1176: Those Not Present

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Those Not Present
'Yeah, that squid's a total asshole.' [scoot scoot]
Title text: 'Yeah, that squid's a total asshole.' [scoot scoot]


Cueball (likely representing Randall), has decided to leave conversations deemed toxic, by scooting a little bit away any time somebody badmouths someone not present. In each panel, he scoots progressively further away until he reaches an area with Megan, Hairy, and Beret Guy, discussing giant squids. He decides to join them, as this conversation is far more interesting to him than one criticizing people behind their backs.

The title text jokes that the second group, is, in fact, dissing the giant squid rather than discussing how cool it is. As the squid is not present,[citation needed] Cueball scoots either back to where he came from (as having now at least a lesser toxicity) or even further onwards (to seek out a new and more palatable conversation).


Every time someone says something negative about a person who's not in the room, I scoot my chair back a few inches.
[Cueball, Ponytail and two other people are sitting at a table drinking.]
Person: He's not so bad, but his friends...
[Cueball scoots away from table.]
Scoot scoot
Ponytail: His band is never gonna take off if...
[Cueball scoots further away.]
Scoot scoot
[Megan, Beret Guy, and Hairy come into view.]
Off-screen: Yeah, his sister is even weirder.
Off-screen: Did you see she had...
Scoot scoot
Beret Guy: ...and there's a video, but it's blurry...
[Cueball turns around and leans his arm on his chair.]
Cueball: What're you talking about?
Hairy: Giant squid!
Cueball: Mind if I join you?


  • In the first panel, the word "friends" was originally misspelled as "frends".

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Seems pretty straight forward. The more a group talks badly of a person who's not present, a bad habit, the less Munroe wants to be associated with it. Therefore, he slowly scoots away, until he eventually reaches an other group, who, hopefully, won't have said bad habit. 05:28, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

I don't think there's much more to say about this one. Alpha (talk) 06:39, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
There's much more to say about it, actually. The comic is pointing out that it is the nature of certain groups to talk about those not present. The scooting from one to another (which is doing the same thing, even when the subject is something like squid), shows that there's no escape from the continuous gossip. 15:56, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

One can make assuptions about the age of those in the first group because of the shape of the beverage vessels. A wine or champagne glass might be used for it's name sake. Suggesting that they are older than the legal drinking age. Though the conversation seems like one expected in high school or college. -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~) Is this actually this simple or are we missing something? 14:03, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

I was actually expecting it to proceed to some sort of equilibrium situation where the various groups slowly force him into some stationary position at a distance from each group relative to their various levels of behind the back talking.Schmammel (talk) 15:22, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
I was expecting the same thing--Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 16:08, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
I was expecting the first group will start talking about him, when he's away. 23:31, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
They will. But that doesn't affect him, because he doesn't want to be associated with them anyway. It might be the reason why he doesn't want to associate with them. As the conventional warning against indulging in gossip goes: "Be wary of people that say things about others behind their backs, because they might do the same about you." Of course, the real reason we ought not to engage in gossip is beyond niceties. Contrary to what most people believe, it isn't about with-holding all criticism. It's about fair representation, and accurate communication. However, given umwelt, it's not like everyone will have the same viewpoint anyway. Still, understanding that and being non-judgmental involves no slagging-people-behind-their-back, or consigning them to inferiority or incapability. Even if you do it to their faces 12:19, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Is that person actually called Harry? 16:23, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Nope, it was made up in 1028: Communication to describe generic male characters with hair. Alpha (talk) 20:51, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Technically, by scooting away, they are free to talk badly about him, as he is no longer present. 02:15, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

What can we learn from this?

I've learned that talk shows don't work, unless they allow the person they are talking about to represent their point of view. If you see someone doing this on purpose, switch the channel as you are not missing much. - e-inspired 19:11, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

A dissenting view

Evidently Randall is not familiar with the concept of "Minnesota Nice". Where people from Minnesota burst from repression if they don't criticize others when they're not present. Trash-talking people while safely outside their presence is for some reason a perfectly reasonable pressure-release valve for them; the only sin is indiscretion, which isn't really defined, but for them, the only crime is allowing the "victim" to learn that they were "attacked". 19:32, 30 October 2015 (UTC)