Today’s admission of privilege

I get annoyed every time I have to scroll down a drop down menu to find “United States” because it’s not automatically listed at the top. And every time I have to remind myself how stupid it is to get annoyed.

Feel free to admit little privileged things you do in the comments.


  1. Forbidden Snowflake says

    In most drop-down menus, you can press ‘u’ to get to the countries that begin with U, and scroll from there, which is faster.

  2. Pen says

    When my husband was applying for a French passport they couldn’t even find ‘Etats-Unis’ (USA)in their birth place drop down list and seriously suggested to him that he might like to make do with Eritrea or Afghanistan instead.

  3. shouldbeworking says

    My experience that the choice USA comes up automatically and then I have to go way up to Canada.

  4. Gwynnyd says

    It bugs me more when it is a scroll down list ONLY and I have to take my hands off the keyboard and pick up the mouse to scroll down and select it rather than type in USA or the state abbreviation or whatever. I know they do it for consistency, still …. Does that make me “keyboardist”?

  5. Brownian says

    Does waking up in a politically stable and relatively safe country, commuting for a quarter of an hour on well-maintained roads in well-maintained public transit operated by trained operators to my government job with benefits, then commuting back home to my rented spacious full floor of a house in a fun, bohemian neighbourhood to be with my girlfriend with whom I can choose to be married or not count?

    If not, I can add in any number of things I don’t have to worry about because of my sexual, ethnic, national, and geographical luck.

    But I do get annoyed when “United States” does appear at the top of a drop-down list, as I imagine the other 6.5 billion of us non-USAnians do on occasion. Also, can’t use Hulu.

  6. freemage says

    I make… not much money. My wife makes more (though getting out of the college debt that was incurred getting her to that point removes a chunk of the advantage so gained). But overall, we’re pretty much holding on paycheck to paycheck, like a lot of other folks.

    So I’ve had weeks where I literally had no spare change in my pockets, and others where I opted to not pass out what I do have to the panhandlers that are part-and-parcel of city living.

    But because I DO recognize that it’s privilege that kept me from that fate, I frequently do toss some change into one or more cups when I’ve got it (oddly, I’m most generous in the few days before payday, when I’m struggling the most, if the money’s there; when I’ve just been paid and am comparatively flush, I’m more likely to be stingy and resentful of being asked–I suppose this, too, is a form of privilege manifesting). And even if I’m not passing out quarters, I usually try to at least acknowledge the request with a polite, “Sorry, not tonight.” (It’s amazing in a depressing way just how many seem gratified simply to be noticed, actually.)

    But beyond that, after getting more involved in skeptical thought, I started analyzing my giving habits, and found some odd things that I couldn’t explain readily:

    1: I’m definitely biased in my giving towards panhandlers who make some sort of effort to be cheerful or friendly. On one level, this makes sense; on another, it’s presumptuous in the “You should smile more, Miss,” fashion. At its worst, it can even seem to echo a sort of “sing for your supper” mentality.

    2: I am more likely to casually give change to men than to women. This one shocked me more when I realized it–I thought I was an ally, dammit! Some of it has to do with the first point–women who have been forced to resort to panhandling are often more prone to be withdrawn, most likely as a survival tactic on the streets, and thus are less likely to fit my bias towards friendly extroverts.

    3: I’ve got a bunch of semi-consciously formed “rules” about when I’m willing to heed a plea for spare change. Some of these are sensible, if a bit regrettable–for instance, I don’t reach for money if there’s multiple panhandlers in the immediate area. Others are somewhat petulant–don’t make me walk around you to get someplace; if I feel like I’m being blocked, I’ll be less likely to even acknowledge you. And one, in particular, really does reek of privilege–I never give on the train or on the platform. I’ll cheerfully toss a coin or three to someone on the street outside, but once I’m ON the train, someone walking from one seat to another is most likely going to just get a curt head-shake from me, rather than even my usual polite decline. Something about being on the train and en route makes me feel more put-upon by a panhandler.

    I’m still working out a strategy for addressing this in my own brain–I’ve started trying to make sure that if I’ve got the change, I take routes where I know women panhandle specifically (lots of panhandlers seem to have picked out specific spots, and the women favor one stretch of Michigan Ave–again, I suspect for safety reasons, as it’s well-traveled even in the later evening hours).

  7. freemage says

    Oh–and if anyone knows a more acceptable word than “panhandler”, I’ll happily take suggestions. While obviously better than “beggar” and infinitely beyond “bum”, it still seems slightly… off to me.

  8. Curt Nelson says

    Me too! But I tell myself that, as a percentage, there must be more US users than most other places, so I shouldn’t have to scroll down so far.

