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Third World Success is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photograph of a dancing tribal child with captions about overcoming hardships that are associated with life in underdeveloped countries. The series can be seen as a derivative of Success Kid and the anti-thesis of First World Problems.
Prior to the photograph’s association with Third World Success, the image has been seen on Twitter as early as June 2011 and paired with the phrase “It’s Friday, Niggas” as early as October 14th, 2011. The First World Problems image macro series started with a Buzzfeed post in March 2011 that juxtaposed stories from the First World Problems subreddit with the items in question. Later that year, a Quickmeme page was created featuring a stock photo of a woman crying. As of March 2012, the page has over 91,000 instances.
The Third World is a term coined in 1952 by French anthropologist Alfred Sauvy to define countries that did not take part in either capitalism (the First World) or communism (the Second World). Over the years, it gradually gained a negative connotation, being associated with poverty and a country being underdeveloped. In contrast, the phrase First World is associated with already developed countries. First World Problems are meant to criticize the fact that people who live in countries considered the First World will probably not have to encounter problems their Third World counterparts will: not owning a computer, starvation, and combat.
On November 11th, 2011, Slacktory published a compilation of photos entitled “Third World Perks: A Photo Meme” as a alternative to First World Problems. The images consisted of people living in impoverished conditions accompanied by optimistic captions.
Approximately two and a half weeks later on November 27th, the first Third World Success image macro was created on Quickmeme, featuring a photo of a group of dancing children with the caption “Found water / wasn’t contaminated.” It was subsequently posted to Reddit by user somename2222 and accumulated over 12,000 up votes within 4 days.
On November 28th, the viral content site BuzzFeed posted a round-up of instances titled “The Third World Success Kid Meme.” Within 24 hours, there were 230 Reddit threads related to the meme and 972 Quickmeme submissions. On November 29th, the culture blog Molempire published another compilation of derivatives. The meme has since spread to Tumblr, the Body Building forums and Meme Generator. As of March 2012, there are over 8000 instances on Quickmeme and over 630 on Reddit.
Second World Success Kid
On November 30th, 2011, a spin-off image macro series known as Second World Success emerged on Reddit, which featured a picture of a smiling child waving a Chinese flag and various captions criticizing the developing nation’s controversial issues of child labor laws and censorship of free speech. Collections of notable Instances were subsequently posted on Memebase, FunnyJunk, and #1 Meme Universal Trend.
Skeptical Third World Success Kid
On June 22nd, 2012, Redditor anute3392 submitted a photograph of an Ugandan child titled “Skeptical 3rd World Child” to the /r/pics subreddit. Apparently taken by Redditor Nepalm during her trip to Uganda as a voluntary member of the Student Global Health Alliance, the photograph became an instant favorite and reached the frontpage of Reddit within hours of upload. The thread went onto receive more than 17,000 upvotes and 725 comments in the first 24 hours, as well as spawning a series of image macros with captions alluding to the Third World Success Kid and the Skeptical Baby, an advice animal character based on a photo of an eyebrow-raising infant that emerged months earlier in January 2012.
The majority of notable examples poked fun at the drastically different standards of living in the First World countries or the White Man’s Guilt mentality, some Redditors quickly rebutted with a number of instances criticizing the community’s inclination towards slacktivism and trivializing the grave issue of famine in Africa.