THE BLOG
10/18/2013 08:19 am ET | Updated Dec 18, 2013

17 Ridiculous 'First-World Problems'

Here is a whine - "Ugh, I'm sick again."

And here is a White Whine - "Ugh, every time I go to Paris I get sick."

The difference is subtle, but it's there. To be a White Whiner your complaint must convey, simultaneously, that you are both fortunate and irritated. Nothing gets people whining more than flying to an exotic location so they don't lose their vacation time at the end of the year. Here are a few examples of mishaps and disappointments that could happen to you this holiday travel season:

Excerpted from White Whine: A Study of First-World Problems Copyright © 2013 by Streeter Seidell and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Without further ado: 17 ridiculous White Whines:

  • What Do You Mean, No Wi-Fi?
    Wi-Fi—which stands for Wireless Fi—is no longer seen as a luxury or even a convenience, but as a right. An unalienable, unpassword-protectable right. When Wi-Fi is not available, laptop and tablet owners liken it to a trampling of their freedoms. From the Holiday Inn off the highway that only has Wi-Fi in the lobby to the airplane that hasn’t been retrofitted with a router yet, their pained cries ring out from every corner of the nation.
  • My Book Ran Out of Batteries, and Other Modern Complaints
    “My book ran out of batteries.” In six short words this White Whine confirms what we have long suspected: We’re currently living in the future. Our books run on batteries now. And just like most of our appliances—refrigerators, TVs, even cars—they are now smarter than we are. And what do we do to welcome to dawn of a new era? We complain about it, naturally. Here it is, folks, the first glimpse at a future full of amazing wonders that we’ll almost certainly find really, really irritating.
  • GPStress
    As I just mentioned, we’re living in the future. We no longer need to know how to get from point A to point B thanks to a network of satellites and computers, collectively known as GPS. At the root of most GPS White Whines is the fact that GPS is a computer system and not a human servant. So while GPS can figure out the shortest distance between two places, and even account for speed limit and traffic patterns, it might not know when, say, there are construction or deadly car accident delays. What an idiot.
  • I Need a Vacation from This Vacation
    Vacation was something that used to exist before smartphones and e-mail. Some among us are still able to partake in this decidedly First-World luxury once or twice a year. But sadly these people find that their ability to relax is compromised not by work or pressing matters at home but by the vacation itself. And thus was born one of the most popular and widely used White Whines in history: I need a vacation from this vacation. There are a number of reasons a vacation can turn from a relaxing jaunt on some foreign shore to an irritating nightmare. Travel delays are common, as nature really doesn’t care about your plans. But the most confounding White Whine that I see comes from annoyed vacationers is the concern that they are missing an amazing, once-in-a-week-time event at home. Movies premiere, bands play concerts, parties are thrown, all without regard for the poor souls who are languishing abroad, trapped in a verdant, all-inclusive resort. I don’t like seeing people stressed and annoyed, so I’m going to selflessly offer to go on these stressful vacations in their place.
  • Wish You Were Here... Instead of Me
    Every year millions of families take to the roads and skies for a little family vacation. For mom and dad, it’s a pleasant change of pace from the daily struggle to pay the bills, keep the house in order, and keep up with the monthly sex schedule. For the kids, vacation is a magical event where they’ll swim in hotel pools, see incredible sights, and finally experience the wonder of their parents actually getting along. But not every vacation is created equal, and a few White Whiney kids aren’t shy about letting their parents know when they’ve picked the wrong one.
  • Paradise Lost
    People can and will complain about almost any vacation. But there is no vacation that White Whiners bitch about quite so loudly as those taken at the beach. I think the reason beach bitching catches everyones attention is because just hearing the word “beach” brings up wonderful mental imagery: Sun, sand, sbikinis. What I don’t see, though, is someone standing in my sun, squeaking about how it rained yesterday, or how the waves are no good, or how it’s too hot, or how the resort is full of kids, or how they’d rather be at (insert identical tropical location) than this dump.
  • Down on the Ground
    Like it or not, there are times when one cannot take a plane, helicopter, or private car from point A to point B. Sometimes one must take public transportation, usually a bus or a train, and take his or her place among the great unwashed. Though train and bus lines have added amenities like Wi-Fi, White Whiners are quick to point out that the Wi-Fi barely works. And though they are probably right, it’s not the Wi-Fi that they’re angry at. What they’re really mad at is the fact that even though they’re clearly the most important human to ever live, they’re being forced to tolerate everyone else.
  • Ugh, Europe
    Europe, Europe, Europe! The continent that gave us the telescope, democracy, and the works of Shakespeare; also the joust, the automobile, and, of course, white people. To the endless irritation of anyone who is not rich enough to afford a two week jaunt through Europe, the recently returned bring with them so many complaints, large and small, that they probably had to pay for extra baggage at the airport. For all the beauty the continent of Europe offers, people can’t get past the little inconveniences that Europeans don’t even notice. It’s like a visit to your parent’s house (which, for most postcolonials, it truly is): It’s great to see them, but their computer is old and slow, they don’t have digital cable, and the fridge is full of weird food. Consequently, Europe is not only the most visited place on Earth, but also the most complained about. But let’s not let the Europeans know about this, okay? They already hate us enough.
  • Up in the Air
    The ability to fly is undoubtedly one of mankind’s greatest achievements, right behind farming, writing, and making cheese. And though everyone should wonder at the marvel of speeding through the air at hundreds of miles an hour, tens of thousands of feet above the ground, some people just can’t get over how annoying the whole process is. Who knew that being a God up the sky would be such a pain in the ass.
  • First-er Class
