Category Archives: philosophy

When “First World Problems” really means “shut up”

I have long been annoyed when people try to dismiss an issue by saying what basically amounts to “it doesn’t matter as long as there are worse problems”.

I started thinking about it today when I read Julia Burke’s post on the subject.

It only gets worse when you realize that no one is actually consistent about that. In fact, truly trivial things don’t get the “not as important as starving children” response very much (and if they do is usually even more inconsistent, like people criticizing geeky hobbies but having a blind spot for their own obsession with popular sports). Mostly it seems to be focused on attempts to address what might be called medium-sized injustices.

Human nature

A lot of people seem to think that because they see a substantial amount of bad news, the present is worse than the past. (Of course there have been people saying that in every generation.) And “I’m losing my faith in humanity” is a common sentiment. (Really common: “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” and other such memes are basically variations.)

Hessianwithteeth has a good post arguing against that view.

And then there are people who just claim that people are basically bad and always have been. Some religions endorse this view.

These are two different ideas, but they’re not completely separate. If the world is in fact getting better rather than worse, that is also evidence that people have more goodness than the cynics give them credit for.

Continue reading Human nature

Welcome

Now that I’ve gotten this blog rolling (not to be confused with a blogroll (that’s over on the left (unless I’ve changed things since writing this, in which case it might be on the right (don’t worry, I don’t normally use nested parentheses this much)))), I thought I’d explain the blog title. Basically, aside from being loosely related to my internet name (unless I’ve stopped using that name since writing this (I might want to start using my real (meatspace) name (okay, I’ll stop doing the parenthesis thing now))), it’s the way I feel a lot. Like I’m just beginning to really understand something. And that’s a good thing; if I ever go a long time without feeling that way, it would mean I’ve stopped learning, which would be bad because I know no one can ever actually have all the answers.