The progress from first world problems

One of my favourite thinkers, Virginia Postrel, has a great take on how this Christmas's UPS next-day-delivery failure is actually a vital step in world progress:

Counting your blessings is always a good idea, but calling the Christmas delivery breakdown a "first world problem" points to what's wrong with that criticism. We want first world reliability, and if the public just shrugged when things went wrong we wouldn't get it.
The instinctive reaction when UPS delivers your friend's purchases 1-3 days late is to snark about "first world problems", but Postrel point out that actually this kind of demand is what drives most if not all of modern progress. In software, for example, many of the key leaps forward have been due to someone dissatisfied with the obstructions that current technology put in their way. Larry Wall was dissatisfied with shell scripting and ended up inventing the programming language Perl which glues together too many websites to count; Donald Knuth put together the TeX typesetting language because he was dissatisfied with the mathematic typesetting available to him writing The Art of Computer Programming ; Linus Torvalds created Linux because the existing Unix operating systems weren't sufficiently accessible for tinkering.

We should therefore complain when life falls short of our expectations, no matter how wonderful our current situation would be to someone from 20 years in the past or a thousand miles in the distance:

Complaining about small annoyances can be demoralizing and obnoxious, but demanding complacency is worse. The trick is to simultaneously remember how much life has improved while acknowledging how it could be better. In the new year, then, may all your worries be first world problems.
By the time Christmas 2014 rolls around, UPS will have a lower-latency method of tracking its order load versus maximum capacity, and be able to either buy up additional delivery capacity from other mail firms or start to signal to retailers that it will not be able to deliver goods next-day. This way customers will have a better delivery experience, and technological progress will have been achieved.

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