642: Creepy

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And I even got out my adorable new netbook!
Title text: And I even got out my adorable new netbook!


This comic displays Cueball's fears that his attempts to strike up a conversation with Megan will only result in her rejecting him and even humiliating him in front of others for attempting to get to know her - he might even risk getting his picture on Facebook with a warning that he is a creep to be avoided. This is because he worries that others might interpret his behavior as sexual harassment, the exaggerated flip-side of his attempted courtship. It turns out in the fifth and last panel that the first four panels was just one large thought bubble on how Cueball worried an attempt to contact Megan would turn out.

Ironically, however, Megan is actually attracted to Cueball and is dismayed that he has not spoken to her. Therefore, Cueball's fears are unfounded and are even preventing the two from meeting and possibly forming a relationship. Megan could of course also have spoken to Cueball herself, but she expects him to make a move if he is interested. Thus she also prevents herself from making contact because of her own expectations and fears of rejection.

The title text is the continuation of Megan's apparent journal entry and further emphasizes the irony of the situation: in the attempt to be alluring to Cueball, Megan took out her "adorable new netbook," the very thing Cueball stopped himself from complimenting in the first place.

This comic comments on the unsettling effects of social change, particularly with respect to the advent of social media and to modern sensitivity toward a woman's (or any person's) right to be left alone in public. It points out that attempting to start a conversation with a stranger has become risky, and we have yet to evolve new customs and conventions to signal openness to such an approach. The risk is aggravated by social media, by which means an innocent misjudgment may subject one to public humiliation - or even worse someone might expect that you had intention of performing some sexual crime - if that type of info is published with a picture and/or your name on Facebook or Twitter etc. your life could be ruined without any reason. As a result, opportunities to meet other people are missed, loneliness and social isolation are increased, and one may even experience existential fears of being unattractive. Ironically, some people react to this problem by relying on the same social media to stay connected with others.

This comic also might imply that "love at first sight" isn't what it seems to be.


[Cueball and Megan are sitting on chairs, presumably on a train.]
Cueball: Hey, cute netbook.
Megan: What.
[Zoomed in on Cueball and Megan.]
Cueball: Your laptop. I just—
Megan: No, why are you talking to me.
[Zoomed in on Megan.]
Megan: Who do you think you are? If I were even slightly interested, I'd have shown it.
[Both Cueball and Megan, with Megan pointing at Cueball.]
Megan: Hey everyone, this dude's hitting on me.
Voice #1: Haha
Voice #2: Creepy
Voice #3: Let's get his picture for Facebook to warn others.
[The previous panel fades into a thought bubble of Cueball.]
[Cueball and Megan are sitting on chairs, on the train, and Megan is typing on her laptop.]
Dear blog,
Cute boy on train still ignoring me.

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Is the real-life example unwarranted? Greyson (talk) 15:26, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Admirably done. I like the link. In future, though, the wiki-engine doesn't know what single returns means, so if you want a paragraph break hit enter twice. lcarsos_a (talk) 16:07, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

A hint for girls, we all have the SAME fears, don't be afraid to find out who we are on the inside :) - E-inspired (talk) 04:46, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Uh...men typically don't have to worry about getting harassed, assaulted, or killed like women do. At least not to the same degree. Your nervousness about being turned down is not the same as the woman's fear of being attacked. 20:57, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for making this comment. It perfectly outlines the exact type of conceited, one sided views that are being used by tumblr feminists in their crusade for "safety" and "equality". The idea that men are all some sort of all powerful being, incapable of being abused or raped is not only factually wrong, but actually perpetuates the abuses against them as more and more men stop coming forward for fear of looking weak. You speak as if you have knowledge in this field, but that just can't be the case. If you did, you would be much better educated as to the real breakdowns of sexual violence per gender, and know just how ridiculous your claims are. 20:11, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
[citation needed] -- Comment police (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Men are more likely to be murdered than women. You are wrong on the internet. 18:48, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Why is this so hard for you people to understand. Men get murdered more than Women. Women get raped (forcibly penetrated) 22 times more than Men. For other kinds of sexual violence (forcibly penetrating someone else, coercion, stalking) the gender gap is smaller but still significant. Men represent 80% of murder victims. They are at higher risk for non-sexual violence. Source for rape stats [1] skip to page 11 for the executive summary. Source for men having higher non sexual crime victimization [[2]] 16:34, 18 May 2021 (UTC)
Quite frankly, the rates of violence against men are much lower, and almost all of it is committed by men (as you can tell by googling "literally anything about crime statistics"). Men are less harmed and less affected by these issues (see, eg, Moradi and Huang 2008); further, what you just posted is a strawman, because what was posted above does not claim that men cannot be harmed or raped, only that one fear is greater than the other.
Given that feminism is the entire reason the legal definition of rape in america includes men - see the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazines Rape Is Rape campaign, I think you maybe want to inform yourself more. 19:47, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
What girl wants to be with a guy who is so introspective and nervous that he can't talk to girls? A hint for guys, grow a pair. 02:29, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

