Do you suffer from condition called FWP?

Published 8:58 am Friday, November 30, 2012

Column: By Jeremy Corey-Gruenes, Paths to Peace

Holidays — as great as they are — run the risk of growing too routine, which is true of any longstanding tradition, I suppose. At this year’s Corey family Thanksgiving dinner, one of my sisters decided to shake things up before we filled out plates, asking everyone to share what we were thankful for. Many other families do this, but it was new to us.

After everyone had spoken, I was a bit overwhelmed by how fortunate we all really are. Most of us mentioned “family” in our short lists. Other common items included our jobs, freedom and health. Afterward I thought about how I take so many things for granted, and I was reminded of a short video I recently watched with my students at school.

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We started a tradition in my classes two years ago of beginning every Friday with “Five Minutes of Friday Fun,” or because I’m fond of catchy acronyms, “FMFF.” (That’s pronounced “foomf,” if you weren’t sure.)

Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

This usually entails watching one or two short, school-appropriate YouTube videos. Sometimes I find them, but more often students suggest them. Our FMFF videos range from the hilarious to the inspirational, from ridiculous clips of the show “Impractical Jokers,” to incredible footage of Bobby McFerrin leading an audience through a beautiful and spontaneous a cappella performance of “Ave Maria.”

Recently a student suggested a video drawing attention to a condition millions of Americans suffer from called FWP. The video opens with the faces of several FWP victims and their pleas for help:

“I’m so cold,” says one; “I’m starving,” says another; “Nobody cares about me,” laments yet another. We find out later that the young woman is “so cold” because someone set the thermostat at 72 degrees, when she prefers it at 73. The “starving” young man sits on the floor distraught because all he has to eat are “leftovers,” and the man nobody cares about is depressed because no one “liked” or commented on his latest Facebook status update.

Those stricken with FWP have real problems — First World problems — and the video is as insightful as it is funny.

My latest FWP episode resolved itself recenty when after weeks of torture I finally made a decision regarding a new computer system I wanted to buy. I had struggled and suffered because today’s innumerable purchasing options are simply staggering, especially for someone as prone to indecision as I am.

But with the support of friends — including an incredibly patient and well-spoken customer service agent in India — I finally did it. I made the purchase and put this particular FWP to rest hopefully for at least the next six years.

I’m OK now, but think about all the shoppers left unsatisfied by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and whatever day today is.

Lately I’ve noticed a new FWP making some noise online. Thousands of people from all 50 states are finding life so unbearable after the re-election of President Barack Obama that they’ve signed petitions of secession on the White House’s “We the People” website, which claims the administration will review any petition with 25,000 or more signatures. Earlier this week, petitions from 11 states had reached the 25,000 mark.

Secession is serious business, right? So why classify these petitions in the same ridiculous category as other ridiculous FWPs, such as living with a lost remote control or not being able to Skype on the patio because your Wi-Fi signal isn’t strong enough?

Because these petitions are equally ridiculous.

From a practical perspective, the secession petition campaign is ridiculous because it’s not going anywhere. No governor or state legislature has endorsed these petitions, and constitutional scholars agree that the odds of a state actually seceding range from astoundingly unlikely to virtually impossible.

Moreover, a number of states with the most signatures on their petitions would be financially ruined if they were to succeed. The Tax Foundation and reported that in 2005 Mississippi took $2.02 in federal funding for every $1 it sent to Washington in federal taxes. Other sources report that figure had increased to $2.83 in 2011.

What do you suppose an Independent Republic of Mississippi’s schools, roads and disaster relief would look like?

From a symbolic perspective, these petitions are even less honorable than the “I’ll move to Canada rather than endure another four years of so and so” threats after disappointing elections.

Treasonous rather than patriotic, secessionist aspirations are the idle threats of people who would rather whine than work to make their country a better place.

I wish I could afford to send each signatory on these petitions the FWP helping kit shared in the YouTube video I mentioned earlier. Each kit includes a bridge — or, rather, a picture of a bridge — to help FWP sufferers “get over it,” and a straw that encourages sufferers to simply “suck it up” and move on with their lives.

Dear secessionists, we have a democratically elected president whom you do not like. That’s OK. Be thankful you live in a country that allows its citizens to freely elect him or any other candidate. Be thankful, too, for your ability to create petitions with your freedom of speech, but please consider better uses for it. Despite how fortunate many of us are, we all have bigger problems to focus on.


Jeremy Corey-Gruenes is a high school teacher in Albert Lea where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jemcorey.