  9. Pteryxx says

    Re panhandlers: In Dallas, they’re usually working busy intersections. I keep an envelope or sandwich bag in the car with a few dollars (when I have them) and a snack bar or dried fruit, customer-loyalty coupons for free stuff, and often an apple or orange.

    Bit o’ privilege… sometime yesterday I realized that Hispanic names often have two last names, one maternal and one paternal. Yet online forms (and paper ones) always have “First name” and “Last name”. How is that fair?

  10. Cuttlefish says

    Hell, I feel privileged to only have to scroll down a little from Ed’s blog to mine, and not all the freaking way down here to Blag Hag. Or further!

  11. Matt Penfold says

    The thing that annoys me are Americans who think England is a synonym for Britain, or even the UK. Well, it is not only Americans of course, but they do seem to be the worst offenders.

    Another thing that annoys me is when filling an address form on the Internet is to be asked for a “zip code” when you have already selected “United Kingdom” from the country list. The UK does not use zip codes, and someone designing such forms should know that.

  12. Alan(UK) says

    I could say what I think but for now I will just say, if the United States of America thought that they should be No.1, why did they not just name it ‘AAAAAAmerica, States United of’?

  13. Computer guy says

    Well, now that you have already gone ahead and scrolled all the way down to find United States, I figured I might as well let you know that hitting “u” on your keyboard will do most of the scrolling for you. You know, so you feel more annoyed next time you scroll and then remember that :P

  14. michaeld says

    I try doing that for canada but it always brings me to cambodia and I have to scroll down! Stupid cambodians >.> :P

  15. Rieux says

    why did they not just name it ‘AAAAAAmerica, States United of’?

    If I remember my American history, Jefferson did try that. The Yellow Pages people cited a policy that a name can’t begin with more than three “A”s and rejected it.

  16. sqlrob says

    You have perfectly valid reasons to be annoyed.

    The server could easily preselect based on your IP.

    Similar nit: Why do I have to fill in city state and zip? Get it from the zip dammit. Yeah, you might have to allow editing of the city, but I don’t know of any zips that cross states.

  17. says

    I tend to use ‘homeless person’ or ‘person living on the street’.

    I’m more likely to duck into the nearest sandwich shop and buy a homeless person food and a hot drink. I know that’s paternalistic, but I’ve seen too many people on the streets OD, or use drugs and then freeze to death. I know what they do with their money should be their choice, but the thought of the money I give contributing to their death – I just can’t do it.

  18. selfification says

    Privilege or not, that’s an example of a sub-optimal design. Drop down boxes are notorious for being difficult to use for more than a few items – and even then you can argue that radio buttons are better unless you are really space constrained.

    A better way to do it is to provide a “Country” text field that produces drop-down auto-complete results. The frequency with which users use a particular country should be used to score the positioning of the various suggestions. If one wants to get even better, the various suggestions should be binned based on geographic locality based on IP address or even based on the which server is serving up the material – much like how a search for google gives you in Germany and in the US.

  19. Nick says

    You can use your keyboard to select items in a drop-down list. After tabbing to the drop-down from a previous field, start typing “United States” until it is selected. You can then tab to the next field and continue the form.

  20. Rabidtreeweasel says

    I took my dog to the park today. We tripped and got muddy, so I took him to the bathroom to clean him and my shoes. I’m on a car trip, so I have car trip hair and clothes right now, but it was a rest stop so I didn’t think much of it. While I was wiping my shoes a little girl opened the door, than left right away. A few minutes later I came out and she was waiting out there with an adult. As we passed she child-whispered, “The homeless lady left can I go now?” For a brief moment I was angry, but it transitioned quickly into embarassment. As I got into my car with my dog, where my ipod, coffee, smart phone, and pizza waited it occurred to me how demoralizing it must be to hear that kind of crap every. Damn. Day.

  21. Kels says

    I’m always unaccountably pleased when Canada is at the top of the list along with the US, to save me scrolling. It’s the little things.

  22. Ananila says

    My friends and I always use ‘spare-changers’ and ‘spare-changing’ when referring to people who are on the street (for whatever reason) and asking for spare change.

    I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to give change in those last few days before payday, though I’m more ‘biased’ towards women spare-changing on their own, followed by buskers, folks with amusing signs or good attitudes, and people with small kids.

  23. E.A. Blair says

    My late wife was a sucker for panhandlers, so one time when we were on out way to a movie, a scruffy-looking man approached us and asked for “…a couple of quarters or a dollar for bus fare…” (adult fare at that time was $1.50). She was getting ready to dive into her purse, but I pre-empted her by reaching into my pocked and giving him a fare token – worth a full fare and more than he asked for. He looked at it, then dropped it on the sidewalk and walked away. He didn’t want fare, of course. The incident did ghange my wife’s mind about panhandling.

