October 4, 2012; Source: Advertising Age

You may have seen the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag on Twitter, generally accompanying whiny tweets from privileged individuals about matters such as the long line at Starbucks or Netflix taking too long to send a DVD in the mail. The nonprofit Water Is Life has launched a new online advocacy campaign that riffs on the popular hashtag to bring attention to its cause: to “provide life-giving clean water solutions” to those in need. The campaign presents the juxtaposition of those whose major problem is a lack of clean drinking water reading actual “first world problems” into the camera. You can watch one of the campaign videos here:

To be fair, those who have used the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag are clearly (we hope!) doing so in an ironic way, saying, “Look, I know this is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but…” As such, the Water Is Life campaign’s guilt trip seems a little heavy-handed. However, in latching on to a popular meme, Water Is Life is effectively drawing attention to its cause (hey, you’ve just read about it, right?), so while we don’t think that whiny tweeters should go home and beat themselves up, it is appropriate and necessary for nonprofits such as Water Is Life to regularly remind those with “first world problems” about their real and pressing counterparts in the developing world. Maybe Water Is Life or some other charity will take it a step further and suggest that anyone who uses the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag should do so only at the cost of a “pay to whine” donation to a charity working on real developing world problems. –Mike Keefe-Feldman