4 Wise Proverbs That Need to Be Revised for the Modern World

#2. You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover

suchoa lertadipat/photos.com

There was an age when reading a book was much more visceral. It required cracking a spine, coating the corners of each page with spit and occasionally some blood from paper cuts. The books were also hardbound and expensive, so it was only natural for people to want to know what they were investing themselves in early. Jumping into a book was almost like jumping into a relationship, which is why the saying "You can't judge a book by its cover" is a mantra people frequently turn to on dates with midgets or psoriasis sufferers.

Scott Griessel/photos.com
"It's weird, you didn't constantly pretend to gag yourself in any of your profile pictures."

But the era of books was more than three years ago, Grandpa -- we've moved on to Kindles and Nooks now. We don't have to judge books by their covers anymore because most of them don't have covers. Also, we have the luxury of hundreds of reviews available at our spitless fingertips before we ever even buy the thing that makes the saying completely obsolete. So in order to impart the same sentiment today, you have to present it in terms the hip young kids will understand. That's why I'd like to upgrade the adage to:

Video Thumbnails of Vaginas Are Almost Never Vaginas

Time is a precious commodity, and there's a special type of rage reserved for the realization that you've been duped into watching a boring Internet video when you thought for sure there was going to be nudity. This is a frequent trick implemented on YouTube to accumulate views on otherwise boring videos; the still image from the video in the thumbnail will look vaguely like it might be someone trying to get naked or already a nudity success story. Even though the Internet is bursting at the seams with pornography, for some reason biological imperative steals our sense of free will and obliges everyone to click on these images.

Ruslan Olinchuk/photos.com
Yeeeeeah, wait. No, this is a video on armpit waxing.

As a result, a video about some teenagers jumping into water will have 49 million views exclusively because one of the girls looks like she might be taking her top off in the thumbnail. This maxim just reminds us that things are not always what they seem, plus it also has the added benefit of letting you say "vagina" twice, which is fun.

#1. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword


When this adage was coined in the late 1830s, our ancestors couldn't have possibly anticipated that we'd live in a future where pens are relegated exclusively to dream journals and restaurant receipts. Whatever power the pen once had has been neutered or stripped away to the point that a pen isn't mightier than most toothpicks anymore. Additionally, a sword isn't all that impressive either now that we have laser cannons that shoot from space and guns that can fire through walls, so really in every respect this idiom is dated. The only way it could conceivably still ring true is if we are talking about a James Bond type of pen that shoots poison darts or explodes.

Fortunately, words haven't lost any of their ferocity since the 19th century; they just changed mediums. That's why I'd like us all to try adopting a new axiom:

We're All Killers Behind Our Keyboards

Part of the reason words are so dangerous in the first place is because they make it tough to fight back. People can wield them from hundreds of miles away without much threat that the person on the receiving end will be able to track them down and push them into a ditch. Everyone on the Internet has sensed this tremendous power and, naturally, exploited it enthusiastically. The new modified version of "The Pen Is Mightier" birthed the Internet Tough Guy into the world, ready to do battle with entire armies, provided he doesn't have to put on pants first or leave the house.

Sorry, I didn't mean to be sexist. I'm sure there are plenty of terrible Internet Tough Girls, too.

But keyboards don't just produce hollow threats. Some people have the capacity to do far more damage than a sword ever could, hacking into government files, taking control of operating systems, and ruining lives. It's all still language, but it's used with a devastating efficiency. But because everyone maintains a cushion of anonymity, it's not always easy to tell the difference between someone who is genuinely dangerous and someone who's just pretending at danger, so we have to treat everyone with the same caution. Everyone's a potential killer when they're on the computer, even the woman from the Midwest who blogs fan fiction about her ferrets. Even that impossibly symmetrical columnist you love to read on Tuesdays.

Soren is a senior writer at Cracked. You can follow him on Twitter or Tumblr.

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