Title text: It's like the squirt bottle we use with the cat.
In all of philosophy, perhaps the most important questions consider the meaning of life and can be expressed as "Why are we here?" or "What does it all mean?" Many philosophers and theologians have attempted to answer the question over the course of human history, and every religion claims to have some sort of answer.
Megan has been considering that the question is essentially meaningless. However, if that is true, she can't understand why it continues to be in her thoughts. This might feel frustrating for Megan. Two of her friends (both Cueball-like) notice that she is seemingly stuck in this existential question and have a short-term solution for her. One friend reaches for a Super Soaker 50, a powerful toy squirt gun, to shoot at Megan while she is having an existential crisis. (Megan uses this soaker later against Cueball in 517: Marshmallow Gun and 2334: Slide Trombone, and in comic 625: Collections, she has another one of her crises.)
The title text refers to the operant conditioning technique (a form of behavioral modification) commonly used with house cats. If they start scratching the furniture, many people spray them with a squirt bottle (since they hate water) to discourage that behavior (though it seldom works). It may also allude to the idea of hitting a break key where a program is stuck in a logical loop.
Megan has since this comic had existential crises both in 1111: Premiere and in 1822: Existential Bug Reports.
- [Megan sits on a chair for two panels without moving.]
- [In the third panel, Megan has still not moved but makes the following comment to no one in particular.]
- Megan: If the question of what it all means doesn't mean anything, why do I keep coming back to it?
- [Two Cueball-like friends of Megan are talking to each other. One of them is standing behind the office chair in which the other friend is sitting, behind a desk with a computer. The standing friend starts to walk toward Megan. The sitting friend pulls a large yellow and green super soaker from a drawer.]
- Standing friend: She's getting existential again.
- Sitting friend: It's okay, I have a super soaker.
- Randall himself uploaded the strip's fourth panel to Wikimedia Commons (here) for use on xkcd's Wikipedia article. xkcd is licenced under this Creative Commons license, which is incompatible with this CC license that Wikipedia uses, because the latter allows commercial use. Randall says here that he is willing to unlock more strips to Commons for similar purposes.
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I've learned that if you are coming back to the same question over and over again, perhaps there is a lesson to learn there that you've missed. And when I ask myself "What it all means?", I realize that the lessons I've learned in life have shown me that I simply need to be the best human being I can and enjoy my personal adventure through this thing we call life. -- E-inspired (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
That Megan's friends intend to shoot Megan with the soaker is obvious. The explanation is not incomplete because we don't spell that out. Please do not add the incomplete-template without a better reason. –St.nerol (talk) 13:48, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
- This is only obvious after reading the title text and the main joke here. Why this should be banned from the explain? And it was even not obvious to you, your statement a few hours ago did mention that Megan would use the super soaker...--Dgbrt (talk) 16:45, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
- Ah, so maybe you meant that the title text is the key to the last panel (and not the other way around)? I think it's very obvious that they are shooting Megan, and yes, I thought that from the start. You stated in the edit summary "Megan doesn't plan to use that super soaker against cats.", and I meant to ask: Why would anyone think that in the first place? –St.nerol (talk) 18:37, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. In this case there is no reason to call one Cueball and the other friend. It could easily be the other way. So I have changed to remove Cueball.--Kynde (talk) 12:43, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Just realized this
It's titled "Philosophy," and Megan apparently keeps coming back to it. This could be a reference to Wikipedia (also referenced frequently), as if you keep clicking on the first link in a Wikipedia article in the main body text not in parentheses or italics (referenced in the title text of 903), you get back to the article on Philosophy. 184.108.40.206 16:58, 28 May 2020 (UTC)