In the Loop: Whitworth ought to be grateful in the midst of first-world problems

How much time do you spend complaining about lack of sleep, overabundance of homework or internet connection problems? UNICEF New Zealand, partnering with UMR research, surveyed New Zealanders about their “First World Problems” and the results were striking. Although New Zealand is far different from the United States, we share a commonality: we don’t realize how good we have it. Some of the biggest problems from the survey included slow internet speed, the barista not making good enough coffee, getting a bad haircut and an uncomfortable couch. Most of us can relate to some of these and even think of some of our own. Whitworth’s “First World Problems” may be annoyance with Blackboard not working, not being able to access email, not being able to access the Internet in our dorm or our cell phone service not working in certain buildings around campus.

As students today, technology and internet are increasingly part of not only our entertainment world, but also our academic endeavors. We rely heavily on technology throughout the day. Fast internet can be the difference between finding three great sources for your next essay in fifteen minutes, and spending an afternoon waiting as each page loads at a painfully slow rate. If you can’t access Blackboard, it can mean not having access to materials you need for an assignment, or not being able to turn in an assignment on time. And, let’s be honest: Slow internet means it’s difficult to stream your favorite TV show via Netflix when you don’t have ready access to a TV. While some of these challenges are valid, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

We often consider our community to be within the “Pinecone Curtain” of the Whitworth pine trees and are encouraged to get involved outside of campus in the Spokane community. We should also take time to consider our situation in the “Pinecone Curtain” as it pertains to the situation we are blessed with at Whitworth. On campus, we have campus-wide internet access and are constantly building and improving facilities to state-of-the-art measures. These blessings  among others create an exceptional living and learning environment, even by first world standards.

It is important to be grateful that we have these options available to us. Our “First World Problems” are incomparable to those of other countries; we are well-equipped with a great community that surrounds us, clothes on our back, food prepared for us, fresh, clean water at our disposal and an opportunity for education that will help us in the future. Not many people have the opportunity to have what we do -- we are privileged to be in the situation and place we are currently in.

Not every college student’s problems are all trivial. Some students manage a chronic illness, balancing their school work and other responsibilities with trips to the doctor and all of the things they have to do to manage their illness. Many work multiple jobs to pay for school and living expenses, and still will come out of school with debt. Figuring out what path to take after graduation is a serious issue that everyone has to deal with at some point as well. Others may be dealing with family issues, struggling to make it through a day without the weight of those issues bearing down on them, causing them stress.

Still, the fact that you are here means that somewhere along the way you received some pretty incredible advantages. This board is not saying people should never complain, but advocates putting things into perspective. Let’s face it, we all have those days where we need to vent, but it shouldn’t allow us to focus strictly on ourselves.

When your “First World Problems” arise, perhaps you can use it as an opportunity to think about the many ways in which you have it good.  Or, even go further into finding a way to help out those whose problems are a little more serious than your own.

Whitworthian Editoral Board

Contact the editorial board at croach14@my.whitworth.edu