Stop Using ‘Third World’ As An Insult

I live in the ‘Third World’. You’re not better than us
5 min readNov 29, 2020


A map of the ‘three worlds’ of the Cold War. Also a map of your ignorance

People use ‘third world’ as a slur. ‘Oh we’re like a third world country now,’ obviously talking about something bad. But, uh, I live in a third world country. You guys are being dicks. Words are used to assert power and this hurts us more than feelings.

Billions of people live in what you call the third world and we’re not some uniform hellscape. You’re insulting us and you’re plain wrong. This hurts us cause we get stomped on, but it hurts you because you remain ignorant. Worst of all, the slur comes from people I otherwise respect.

I like umair haque, but it’s just awful when he says “the average American began to live a life more suited to a third world country.” Like we’re uniquely suited to shit. April D. Ryan seems cool but not when she says “what makes us different from a third world country & dictatorships?” Like we’re all despotic hellscapes. These are people I like, and even they insult me. You can imagine how the racists are.

Umair seems aware, but read the following quote. It’s just a litany of insults towards billions of people, like we’re the fountain of bad. And it’s not even true. We are hugely diverse and almost none of us live like this.

C’mon Umair, this is just racist. Do better

I say this to the people I cited out of respect and a middle finger to the racists. The third world is Earth and all of us deserve respect.

Third World ≠ Bad

Trump calls us shitholes, but at least he’s direct. The casual bigotry is everywhere. For anything bad, people say ‘it’s like a third world country.’ Like you can group all the colored, colonized places you don’t know together and use them as a synonym for bad.

I live in a third world country called Sri Lanka and it’s not a shithole. It’s not everything bad in your society. It’s a place. We have families, we have companies, we make music, we do science. We have good and bad and you could learn something from us if you just learned respect.



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at