide water (try sponsoring me in the London Marathon), but we also have a lot to learn from the developing world. The world is more complex than a short video can express.


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