A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with a friend. After we finished, he ordered a latte. When it arrived, he examined it and pronounced it too foamy. He was going to call the waiter over to have it replaced, but changed his mind. “If a foamy latte is my most serious problem,” he said, “then things must be all right.”
“Foamy latte problem” has since become my shorthand for “the trivial problems which Westerners find absorbing in their own lives” or “banal issues we obsess over because our lives are, from a global and historical perspective, astonishingly easy and luxurious”.
We encounter these all the time (and I’m as guilty as the next latte buyer): Should I get cruise control on my new car? Should take yoga or Pilates? Or, the most recent example I found, how should I tell my vegan friend that I’ve started eating fish?
So, an idea for a website: FoamyLatteProblems.com. It just features inane problems like this, maybe in juxtaposition with actual problems like 400 people killed by an earthquake or the extinction of a species of dolphin.
I suppose it’s rather mean-spirited, but it’d be designed to remind Westerns (again, including myself) that if they’re healthy, have a job and somewhere to live, they’re better off than 99% of all humans who have ever lived. What do you think?