6 Urban Legends We Need To Teach Kids (For Their Own Good)
I'm worried about the future. Not because of global warming or wars or Zayn Malik leaving One Direction, but because of the world's kids. They're kinda shitty, guys. I mean, I didn't want to say it, but somebody had to say it, so I'll say it. Kids these days are kinda shitty. Back in my day, we respected our elders, probably because we didn't have cell phones, our video games didn't involve so much murder, and so on.
If I'm coming across as a grumpy old man, then good, because that's what I was going for. Grumpy old men kinda have a point, so I'm happy to be compared to them (notice how I respect my elders, you fucking twits). But unlike grumpy old men, who are content to wave their canes from their front lawns and smoke pipes, I actually have a solution for all the problems ruining modern-day kids. We need to scare the everloving bejesus out of them. How? Well, kids are stupid. So all we have to do is teach them about ...
The "Shares Articles On Social Media Without Fact-Checking" Gremlin
I don't know if you've heard, but there's something of an epidemic of false information on the Internet. People seem very comfortable telling stories and acting like they're true, without bothering to check whether they in fact ever happened. I don't have any hard data on this issue, but just speaking anecdotally, I would guess that on any given day, roughly every fucking thing you read is total hogwash. Hogwash, I say!
All because we can't control ourselves. We can't resist the urge to throw interesting things on our Facebook, because doing so allows us to take a little bit of credit for them. "See? Obama is building an army of robots out of all the trans fat he won't let you eat, and I discovered it (by reading an article about another person pretending to discover it)!" It makes us feel powerful, and that little bit of pseudo-credit makes us not even care that we're ruining the concept of truth and the integrity of the Internet, all for the satisfaction of our raging, incompetent ids. It is vitally important that we solve this issue, which is why I propose ...
What I Propose
The "Shares Articles On Social Media Without Fact-Checking" Gremlin, or the "Clickbait Gremlin" for short. Tell a kid that that if they share a news story on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media they're using these days (Something called a "Tumbler?"), then they'll be stalked by the Clickbait Gremlin, for he is the vessel through which the cruel vengeance of truth shall be delivered.
The Clickbait Gremlin works quickly, and mostly at night. He adjusts clocks so they're just a few minutes slow -- and then, a week later, a few minutes fast, making them embarrassingly late to everything for a few days, and then frustratingly early for a few days after that. He'll change the expiration dates on all their cheese and eggs, but not their milk, because he doesn't work with milk. He'll hack into their cell phones and swap the contact information of their ex, their parents, and their favorite pizza place. He will slowly teach them that nothing in their life can be trusted ever again.
Only then, when they're forced to wander a life wrought with fear and doubt, will the children of the future finally realize the evil of what they've done and stop sharing articles by goddamn Gawker without fact-checking, seriously.
The "Reckless Resource Use" Gnome
"Oh god, he's going to proselytize about the environment," one of you screams, furiously masturbating in erotic anger with one hand while you stroke your limited edition Legend Of Zelda action figures with the other (it's fine, I'm not judging you). No. That's not what I'm going to do. I don't care about global warming or running out of oil to power our cars or children's screams to power our doomsday machines. I'm just irritated with my neighbors. Let me tell you what living in Los Angeles is like.
Right now, we're in a drought. A nasty one. We seriously might all die, except not, but bear with me: Right now we're buying water from farmers in Northern California just so we can avoid eating our ramen cold and dry like Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher. But that's just a Band-Aid; with our failing water infrastructure, a day of reckoning casts a terrifying shadow over us all. And every morning on my way to work, you know what I see?
A fountain of arrogance.
That water could be keeping us alive, or at least fill up my toilet bowl so I can poop in it. How do we stop this reckless disregard for our most precious natural resource? This is how.
This Is How
The Reckless Resource Use Gnome is sneaky, and he's always watching -- but he waits to strike until he knows you're most vulnerable: the moment you only have one left. "One" what? One anything.
The gnome will take your last roll of toilet paper, right after you check your stock and decide you don't need more. He'll sneak into your sock drawer, steal your last condom, and use it to parachute to safety. He'll shotgun your last Dr. Pepper right after you order pizza. He'll sneak your last, ever-so-satisfying sip of scotch while you're briefly distracted by a spitball launched from his own mouth. Just when you thought you had one more, you'll have nothing.
And the gnome will look on, knowing that justice was done.
The "Is Mean to Animals" Kaiju
Let me tell you a hypothetical story. Let's say you get a cat from a shelter, and she lives with you for years. She travels with you around the country, from state to state, because your feet get itchy if they stay off the clutch for too long. She's got a soft coat and a mean hiss and she can hold her own in a fight with a dog twice her size, and she looks like this.
When she's trying to sleep and you're taking a picture of her.
But she never walks right, because her leg was broken a long time ago and didn't heal properly. And she's always skittish around new people -- more so than a normal cat -- because a long time ago one of your roommates slammed her in a door. That roommate is cat food now (I know a guy) but I'd prefer it had never happened in the first place, to this is how you prevent your kids from ever being that roommate.
