Cliches are pretty handy ways to describe a complicated thing in a simple manner. For example, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is used to remind people that if your life isn’t perfect, maybe you shouldn’t point out the flaws of others. The problem lies when basically every cliche is logically flawed either at its core or in its more common uses. Cliches are cute, but they cannot replace understanding.
Someone tells you “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and you think, “that’s cool.” I get that something you have is worth more than the things you don’t have, so you should cherish that which you have. If I didn’t have context and significant understanding of the principles this cliche is based on, I wouldn’t understand why someone just said that to me. Furthermore, isn’t it simpler to explain that although it is nice to admire that which others have, by cherishing your own belongings, situation and self worth, you will be happier.
At the root of the matter, it is the fact that because they’re cliches and they’re clever, we’re to believe them. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” would be a terrible thing to say in nearly every situation. If we wanted everyone to do exactly as those around them do, we’d have a boring, unimaginative, world. When in Rome, if it is burning to the ground, maybe don’t continue the actions that caused Rome to fall? Perhaps, it would be better to do better than the Romans did? “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” Maybe. Are we bungee jumping? Is there something worse on top of the bridge? How tall is this bridge?
Let’s explain, rather than provide quips and expect people to follow.