    Does anyone remember a sketch from the old “Red Skelton Show” that featured his hobo character Freddy The Freeloader titled “Panhandle With Care”?

  24. E.A. Blair says

    THat won’t work if you are a careful internet user and connect through ananymous proxy serves (as everyone should so Big Brother can’t track you as easily).

  25. says

    So every form should know about every state, province, city, block, street in the world and which zip/postal codes correspond with that? Or just those in the US?

  26. christophburschka says

    I just memorized that it takes four presses of “G” to get to “Gabon”, “Gambia”, “Georgia”, “Germany”.

    In this age of omnipresent ajax, many sites have already replaced the drop-down with an autocompleted text field like selfification describes. Some will even look up my IP and fill it out for me, which is very convenient (and a bit creepy).

  27. hkdharmon says

    I went for a long walk once in Reno, NV in a pair of new sandals without socks and developed a nasty blister on my foot (dumb move). I sat down, out of everyone’s way in a breezeway, and took my sandal off to see just how bad the damage was and to decide if I should take a bus or a taxi home, when a woman walked by, looked at me, and said “Get a job.”
    I happened to be across the street from the casino where I was a blackjack dealer. In fact, I recognized the woman as one of my regular customers. I suppose it shows, maybe just a little, how social roles can disguise the person.

  28. says

    Not really a privilege, but it annoys me when people call the Netherlands ‘Holland’, especially when they themselves are Dutch (Holland instead of Nederland). Holland is only a part of the Netherlands, two provinces of a total of 12 to be precise.

    I know I can’t really blame foreigners who use Holland for the Netherlands, but still…

  29. Stevarious says

    I was ringing up a customer in a wheelchair the other day and I remarked that the weather was so unseasonably warm that I might go for a walk after I got off and babbled for a minute about how much I was looking forward to it now that I’d thought of it.

    I didn’t realize what I’d done for hours.

    I am a horrible person.

  30. mtlskepticblog says

    Interesting. Being from Canada, I’m always annoyed that United States comes up before Canada…

  31. Gribbleshnibit says

    I was going to say that exact thing (in a less technical manner). It really is a shame that in an age of location aware everything, web pages still don’t know what country I’m in, but my phone can peg my location to less than half a kilometer (on network location) or less. Really no excuse for that.

  32. says

    I always get annoyed when my wifi connection shuts off and I have to reset the device. This frequently happens several times a night because the device is a piece of crap. I frequently find myself feeling all put-upon and underserved because my Internet won’t stay connected long enough for me to complete a blog post. It’s probably a good thing I live alone, because a roommate would get tired of my snarling at the wifi box really quick.

    So, here’s the tally: I have a safe enough place to live, all by myself, that I can just come home and forget about everything outside, I have a functioning computer, I have a portable wifi connection that gets the job done…and I feel all used and ill-treated because the portable device isn’t reliable. It doesn’t cost anything to reset except a couple minutes of my time. This is the very definition of “First World Problems.”

  33. Andy says

    Privilege time: It bugs me when I can’t find enough space in my freezer to hold all of my food. It’s almost as annoying as the unbearably long 2 or 3 minutes the microwave takes to give me my food. I mean, c’mon, it’s totally unreasonable that I don’t have access to food for 3 whole minutes, or the that it takes ten whole seconds of clean, fresh water running out of the spout in my kitchen before the water is cold enough to drink.

  34. annie says

    I once went to watch my old soccer team play (I had to quit the team because of an injury). I was blathering on and on about how bummed I was that I could no longer play to my teammate’s girlfriend… who gets around via wheelchair, and will for the rest of her life. She was so gracious and never held it against me, but I still feel like such a jerk when I remember that morning.

  35. Stevarious says

    Oooh, let me help! To correct the problem, you would have to purchase a $30 device – an almost trivial amount of money for most people on this site, but several WEEKS pay to the guy who assembled it!

  36. says

    It bugs me when they force you to use a drop down, but haven’t actually supplied the option that you need to select. Like if they’re asking what university I attended (I moved to the States from New Zealand), there’s not an option to say that I attended an overseas university. Or if they’re asking for my highest qualification, and there’s no option for “other” (I did a papers-only masters which is NEVER available as an option).

  37. Ringo says

    I get annoyed when the US is the only country not listed alphabetically in drop down menus because the world revolves around it. :)

  38. sqlrob says

    How many of those db are available? No one should have to do it from scratch.

    For the ones that are selling things, they already need something like that for tax info.

