Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Sticks and Stones (nursery rhyme)
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Sticks and stones may/will break my bones
But words/names will never harm/hurt me.
is a nursery rhyme said, often by parents, to persuade an individual, usually a child, to ignore any name calling or mean taunts that were said by others in an attempt to hurt the individual's feelings.
This comic plays on this rhyme by having the child come in and say that although words can't harm you physically, they can change how you feel and make you feel happy or sad and the child suggests that how you are feeling is all that matters in the world.
When Cueball suggests that the world isn't that bad the child reminds him of the "sticks and stones" part of the rhyme meaning that, even when emotions aren't an issue, the world can be quite harsh because there are things like sticks and stones that break your bones and presumably people who use them as weapons to do so. This is enough to change Cueball's mind so that he thinks the world is actually horrific.
The title text is rather dark, because it doesn't compare, and thus separate the breaking of bones from words that hurt, but instead shows how together they can hurt you from the inside out.
The rhyme is actually partially incorrect, as recent studies (for example: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/15/6270.full?sid=758b38cc-b399-4d22-9c37-3c074cf321b) have shown that the brain's reactions to physical pain and emotional rejection are somewhat similar and even feed into each other, though there are ways to distinguish them based on brain patterns.
- Child: Did you hear what he said about me!?
- Cueball: Well, remember: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words —
- Child: — can make someone else feel happy or sad, which is literally the only thing that matters in this stupid world?
- [Brief pause.]
add a comment!
- Child: Right?
- Cueball: The world isn't that bad.
- Child: Explain the line about sticks and stones?
- Cueball: ...OK, maybe it's kind of horrific.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will hurt forever. --Buggz (talk) 06:04, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Noone can appreciate the difference between broken bones and someone namecalling him without experience with the first. The things childs do to each other is basically the worst they ever experienced - because if those wouldn't, they would do worse. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:31, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Is it really a rhyme if it doesn't rhyme? --Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 15:02, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
- The rhyming of "stones" and "bones" probably counts as the big feature, and then the 'uhr' sound of "words" and "hurt" echo this resonance, and I've never heard the "harm" version that wouldn't have this. Although it's certainly a non-standard rhyming scheme (if it's AABC) and scan (7+7 syllables, or (3+4)+(2+5) or however you want to split it). It's pithy, which probably trumps strict adherence to anything like iambic pentameter. Maybe there's an argument that it's more musical, with a rythm of 4 groups of 4 beats ("sticks" and "words" extending over two of them, each, the way I'd say it). But musical lyrics and spoken verse are easily interchangable, and as long as it isn't totally 'blank' verse I'd accept it as a rhyme. (Not an authority, though ->) 22.214.171.124 19:56, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Citation: http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/27/in-the-brain-broken-hearts-hurt-like-broken-bones/ and http://www.pnas.org/content/108/15/6270.full?sid=758b38cc-b399-4d22-9c37-3c074cf321be Woliveirajr (talk) 16:58, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
My dear departed mother-in-law put it much more memorably - Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart. 126.96.36.199 17:46, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I can easily disregard words. It's not as easy to disregard a broken bone. After my fourth day at my new job, my knees are killing me, and that's not even close. 188.8.131.52 01:16, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
So was this comic copied from here? http://thegentlemansarmchair.com/post/50907218931/sticks-and-stones-http-i-imgur-com-sowwlir-jpg
Bryced (talk) 07:43, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
- Nice find, looks similar but the child doesn't talk. That's the point here. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:18, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I think the last panel isn't so much implying that Cueball thinks THE WORLD is horrific, but that the RHYME (and the fact that it's something regularly promoted to children) is horrific.--184.108.40.206
07:13, 10 August 2013 (UTC)