Prevent Your Kid From Ever Being That Roommate
Tell them that if they're mean to animals, the "Mean to Animals" Kaiju will find their house and sit on it until they're dead. Tell them that the giant robots we built to fight those kaiju will just be all, "yeah, okay. Fine. Sit on that guy's house first, because no one will care once he's dead and our floundering construction industry could use the stimulation." Then we can turn them into cat food too. The really cheap kind. As a side note, this is the only monster on this list so far that I genuinely wish really existed.
The "Leaves Angry Comments" Sledgehammer Goblin
I'm not here to ask you to stop leaving angry comments on my articles for my sake. Honestly, I feed off your anger. It gives me the strength I need to keep control of my powers and hopefully avoid any more incidents. But I am going to ask you to stop leaving angry comments -- not for me, but for you. See, leaving angry comments actually makes the people who read your comments dumber. Whenever someone reads your angry comment, they become even more polarized in their opinion, no matter what it is. They're less likely to accept new information, less likely to grow as people, and more likely to leave angry comments themselves, thus perpetuating the cycle of awful.
As illustrated here.
Even worse is the fact that your angry comments are hurting you, too. People who accuse their friends of being Nazis online are more likely to lose their shit in real life. It's hard to say which one of these things causes the other, but the point is that leaving angry comments is bad. So bad. And by the way, the writer you're mad at is never, ever going to read them. So this is what we have to do.
What We Have To Do
Tell the kids about the Sledgehammer Goblin. Unlike the other beasts on this list, the Sledgehammer Goblin doesn't wait for you to fuck up. He's always there, always watching from the shadows. His eyes are deep pools of matte black. His hair is dark and wiry, stretched thin across a glistening scalp. His flesh is the mottled green of week-old chocolate pudding. And he has a sledgehammer.
The "Never On Time" Satyr
We all know what Satyrs are, right? Just look 'em up. I'm kinda running out of mythological creatures here.
Look, timeliness may not seem like it's a major problem, like environmentalism or figuring out what Harry, Liam, Louis, and Niall are going to do without Zayn, but it's still a big deal, because it pisses me off. The movie starts in five minutes, Larry, where the fuck are you? Well, it turns out Larry might suffer from a lack of perceived self-worth. Larry doesn't think I really care about him, so he has to be late and make me adjust my plans accordingly to remind himself how much he matters to me as a friend. He's struggling to control the situation by refusing to arrive when he's supposed to, and he might actually have a legitimately different understanding of how time works. Like a lot of annoying personality flaws, chronic lateness is actually sad when you really look into it. I feel only pity for Larry now.
Which is why I wish I could travel back in time, meet baby Larry, and scare the shit out of him with stories about horse demons.
Scare The Shit Out Of Him With Stories About Horse Demons
The Chronic Lateness Satyr, like the Clickbait Gremlin, will fuck with your possessions so that they lie to you. If you're installing a new piece of software on your computer, the Satyr will reroute the encryption matrix so that the "Time Left" indicator counts up. In your car, he'll set the fuel light to go on after you run out of gas. He will immediately sabotage any pregnancy test or birth control you buy, making it laughably, woefully unreliable.
Wow. Wow. That last one seems really mean. Satyrs are dicks.
The "Tries To Make A Big Deal Out Of Nothing" Ghost
Hey, did you know that Trevor Noah, the new Daily Show host, made some offensive and bad jokes four years ago? And that the guy who landed that spaceship on a comet wore a sexist shirt to work? And that gamers' personal rights are being infringed upon by the gaming media, somehow? And that men don't even have human rights anymore? And that no one knows what's next for Zayn Malik? Sure seems like there's a lot to be angry about. How does anyone have time to research this shit?
"Hey!" some of you are saying, "That's not fair -- some of those things are real things to get angry about, and others are just silly issues that some people got mad about for no reason!" Really? Which ones? And how could you tell? This is kind of a problem, because from the outside -- as someone who isn't personally offended by any of those things -- I have no fucking idea how to tell which ones are real and which ones are just people looking for attention. And I don't have enough time to research each one. I do a lot of stuff, ya know? I'm a busy guy.
Which is why I'm forced to take frequent naps and binge-meditate.
Decades ago, I'd have argued that the most important person in the country was the protester -- the person willing to stand up for what they believed in, even if it meant mockery or a destroyed livelihood and reputation. These days, I feel like outrage and protest is what we do on our phones while we're sitting on the toilet. Getting pissed off at something isn't how you change the world; it's how you get Twitter followers. And that fucking blows. So you know what we should do? We should sic a ghost on them.
We Should Sic A Ghost On Them
The "Make A Big Deal Out Of Nothing" Ghost is really insidious, even by the frankly absurd standards for insidiousness I've previously set: He sneaks into your cell phone and your laptop and turns on notifications ... for everything. New tweet in your Twitter feed? "Hooked On A Feeling" will start playing, and you won't be able to turn it off. New email? "Blinded By The Light." The whole song, start to finish. And every time you get a text or phone call ... well, I'm sorry to say this, but it's "Don't Stop Believing." Nothing in your life will ever be proportionate ever again. God help you.
JF Sargent is an editor and columnist for Cracked with a new article every Tuesday. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook if you're into that kind of thing.
For more from Sarge, check out 7 Famous Movies That Got Tiny Details Absolutely Perfect and 4 Movie Heroes Everyone Pretends Aren't Psychopaths .
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