Purple Muffalo

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Elite User
1,679 posts
What do you think of this argument? I've seen it a thousand times- someone being sad, or complaining about something, and another person telling them that they have no right to complain, because their problems aren't nearly as bad as people's who are living in China/Africa/etc. They say that if you were there you wouldn't be worried about XYZ.

So. Valid argument, or totally insensitive?

EDIT: And I really mean mentally, not like physical things.

IE: Your problems don't matter, because at least you have food and water and shelter.
Last edited, Jun 6th 2011 @ 10:43 pm
Elite User
4,924 posts
This is on the point of view as an American and of the US. While many other places are just as bad, I can't tell you the rest of their inner workings. I don't live there. Disclaimer over...onto the show.

Actually? The statement is completely true. When people think of becoming dirt poor in the US [not starting from it] as a horrible lifestyle without: TV, Internet, Cellphones, Credit Cards, and Fast Food. I know... we keep dipping down really low in the paycheck and even I complain. Why? Because we have a cushy lil lifestyle. We don't NEED any of those things above and yet we act like its just as important as food and shelter.

A lot of the complaining and tantrums thrown by people in these life styles are pretty ridiculous, and I'm even talkin about my hypocritical ways. The only people who understand is someone like that single mom with 2 kids living on the street, trying to get her kids enough food to keep them away from social services.

This is when you can tell how pathetic we are as human beings: When you don't wanna raise taxes to pay your Firemen, EMTs, Teachers, etc...because then you wouldn't have money to play around on the weekend, or buy that brand new TV that replaces the one that is 5 years old... And they think because if that happens they will be considered "dirt poor" and unable to live life... Look at all the amenities. Look how our lives are made SO much more simple. The money we waste and we COMPLAIN constantly about taxes being too high or not getting paid enough? What's funny is that the people who deserve the money aren't getting it.. not only because we don't want to pay taxes but we don't want to stand together as a country against the stupidity of the popularity contest in congress. Congress tells us what we want as a country and because people label themselves as "Republican" or "Democrat" most of the US rolls over, shows throat, and agrees with them [maybe not agreeing completely..but no one really does anything themselves].

I've lived poor, on more then one occasion. And I mean dirt poor. It sucks. And when you finally have a semi-comfortable lifestyle..you don't wanna let it go. But its a solid fact that we have it better then any third world country out there.

China may be the ONLY exception, just because they are HUGELY happy with their nation and how things are run. They like where they live, they are proud of it..and they are proud of the new technologies and the steps forward it is making. Whether its ignorant or not..

"Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad. That and vodka." — Jim Butcher (Dresden Files: Changes)
Elite User
1,679 posts
Well, haha, I meant... emotional wise. 8D Like someone complains about being depressed due to friends/that kind of stuff, not... physical circumstances. Like, I heard these two kids talking once, and one of them was saying how sad she was because she had been depressed for a long while, and someone she thought she could trust turned out to be spreading rumors behind her back. And the other person responded with: at least you're not in Africa starving, and trying to find food.

Saying that they're insinuating that their problems aren't as big as those in Africa.

On the topic of physical amenities, I totally agree. Complaining about what you have when you live a cushy lifestyle with cellphones/TV's/Computer's etc is pretty... silly. But on the topic of mental things, I don't think you can compare one person's problems to another.

Yes, it's horrible that people around the world don't get adequate food/water/shelter. Yes, that's hard on them and they struggle daily to survive. But problems/feelings are all relative. Something that's devastating to one person may not be to another. Maybe I get hurt by silly rumors, and you don't. That doesn't mean that I'm silly for being hurt by it.

If a person struggles with something, they struggle with it. Just because there are starving people around the world doesn't mean that the person's problems are insignificant, and that they don't have a right to be upset about it. Not getting food can be just as hurtful to someone as, say, losing a best friend. (mentally, not physically)

It's impossible to compare two totally different problems, or to judge and say someone's is worse. Everything is relative.
Elite User
4,924 posts
Well a lot of the emotional aspects of our lives are effected by our physical aspects. True, loosing a friend/family member/ or if something truly horrible to you happens and you become depressed? I can't honestly say that their problems are not worse then those in Africa.

But being depressed is a very broad term. I've been diagnosed as being "Depressed" and in the states depression is largely caused by the fact that we can't be perfect. School and the media paints pictures that tell us how we are supposed to be and we aren't happy. But teenagers are also naturally angsty but society has made it out to be a rather large problem. If you don't have at least one kind of pill in the morning, you are probably the strangest person in the US. So honestly? The depending factor on "depression" would be the actual reason/cause.

Same with complaining. You can be sad and depressed without Internet because "you have nothing to do". Trust me. In which case is both a physical AND emotional state..but the people in Africa? Still got it worse off then you.

Honestly though? I think people and a community with LESS stuff and are closer to each other? Are better off mentally but their problems and their lives are still a lot bigger compared to ours because most mental and emotional states are petty grievances.
"Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad. That and vodka." — Jim Butcher (Dresden Files: Changes)
Elite User
1,679 posts
I'm not talking in regards to physical things, though. Internet ties into the physical, which I agree, compared to Africa/etc isn't bad at all. I'm not talking regarding pills, or what the definition of depression is, or how America is going about treating it all wrong. I'm also not talking worse than. I'm saying that you cannot compare one person's situation to another.