  39. eigenperson says

    I hope that the next time you saw her at the blackjack table, you said, “Thanks! I took your advice.”

  40. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    My wheelchair-bound niece would have been appreciative that you accepted her as normal. She knows you can walk. She knows you probably enjoy it sometimes, as she did before the MS limited her. There is no sin in sharing your experiences with people who cannot participate in them.

    Her most frequent complaint is with people who think she needs to be mollycoddled because she uses wheeled locomotion instead of bipedal.

  41. says

    I dunno what you all are on about. Everyone knows that when this great nation was founded ‘U’ was the first letter of the alphabet, and this was only changed in the 1960’s by the Atheist Muslim Communist Fascists that secretly stole this country from real Americans.

  42. Richard Payne says

    Consider yourself lucky. Here in the UK, not only are not at the top of the list but we have guess whether each particular site will list us under U for UK, G for Great Britain or E for England. Oh, and a hint for American web designers es, we don’t all use the same postal code format.

  43. says

    I do actually kind of like seeing the other countries on the drop-down menu. I mostly see these menus on sites of scientific societies and supply companies. It is kind of nice to be reminded that you’re working in a larger community. Takes the weight off.

  44. says

    Actually, that’s what they recommend doing in Santa Cruz where I went to college. The town/city has a huge homeless population and there are a number of panhandlers on the streets and the signs can be as frank as “Why lie? I want a beer.” The homeless organizations recommend asking if we can buy them food or something like that instead of just giving them our spare change. (I had a cousin who lived on the streets of Santa Cruz until he died so it’s kind of personal for me.)

    Where I live now, there are a number of homeless people who hang out on freeway exits or who rummage through trash cans to find aluminum cans to get money for recycling them. I keep a stash of granola bars in my car to give out because I feel like I’m at least meeting a basic need that way.

  45. Nentuaby says

    Above answer good only for sufficiently well-designed browsers. Internet Explorer and a few others, sadly, aren’t that smart– Typing “un” will first scroll to the first U country, then to the first N country.

  46. Beth says

    Seriously, most standard disability etiquette guides, if they mention such language at all, it’s in the context of things not to worry about. It’s pretty awkward to have someone “correct” their language where they needn’t. Many (most?) people that use wheelchairs have nothing against going for walks and blind people, in general, have no problem seeing what someone means. Don’t worry about it. Heck, if you go out of your way to use different terms there just because someone has a disability it’s a dead giveaway that you’re focusing on the disability! Really, don’t worry about it.

    If you want to do something simple for people with mobility impairments and you live in a place that is attempting to be accessible, I can give you something to do. Check supposedly accessible stalls/bathrooms. If it’s hard to close, open, or lock from a seated height or if the space is smallish and the door opens in, notify the management. You wouldn’t believe how often there’s an issue of simple hardware. I promise, it’ll mean a lot more than saying (or not saying) “walk”.

  47. Gwynnyd says

    Er, yes. I did say “only”. I hate it when I start typing and nothing happens and then I have to grab the mouse.

  48. says

    Sure, it’s a sub-optimal design – but have you ever tried to get a client to pay for such a thing? They’ll look at you like you’re nuts or trying to con them. I agree that a better design is needed; but unless its already included in whatever framework(s) you are using (or have developed), good luck getting a client to sign off on it. Hopefully you -may- have time to add it to the framework you’re developing (sure you will, right after this current project).

  49. Marshall says

    I’ve just come from here. I live in Nevada. The worst I have to worry about when I post my opinion on Facebook is snide remarks from family and friends. Sometimes I get very annoyed. But I have never been afraid that I would be arrested for it. Seriously, I am one fortunate atheist…

    I also had a major realization of unrecognized privilege after reading Cromm’s excellent ‘Shuffling Feet’. Seriously eye opening, for me and a friend.

  50. Snowshoe the Canuck says

    Our Canadian postal codes have a space in them etween the two blocks of three characters. Some drop down menus don’t allow for that. And the 2 letter abbreviation for where I live is AB, not AL or AR or AK.

  51. ckitching says

    “Sub-optimal design”. Personally, I like the sites that make you register before you can start the checkout process, give you a huge list of countries during the account creation process. It’s an especially nice touch when you’re only informed after you’ve entered all this information that they do not ship to your country. Extra points if they required that you enter payment information before letting you know they don’t want to sell to you.

