#2. "You Have to Love Them!"
Why We Say It:
This one seems logical, doesn't it? We have a physical, mental and bloodline connection with our relatives. As a sheer biological act of reproduction, we are a real-world branch of their genetic material, split off to form another version of themselves. We are literally a part of them ... a continuation of the living meat that formed those before us. You have to love them because in many ways, you are them.
On an emotional scale, you've spent your entire life depending on them for survival. Not just mom and dad supplying the protection and sustenance, but brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles helping out with the emotional stability and companionship. How many people who have them are more open with their siblings than their parents? I'd say most. It's much easier to ask your brother how he deals with getting a boner in class than to run that by your mom.
"Well hey there, Greg. Looks like you have yourself a big ol' boner there."
You have to love them because, aside from your own children, they are the closest emotional and physical connections you're ever likely to have. You're bound to your friends and spouse by choice. You're bound to your relatives by life.
And if you feel nothing for them? If you don't like talking to them or spending time with them? Well, that means you're a selfish, feral dog-person. You're the guy in the '80s movie who's destined for a midlife crisis and who'll eventually find out that he's wasted his life by neglecting his family.
When It's Bullshit:
Part of the problem is that people don't really know how to define "love" when it comes to family. They still think it's about liking something a lot, and when they find they don't like their family, they think they've failed somehow. But it is entirely possible to love someone without liking them. You can be there for your brother or uncle or whatever when they need you, even if you don't enjoy their company at all. There's no conflict there. You can fulfill your requirement to love your family without ever enjoying a single conversation you've had with them.
That's because love isn't just a feeling you get in your chest. It's what you do that defines your love of another person. Calling your grandmother for no other reason than to find out how she's doing. Putting your day on hold to fix a friend's computer. Going on a double date with the ugly tag-along so your friend can get the hot one.
"So ... we gonna fuck or what?"
I have an entire group of uncles and cousins who annoy me to no end. I would rather punch myself in the face than do any of the things they enjoy, and they feel the same way about me. When a family reunion or a funeral rolls around, we still speak to each other. We're not assholes, and we don't hate each other. We just happen to not share a mutual love, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So many people feel guilty when they don't connect with certain family members. They don't enjoy doing the same things, or share political beliefs, or practice the same religion. It's easy to feel like something has gone wrong, like they're "the black sheep," failing at the one human relationship that society says is the most important. All because they think society's "You must love your family no matter what" somehow means they are required to look forward to their long discussions about NASCAR. I think it's a fucking tragedy that people are made to feel bad because of that.
Hey, if "black sheep" means you're the only non-douche of the family, take that with some pride.
#1. "Respect Your Elders!"
Why We Say It:
Older people have more experience in virtually every facet of life. We're constantly evolving as a society, and it's the older people who helped place the top step that you'll be standing on when you build the next one for your own children. Yes, some of you younger readers will complain that it's the older generation that created X that led to Y. Those are the things your generation will be fixing to make the world grow even more, just as we did with our own parents. That's the point.
We see our elderly as having wisdom. They worked their asses off to provide for us, and now they're getting to the age where they can't physically do it anymore. All the things we look forward to doing, they've already mastered and filed away. It's hard to imagine your grandmother mastering things like blowjobs, but make no mistake, she did. And you have to respect her for that.
Wait, what did you think I meant? Seriously, though, when those things pop, that whole area is going to smell like dick.
When It's Bullshit:
Because the ones saying it are the elders. Not many people have heard a 14-year-old say "You know, we should all really respect our elders. I think I'm going to go home right now and do some respecting." No, this is a phrase that older people say when they want younger people to shut their stupid face holes. Whether there's truth to the phrase or not, when an older person says it, they really mean "Don't you talk to me like that, you arrogant little prick. You don't know jack shit."
And just like with any blanket statement, it's simply not true to say that all elderly are wise. There are far more dumbasses than geniuses in the world, and the odds are that your drunken grandfather isn't one of the elite few. Unfortunately, "experience" does not always translate to "wisdom." You have to remember that in many cases, older people (me included) will say things to overcompensate for our own mistakes, and when someone younger calls us on it, it's incredibly hard for us to admit that fault and move on. Instead, we resort to "Respect your elders!"
"You get to respectin' or I swear to all that is holy that I will shoot your underage dick CLEAN OFF!"
Yes, it's true that most older people will be able to give you advice on the basics of life: "Don't put your dick in that acid. It'll acid your dick off." But no, not all of them can give useful advice on complex, delicate issues: "Just follow your heart. Life's too short!" Yeah, thanks -- that's great advice. Eat shit, Grandma.
Now, am I telling you to disrespect your elders? No, that's silly. Stop being silly, you fruity silly-ass. What I'm saying is that the social rule demanding that you automatically give respect based simply on a person's age is outdated and ironically unwise. It was the generations above me that taught "Respect is earned; not given." I agree. We have to follow that rule -- and so should they.
And if they don't like that, they can go fuck themselves.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Bits of Advice That Don't Make Sense Until It's Too Late and 5 Questions You Need to Ask (To Avoid Ruining Your Life).