I'm also talking comparing mental state vs. physical aspects of Africa/China. If you're sad about losing a friend, or depressed because your family is fighting (and I use depressed loosely) you cannot compare that to not having food in Africa. Saying "be happy you aren't there" is a silly thing to say. What's hurtful/depressing to one person isn't always hurtful/depressing to another. These things are relative, which is my point.

The way a person grows up/lives affects what hurts them. If losing a friend hurts as much as having no food, then so be it. They're different situations, but just because people have no food doesn't make your problems any less hurtful to you.

It's like fears. Say, for example, I fear spiders. You fear snakes. It's relative; you can't say one person is right or wrong based on their feelings. You also can't really compare two totally different things. Again, what matters is what the person feels. You shouldn't be criticized for feeling something, or told you shouldn't feel that way because people are starving halfway across the world; something many people can do nothing about.

That's like saying you're not allowed to be happy because you've never experienced as much happiness as someone who's won a grammy.

In some ways I'm tempted to say it's impossible to judge on physical aspects, too, as losing a computer to someone who's grown up around them is just as hurtful as, say, someone in Africa losing their home. It's all relative. Sure, it may be silly, and maybe it's not morally right, etc, but you can't judge someone for how they feel.
Last edited, Jun 6th 2011 @ 10:39 pm
Elite User
4,924 posts
But what you are saying makes little sense to the whole "compared to China/Africa/etc your problems aren't as bad." Because that saying doesn't just revolve around people dying or lacking food. Actually lacking food IS a physical state.

And what I said was that so much in our life is tied into our emotional state of being. Internet, School, etc all this effects our emotional and mental state [as it is apart of how we grow up]. As such, its key points in our mental abilities and how we function as a society.

More then not the reason for our emotional state IS due to a physical object, in the US. We have a material attachment, that's just it.
"Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad. That and vodka." — Jim Butcher (Dresden Files: Changes)
Elite User
275 posts
Sei. It's like you live in my head sometimes. Truly.

I am supremely confused at where this discussion is going, but I would like to add my two cents, since I have personal experience with this quote. Also, I am mostly addressing the message in question, not your situation around it. (Adding too many extra details like 'my friend was depressed and her friend said this' makes it less objective)

'Don't complain, because there are a whole lot of people in the world who are less fortunate than you'
This is a maxim that I use very frequently as a means of encouragement. Reworded that way, does it sound better?

I think, Joc, you're misreading the message.You interpret 'Your problems don't matter, because at least you have food and water and shelter.' as suppression, to belittle someone for being human and having feelings. In this case, you focus primarily on the 'Do not complain' portion of the quote, and see it as 'You are not allowed'.

When I use this message, I focus more on the 'there are a whole lot of people in the world who are less fortunate than you' part. I don't use it as an excuse, just a reminder: Sure, you are at a low point now, but you are definitely not rock bottom. Think of the Great Depression, think of [the people of China, Ethiopia, etc.]. They have more reason to be sad and miserable. At least you can be happy for the benefits they don't have.
And this makes me think of the good things I have, like my parents and the fact they accept me; the food on the table, my laptop, my privileges...etc etc.

So yes, if I were in there in poverty, in that true 'rock bottom' form of desperation, then I would excuse myself for a moment. But considering how we're in America, there is always that consideration that, even desperate and homeless, there are still people worse off, so don't waste too much time being upset or you won't move forward. (Which would be disadvantageous in such an economy/lifestyle.)

I'm not saying it is wrong to be depressed, or upset about something. Everyone needs catharsis to live healthily. Just don't muddle too long in it. That isn't healthy either. Take heart that you still have reasons to be happy compared to others who don't have what you have...sort to speak.

To answer your question, I think it is a valid argument. Insensitive, but a good point; like knocking yourself back to reality. At least, this is how I use it.

(lol I'm totally the type of friend who tells their friends to stop complaining. OTL In retrospect, I was pretty mean of me, but the longer they worry, the more worried and agitated I get. This is mostly when they are moping and complaining when it is obvious that they could do something about it-- like being depressed about not having a job when they could just look for one)

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Last edited, Jun 7th 2011 @ 5:30 am
Elite User
2,058 posts
I personally think the "Compared to Africa, your problems aren't so bad" argument is silly to use. If someone was very depressed, telling them that someone out there has it worse isn't going to cheer them up. It might do the opposite, actually- who wants to think about innocent kids dying of AIDS when they're already upset?

The argument is definitely valid- most people in Africa have it worse than we do- but I don't see it being helpful in most cases. When you're broken up about your significant other just cheated on you, thinking of how much better off you are than the people on another continent won't do jack. On the other hand, if you think your life sucks because you're not allowed to get that fancy new phone, you could take the "Africans have it worse" argument as a reminder. Comparatively, you have it much better off possession-wise than they do, and you really don't need a fancy new iPhone.

As Dametora said on dA:
Said I to my therapist, "What right have I to feel sad?"
Said my therapist to me, "How is my broken leg going to cure your poison ivy?"

How is the fact someone may have it worse supposed to take away all your problems?
It can't.
Your problems and feelings aren't invalidated because someone else may have it worse. Hell for all you know they may think YOU have it worse.

Certainly there are times when we should suck it up, but bottling up our emotions and pretending our problems aren't problems because they're not "serious enough" doesn't help anyone, especially not yourself.

Last edited, Jul 27th 2011 @ 2:58 pm
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