  52. Christian says

    Austria is worse. Obviously, when it’s listed under “Austria” it’s near the top, which is fine. However the fun begins when it’s listed under the German name “Österreich”, as nobody seems to know how to sort the letter “Ö”. It can be somewhere hidden in the O’s (hi Oman!) or it can be completely at the bottom. After Z! I don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted in my life just searching my home country when filling out lists…

  53. AndyC says

    What bugs me is when it defaults to United States at the top of the list. Is this assuming most visitors will be Americans, or that most Americans can’t cope with the concept of other countries actually existing? :-)

  54. Chris says

    When I applied to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) I was peeved that they listed my country as just the “United States”, and left off the “of America” bit. Though I admit it was because I once lived in los Estados Unidos de Venezuela (and the USA is known as los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica).

    There are states that are united in other areas!

  55. Anat says

    I’m afraid that in Hebrew the only name for your country is ‘Holland’, sorry. But in English both names exist so in this language the difference matters.

  56. RosieCotton says

    I had the experience the other day of a man approaching me to ask for money while I was sitting alone inside in a restaurant. I was actually almost offended (more so probably because I was the ONLY person he approached because I was the only white person in the restaurant, and yes there were several men in the restaurant without company) so I can completely understand the “don’t invade my world when I’m on the train reading/absorbed in my phone”
    I actually almost never give when people ask for money, but the rare occasion someone has approached me in a fast food parking lot asking for food I always let them order something (Nothing over 5 bucks though) and I’m much more likely to help a woman on the streets than a man. Being a woman all by yourself and having a man approach you to ask for money can sometimes be pretty scary, but I don’t feel that same threat when it comes to women asking me. My favorite thing to do when I’m visiting Vegas is to keep a few icy bottles of water in the car to offer anyone in the medians. Some of them are very grateful (and sometimes get money because they aren’t being jerks) and some of them tell me to fuck off, thus earning my rolled up window.

  57. Aliasalpha says

    Well as an Australian I suppose I have the privilege of almost inevitably winning the “I get more fucked over on prices than you do despite the fact our curency is near parity” game with almost everyone. If I’m playing against an american and buying digitally distributed games from major publishers such as activision, I’m utterly unbeatable.

    To be honest its a privilege I’d happily surrender in favour of equality.

  58. Aliasalpha says

    Assuming that the guy who assembled it wasn’t working for foxconn, then he might just have killed himself

  59. says

    I normally find that websites have their first two countries as the U.K. and the U.S.A. and then start goign alphabetically from there. Either way, South Africa is normally quite a long scroll down, or is confusingly called the “Republic of South Africa”

  60. pascal says

    But the thing is: if the site lists the US specially at the top, it’s probable most visitors want to select it. So it’s not 6.7bn people who have to scroll. When ordering something from a web shop in Austria, they always auto select Austria as your country, because they nearly never ship abroad, so 99.9% of their customers don’t even have to bother. That’s just good design, I don’t think it has anything to do with privilege.

  61. danmanthey says

    This certainly happens, but I’ve also seen what was obviously the opposite. I’ve had somebody near a subway entrance, looking too well-groomed to be homeless, but obviously very tired, asking for exactly $1.15, while holding what was almost certainly $1.10 in varied coins. It seemed pretty darned likely that he was actually going to use it for fare, which is $2.25.

  62. danmanthey says

    Seriously, why would “beggar” be a bad description of somebody about whom the only thing you know is that they’re begging?

  63. danmanthey says

    We programmers call the option that puts it after Z “asciibetical” (pronounced A-ski-bet-ick-l). Another symptom of this is that capitalization matters, so “Foo” sorts after “Bar”, but before “bar”.

    (Strictly speaking, O-umlaut isn’t part of the ASCII code, so in this case the problem should be named “unicodibetical”, or “utf8ical”, or “latin-one-ibetical” or something, but those are to hard to say.)

  64. says

    I know there are many languages where ithere’s only the name Holland, Hollanda, or something similar, but many languages also have their own version of ‘Nederland’: Netherlands, Niederlande, Pays-Bas.

    My annoyance is mainly about English and Dutch ;)

  65. echidna says

    Well, Aliasalpha, we have the privilege of living on the arse end of the world, so to speak.

  66. says

    In the Netherlands this kind of data only became available for free recently. I can imagine that there are many countries where you still have to pay for such data. Then there’s the problem that the data needs to be up-to-date. Especially if zip/postal codes are at street level, databases can run out-of-date quite fast.

    Covering the whole world can get quite expensive and a pain in the ass to maintain. And if the database is out-of-date you’re probably doing the user a disservice as well.

  67. Ramel says

    I get annoyed when a website asks me to choose my preferred language, and puts a US flag next to English.

  68. says

    A bit tangental, but still on the topic of privilege.

    Louis CK has a bit about time travel, and how it’s always awesome to be a time traveller who is white.

    I don’t think he mentions that it’s awesome if you’re white and a guy.