    We’ve already established that complaining about any aspect of air travel is a White Whine because flying through the air is nothing short of a miracle. But I wanted to make sure I took the time to talk about a subsect of airplane White Whiners who I think deserve extra special treatment. After all, extra special treatment is what they expect. I, of course, refer to those people who complain about flying First Class. Compared to the huddled masses who yearn to breathe (air) free (from the smell of the airplane toilet) back in Coach, flying First Class is an absolute dream. Yet some travelers find their First Class seats lacking for one reason or another, which is kind of like moaning about a filet mignon not being perfectly cooked when everyone else is eating cold McDonald’s.
  • Hotel Haters
    Staying at a hotel is the closest most of us will ever come to living like a rich person. BRING ME FOOD! Right away, sir. CLEAN MY FILTH! Our pleasure. You can even pick up the phone, press “0,” demand insane things of the front desk, and then actually have those demands met (“here are your seventeen tiny shampoos, sir”). Plus, hotel experiences almost always happen when one is traveling, which is always an enviable activity for those of us who are not traveling. And yet, these people still exist.
  • Traffic
    Traffic is a measure of how well a society is doing. In a place where almost nobody can afford a car there shouldn’t be much traffic, right? So we should all look at traffic jams as the net result of our continued prosperity. But we don’t look at it that way because traffic is just the worst. I won’t pretend that traffic isn’t horrible but I think most of us can accept it as a part of life, especially when it is the result of a horrible accident. Most of us can accept that. Not all of us, though...
  • No Service
    If there is one part of our modern world that still confounds me it’s cell phones. I have absolutely no idea how it is even possible to pick up a little piece of plastic, push a few buttons, and talk to someone on the other side of the world... in real time... without any wires. But cellular magic doesn’t come easily to every conjurer. White Whiners in search of service find themselves in precarious situations—often wandering around, cell phone held aloft—searching endlessly for just a few seconds of 3G or 4G. They are like old men walking the beach with metal detectors, hoping to locate some buried LTE frequency out in the middle of nowhere. The good news is that these White Whiners will always find the service they so deeply desire. How do we know? Because as soon as a connection can be made, they hit Twitter and Facebook to tell the harrowing tale of the Time They Only Had One Bar Of Edge.
  • No Tip For You
    If movies and TV are to be believed, when a medieval king did not feel he was being treated properly by an underling he would bellow, “Off with his head!” and a horde of sycophants would whisk the unlucky fellow away to meet God. The days of lopping off the heads of underperforming servants are long gone, but that doesn’t mean the idea of shaming someone lower on the social ladder for poor service has disappeared. Having spent a good amount of my teenage years waiting on people, I know the life of a waiter well. Should you ever return to a restaurant where you stiffed a waiter and get that waiter again, you’ll find that for every percent you left off of a tip, you’ll get an equivalent amount of spit, dishwater, and line-cook sneeze added to your meal. On the house, of course.
  • Waiter Haters
    I remember learning about the Indian caste system in school. Up top were the priests (obviously), followed by the warriors (who probably could have taken that top spot if they really wanted), then the traders (who were too busy counting rupees to care about this whole thing), and finally, down at the bottom of the barrel, were the workmen (just like today!). Then there were people who were not included in the caste system. These people were the untouchables and, as their name implies, they weren’t fit for touching (or talking to or helping or seeing or anything else, really). Our modern world has done away with institutionalized castes in favor of informal ones, but we haven’t gotten rid of the untouchables. They’re still there, only these days we call them waiters. Some people treat waiters with the dignity and respect that every human life deserves. Some people just can’t seem to bring themselves to treat waiters like anything resembling a human being, it seems; and since a waiter is basically a servant slave that you share with everyone else at Denny’s, complaining about one is a certified White Whine.
  • Wine Whine
    Wine has long been the alcoholic drink of the upper crust, since to make it you need a certain type of rotten plant material that is far more difficult to cultivate than the rotten plant materials that create beer, vodka, rum, or whiskey. Because wine has such an elevated culture status, it’s hard not to hear any complaint about wine as a White Whine. Even White Whinier than complaining about the wine is complaining about the wine-drinking lifestyle. Any issue with a home wine cellar, any problems about the order in which to serve the wines, any remorse over an expensive bottle of wine that has oxidized is, of course, a First-World Problem. Why? Because wine is a drink for the rich, beer is a drink for the normal, and water is a drink for the poor. Unless it’s FIJI Water. That’s for the rich, too.
  • White on White: The First-World on Skiing
    Having been surrounded my entire life by enthusiastic skiers—and having been one myself—it’s amazing the extent to which a ski trip can become one gigantic White Whine. The gear itself—from the skis to the poles to the 400 other little things you must buy—is extremely expensive, and all of it is made out of some trademarked material meant to keep its users safe and warm on Earth’s most punishing summits. If you only knew about skiing based on Facebook posts or Twitter rants, you wouldn’t think it was a leisure activity. Instead, you’d think it was some sort of painful Norse punishment reserved for the wickedest thieves and vagrants. But if you ever find yourself listening to a friend bitch and moan about a ski trip and feel the need to punch them in the neck, stop yourself. Remember that for all their obnoxious complaints about the cost, the hassle, the cold, the snow (or lack thereof), the lines, the drive, or the rental house with the all weather hot tub that didn’t even get that hot, there is an underlying truth that will bring a smile to your face: They brought it all on themselves. They paid an arm and a leg—and on a particularly icy mountain, this is often not just an expression—for the privilege of having a horrible weekend.

All images and direct social media content provided by the author as posted on his website, www.whitewhine.com. Author photo courtesy of Noah Kalina.