En*ti*tle*ment

I’m still basically a lurker on Twitter, but I’ve come to appreciate one particular hashtag, one that I also see used a lot on FriendFeed:

#firstworldproblem

It’s a nicely terse way of saying, “Yeah, I know that this thing I’m carping about is pretty much irrelevant in the overall scheme of things, and would be laughed at by anybody in countries that aren’t absurdly wealthy. But I’m going to carp about it anyway.”

I can appreciate the sentiment. At times–I think more so in the past–people can get a little holier-than-thou in dismissing complaints. “What? The fries on your $50 steak frites aren’t as crisp as they should be? Millions of children are starving in [name your favorite third-world nation]!”

On the other hand, I admit to getting a little tired lately of what seem to be more and more posts, tweets and status updates that strike me as

#entitlementblues

Which is to say: “The universe revolves around me, dammit, and I will bitch about anything that fails to take my exalted status into account.” And also: “If I was getting an absurd bargain and somebody wants to charge a rational price instead, they’re harshing my cool and should be pummelled mercilously.” And more along those lines.

#entitlementblues also means you can ignore facts and wildly misstate figures because, after all, you’re entitled. So, to use one example, an increase of 60% becomes “doubling.”

You bought an expensive toy that requires wifi, and some place you go to either doesn’t have wifi or doesn’t have free wifi? Bitch about it, long and loud: That’s the #entitlementblues.

You like paying $9.99 for an ebook that would be $20 in hardbound, and it goes up to $15–which is still more of a discount than the likely cost differential for the physical object (almost never more than 1/7th of the purchase price, so less than $3 in this case)? Bitch about it, long and loud: That’s the #entitlementblues.

Do I actually hope to see a reduction in #entitlementblues posts and tweets? Nah–and they’re fun to snark about. Heck, for that matter, “This freebie online service isn’t working precisely the way I think it should work” is a classic #entitlementblues…and just watch the furor if that free service goes away or starts charging!

(Do I post messages sometimes that may be #entitlementblues? Yeah, probably.)

3 Responses to “En*ti*tle*ment”

  1. Seth Finkelstein Says:

    There’s a whole subfield of research on this in “behavioral finance”, trying to catalog the quirks of what people consider a problem. It turns out to be very complicated, with all sorts of interesting cognitive rules.

  2. Jeff Scott Says:

    I’ve come back to this post and mentioned in conversation a few times since you posted. I am reminded of this problem everyday. I may just print it out and hang it on my wall. Thank you for posting this.

  3. walt Says:

    Thanks both.


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