  69. says

    It drives me insane when faculty members refuse to learn how to make things work and feel their crisis is by far the most important thing EVER.

  70. Change says

    Being able-bodied and speaking English as my primary language

    When I first moved to Germany, I only knew a couple of German phrases and I used to (still do sometimes) get somewhat annoyed when I didn’t get service at a restaurant/store/etc. in English. Privilege: I could just move to a new country without even the basic knowledge of the local language.

    I was miserable in my first couple of months in Germany because I had trouble getting to know people. There was a woman who I used to see regularly at my bus stop on my way to work. So I decided to strike up a conversation and realized that she was hard-of-hearing. She couldn’t read my lips because I spoke shitty German with a terrible accent and she didn’t know English. This totally made me examine my privilege. Even with my handicap of lack of German knowledge, I was having an easier time than she did. And I have a choice; she doesn’t. I can leave Germany and go to an English-speaking country.

  71. Svlad Cjelli says

    It’s not their money if you haven’t given it to them, and don’t even plan to, so “do what they want” doesn’t apply. They can still do whatever they want with their food, though. A sandwich or paper bag is portable and tradeable.

    I’m offended all the time. Sometimes because I don’t have food every time I want a meal.
    Sometimes because the world wants to oppress my freedom to use telekinesis.
    Sometimes because time doesn’t shut up and wait in the corner.

  72. Svlad Cjelli says

    Beggar sounds a hell of a lot less derogatory than “panhandler”, but I don’t know the history.

  73. Svlad Cjelli says

    European part-time spaniard here. I can’t speak for the various uses on american continents, but here it’s equivalent. Mat/Pat is personal trivia; nobody in particular is going to ask or care in everyday life.

    If your mother’s name is G. and your father’s name is S., your (functionally one) name is S. G., or possibly G. S., or even hyphenated.

    Multi-names are also not exclusively hispanic. I grew up in the vicinity of a few Frick-Haglund.

  74. says

    It annoys me quite a bit more than it should when my cell phone refuses to place calls within my own area code, when I’m physically within said area code, unless I enter said area code. Typing in three more digits apparently requires more patience than I’m willing to allow for phone use.

  75. Georgia Sam says

    Probably the thing I hate most in everyday life is backed-up traffic. HATE it. But hey, I’m sitting in a comfortable, reliable, relatively safe automobile that I was able to buy without too much financial stress, as I have done my entire adult life (and my parents before me). That’s big-time privilege relative to a large majority of the world’s population.

  76. says

    I used to take for granted being able to take a crap inside until BCT. Let me tell you, once you have to dig a hole yourself, pop a squat in the middle of the woods, and use MRE toilet paper to wipe you begin to appreciate indoor plumbing quite a bit more. Heck, even porta-johns.

  77. jolo5309 says

    I am friends with the owners of a (Canadian) board game publishing company. When they release their games the rules come in multiple languages. The English rules for their games have a Canadian flag, now imagine the uproar because it was the US flag…

  78. ButchKitties says

    I always find myself annoyed when entering zip codes for Canada or the UK. I vastly prefer purely numeric zip codes, which allow me to enter the data one-handed using the keypad. Having to use both hands on the keyboard to enter an alpha-numeric zip code? The horror!

  79. says

    Well, I was buying something from a UK site that was in pounds, yet I still was annoyed…so I think that’s the point.

  80. Pteryxx says

    Check supposedly accessible stalls/bathrooms. If it’s hard to close, open, or lock from a seated height or if the space is smallish and the door opens in, notify the management.


    I carry a small screwdriver and tend to fix random bathroom stall locks, but I never thought to focus on the accessible ones. I will now!

  81. John Horstman says

    You’re making a huge and frequently-erroneous assumption here: panhandlers (It just struck me – does the etymology have something to do with Florida or Oklahoma? Or is it related to a practice of holding a pan out into which people can put change?) are homeless. When I was an unemployed high school and college student, I went busking or straight-up begging at times with friends to get money for cigarettes, but I had a place to live. “Beggar” is accurate – if it sounds derogatory it’s because the thing it’s describing is marginalized/denigrated, not because the term is inherently hateful.

    Also, one friend carries bus tickets specifically to give to people if they ask for change for the bus (sometimes they’re legitimately looking for bus fare, though less often than not), and I have another friend who always offers to buy the person a sandwich or muffin if they ask for money for food (surprisingly – to me at least – more people refuse this one than the bus ticket; everyone needs to eat, and that’s less money spent on food that could then be spent on alcohol or other drugs if that’s the real intent; I’D totally take a free sandwich, even though I can afford my own if I want one these days). Back when I was driving a car, I’d offer people rides if they asked for bus fare, and I had a few takers, though more refusals. I highly recommend the first two strategies if you’re concerned with only giving money to people with what you feel are legitimate needs (the last one is potentially dangerous, so I won’t recommend it – one guy warned me to use a specific route out of his neighborhood to minimize the possibility of carjacking, and another time I’m pretty sure I was taking a junkie to her dealer’s house, given how much my passenger was tweaking).

  82. says

    I hit that in Australia and New Zealand while I was there. The first time I did it I blinked and couldn’t figure out why it was different; the second time, I realized the thought process and laughed my ass off at myself. Privilege, indeed!

    I also had an international student inform me in no uncertain terms that the phone number fields in our Affiliation Renewals (over at SSA) were US-only. Oops.

  83. Stevarious says

    What bugs ME is when there’s one option for English (U.S.) and another option for English (International).

    Is that to imply that American English is somehow different from the rest of the world? Or do they just use smaller words in the American version of the site, because Americans are stupid?

  84. E.A. Blair says

    The reason American English uses different spellings has to do with the fact that at the time of colonization there was no standard dictionary However, when Mr. Johnson wrote his dictionary in England, he favored Frenchified spellings which had been introduced in the eighteenth century while Mr. Webster preferred the older forms which had been in use when the American colonies were being established. Both these mens’ dictionaries became the standard for their respective countries, and England’s standards were exported to their various colonies, whereas the US didn’t start getting colonial until the 1890s.

    In fact, American English more accurately reflects the standards of the spoken language of seventeenth and early eighteenth century England than current British (or International) English does. If you want to find out more, read chapter one of Patricia O’Connor’s book, “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language”. I’m sure it’s available on Amazon, but I got a copy from my local library.

  85. Stevarious says

    Wait wait wait waitt wait. Wait.

    This is a thing? And there’s books about it?

    So which is more priviligey? That I didn’t know about this? Or that I have the leasure to stop by my library and track down this book?

  86. Jim Murrey says

    I feel privileged every time I turn the thermostat on to make it warmer or cooler than the temperature outside, and when take a shower (especially with hot water). I especially feel privileged when I put on clothes fresh out of the dryer. For a long time we had none of these things and I realized how much I had taken them for granted in the past.

  87. Flora says

    BaisBlackfingers, I’m the same way. For a second I think, ‘Oy, how annoyingly inconvenient’; then I think, ‘What a dopey American I am!’; then I kind of enjoy finding my country’s appropriate place in the list.

    You’re right, it IS kind of nice to be reminded that you’re not in the only place that counts. We Americans need to be reminded more often.

    It reminds me that some comedian (whom?) said ‘War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.’

  88. Cara says

    Drop-down menus containing all the countries in the world are seriously bad design, but I guess we’ve all gotten used to bad design on the web. Anyway, alphabetical order is not written in stone or ancient texts from desert nomads, and a lot of web services know that 95%+ of their users come from a handful of countries: it’s most sensible, in those cases, to put those countries first, because of the ancient and hallowed design principle that the most common use cases should be easier to get to than the less common ones. If one has a truly international web service and feels compelled to use a drop-down menu for countries, I’d suggest that a much more sensible order for it is by population, since ceteris paribus it’s far more likely a given visitor comes from China than Andorra.

  89. E.A. Blair says

    @Cara: You said, “…it’s most sensible, in those cases, to put those countries first, because of the ancient and hallowed design principle that the most common use cases should be easier to get to than the less common ones…”

    Well, how would you like to try using a dictionary or encyclopedia which arranged their words or entries by frequency of use? How about a telephone directory in which people were listed according to the number of calls they received? What about a library where books were shelved according to how often they were requested? Maybe putting the most frequently used items first works in your kitchen, bathroom or office, but that’s only feasible for idiosyncratic use. When you’re dealing with a large number of entries (as in a phone book) or a large number of users (a catalog) or both (a public library), sometimes you have to replace what might otherwise seem common sense with something that actually works.

  90. E.A. Blair says

    Yesterday, I ordered an automatic cat food dispenser online. The company I ordered from had, clearly listed at the top of the checkout page: “Note: We only ship to the United States and Canada”. Below that notice was the usual drop-down selection menu. It read:

    United States

    Western Sahara

    I know the reason they listed (presumably) all 205 recognized soverign countries in the world (I didn’t check to see if they included North Korea), but how much additional effort would it have taken to shorten the list to include only the countries to which they ship?

    For that matter, it would only cost about fifteen cents more in parts to make ATMs that let you insert your card in any orientation instead of spitting it out and making you turn it over or around and trying again.

  91. Paul says

    I makes me very happy to have USA not chosen by default unless the site has gone to the effort of detecting IP address block and guessing probable location from that.

  92. Vicki says

    That won’t even work if I’m traveling. I don’t mind being offered the choices “Canada (English)” and “Canada (Français)” by the airline website when I’m checking in online for a flight home, but I still need the option of telling some systems that I live in the United States even when I’m visiting my partner in Canada. (For example, I might want to buy something online while away from home.)

  93. Quinapalus says

    I callously persist in using the pronouns “he” and “she” despite the brutal oppression they perpetuate against the .00001% of people who don’t fit comfortably within the gender binary.

  94. Jen says

    I spent a portion of my youth homeless. While in a Virginia beach town, my friends and I were hanging around a pizza place with outdoor seating. After a woman and her two small sons finished eating, there was more than half a pizza left in the box untouched. The bigger boy came within 10 feet of our group as he headed to the trash to dispose of the leftovers. I will never forget the mother’s reaction. She grabbed her son and said, while looking right at us, “Don’t throw that away here. They’re just going to eat it. We’ll throw it away somewhere else.” I will never forget the hate in her voice.

  95. says

    Hah, I get annoyed whenever United States IS on the top of the list. I also get annoyed when people from the US put the code for their state as where they’re from under “location” on forums. I understand “TX” and “NY”, the rest is meaningless random letters.

  96. Azkyroth says

    I don’t know. I try to be aware of what privilege I have (in addition to the rather staggering effects of not having neurotypical privilege, which is a motherfucker, I have been recently told things that are very difficult to parse as anything other than an assertion that privilege doesn’t count unless you enjoy it, though I’ve also been told, without elaboration or support, that this plain English interpretation is TOTALLY WRONG – but I find the social structures and practices that constitute and surround white and, especially, male privilege grating and distasteful even just in terms of the effect on me), but I’m too accustomed to both “PRIVILEGE,” and anything I admit, being used like a club to be comfortable stating it publicly. I keep finding myself wanting to type “well, my effective IQ remains above room temperature in Celsius when I get behind the wheel of a car…” :/

  97. Azkyroth says

    Does having about 50% better correspondence between how one’s vocabulary is spelled, and how it’s pronounced, count as a privilege?

  98. Prof.Pedant says

    The point is that you were annoyed? It is fine to be annoyed at trivial things. There is only any privilege when you think that your preference should be followed because it is your preference. If you have a better design idea*, one that will alleviate your annoyance, there is a good chance that it is a better design idea and this sentence is wandering off into the wilderness so I’ll try to save it by pointing out again that it is perfectly fine to be annoyed with a trivial inconvenience, and being annoyed isn’t a sign of privilege – it is a sign of being a perfectly normal person. (I’ve found that it is best to have fun with the annoyance….) It only matters what you do with the annoyance and whether you seriously expect people to raise a finger to alleviate it because you are annoyed. And I’m getting repetitious again. Off to Slumberland!

    * Perhaps have the three or five most chosen options and the top and every country (including the most chosen ones) nicely alphabetized in a list below?

  99. says

    This is late, but I would argue that “First World Problems” is not the greatest of phrases to describe this phenomenon.

    There are plenty of very poor people in what is called “the First World,” and people who are not so poor in what is called “the Third World.” Also, when you’re poor, you deal not only with serious hindrances to a decent life but also with everyday petty annoyances, just as wealthier people do.

    The “First World/Third World” divide perpetuates a lot of stereotypes about abjectly poor, pitiful people in certain countries, and it also allows conservatives in the West to make claims such as that if you’re not living in a cardboard box, you can’t really be “poor.”

  100. Happiestsadist says

    Quinapalus: You brave shithead, you! Fuck those non-binaries’ feelings, you don’t wanna learn new words!

  101. sisu says

    I was driving last winter when I was stopped by a woman asking for bus fare to get to a shelter. I didn’t have any cash, and said so, but offered her a ride – it was well below zero and she didn’t have gloves or mittens. She protested that she didn’t know how to get there by car; I said I’d call 411 to get the number and get directions from them. We went back and forth until she saw another car at a stop sign, when she jumped out of my car and ran up to them to ask them for money.

  102. kaleberg says

    Jen, you’d appreciate this one. If you ever order something from an Australian outlet, they might ask you for your state. If you live in Washington State, you can just enter WA. It means Western Australia, but it gets you past the first level form filter. All the stuff I’ve ordered has arrived just fine. The Australians seem to have a pretty good post office, though that comment will probably set off a flame war on some other blog.

  103. Peter Tibbles says

    Hey, come join us in Australia. It may not be at the top of the list, but it’s close.

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