It seems pretty obvious to me that the comic intends to point out the paralyzing paranoia men can have about interacting with women, and the description as it is seems to refuse to explain the comic out of sheer disagreement. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The comments here, with the call for men to "grow a pair" combined with the (false) claim that women are at greater danger of being attacked than men (seemingly offered as justification for unreasonable female caution or hostility toward men), are a perfect illustration of why this anomie exists. 03:05, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

I think that there are younger girls who don't get a lot of male attention and are too inexperienced to be familiar with the neckbeard/fedora types. They think a "nice guy" sitting by himself is like them and just needs someone to be with. They haven't learned that all the guys who complain about lack of girls despite being surrounded are just sex hounds who claim they want a relationship. 18:48, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
...What? The claim that women are in greater danger of being attacked than men is NOT false. In 2010, Women were 21 times more likely to be the victim of sexual crimes than men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (0.1 cases per 1000 males, and 2.1 cases per 1000 females per year). Not only that, but the vast majority of cases of male sexual assault victims were assaulted by another male. Debate on the subject is fine, but let's at least get our facts straight. 03:12, 12 May 2014 (UTC)Greg
You are right, but this comic is more about women using this fact to cover their own capabilities to talk to a "interesting" man. And because your facts are correct it must be mentioned at this explain. But this comic is also about the "strange" behave done by women to men; hard to understand by a man. And because this comic is still even more complicated this gets an incomplete tag with your mentions. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:28, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Greg. Let us indeed 'get our facts straight'. More men are raped in the US than women, figures on prison assaults reveal 22:50, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
As a point of departure, The Daily Mail isn't exactly known for its sterling reporting record, and the article cited above is no exception. It cherry picks from two different sources (prison and non-prison populations) as well as two different definitions (sexual abuse and rape) in order to concoct a sensational and ultimately inaccurate headline. We are comparing two entirely different sets of populations: incarcerated vs. non-incarcerated (even ignoring the fact that it's also men in US prisons who are the bad actors). I'm surprised I even need to point out the difference. One should hope that the daily atmosphere in US society writ large is not marked by the same hyper-aggression and mental illness that exists in federal prisons. Further, according to BJS, in 2010 approximately 270,000 women experienced and reported sexual assault, compared to 17,400 men, and, yes, the 218,000 inmates in 2008 (not specified whether male or female in the Daily Mail article). I appreciate honest attempts to move a conversation forward, but please let's try to be consistent and intellectually rigorous in our arguments and rebuttals. Orazor (talk) 07:27, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
I hope that the Daily Mail reference was a joke. That publication certainly is. Is this continuing debate the only reason the explanation is incomplete? I'm not sure it applies. What is the definition of incomplete anyway? 15:10, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
2.1 in a 1000? That still leaves 997.9 in a 1000. If those odds are enough to make you shun an entire half of the human population, then you might be paranoid. And those 2.1 probably tend to occur in certain situations and certain places, although I'm loathe to actually make any claims without the data to back me up. Yes, there is still misogyny in our society, Tumblr feminists, but the majority of us would never knowingly hurt anybody, females included. So while carrying mace in your purse is understandable, not speaking to a cute non-psychotic guy because you think that the moment you show any interest in him, he won't let you go until he has had your way with you, that's a bit too much. And ironically, it still ends up placing the blame on the victims of such encounters. "Oh, but you talked to him first, you shouldn't have recognized his existence. Everybody knows you don't recognize a male's existence or else you're asking for it." 14:26, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Here's a fun statistic. Somewhere between 1 in 20 and 1 in 200 men has raped somebody, based on a simple calculation of the number of american rapes versus the number of american men. It's 1 in 20 if you assume that the average American rapist accounts for ten victims; in truth, the average american rapist accounts for only six, meaning that 1 in 20 is a lower bound. 1 in 200 is roughly the figure you get for a lower bound if you pretend that every rape is reported.
How's that for risk? -- Comment police (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Thank you so much for not citing any sources whatsoever. That is completely, striaght-up, flat-out false. 09:28, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
I feel like you also might be missing that the figure of 2.1 in 1000 is IN A WORLD WHERE WOMEN ARE HYPERCAUTIOUS ABOUT THIS. it does not work as an argument for them being less vigilant. 19:50, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
According to the UN, its more like 333 out of 1000: "On average, at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime." -- 17:02, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
PS: There is not a single excuse for rape and also no way to "ask for it". Except to actually ask for it (consensual non-consent); but then its not called rape anymore. -- 17:06, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

I think this cartoon elegantly captures the age-old challenge of dating: how to make contact with someone you find attractive, without contravening the social mores of your time - be it not talking to someone you have not been introduced to in the Victorian times, not making eye-contact in a bar unless you are "available" late last century, as well as the practice using any number of props such as witty opening lines, proclaiming a shared interest in poetry, accidentally running into each other at second hand book fairs or the joining the local skydiving club. The specific example here flags out the fears of "cyber social rejection" as another component to how we arbitrarily constrain the dynamic of "boy wants to meet girl, girl wants to meet boy" -- ZenDad (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I don't think this should be tagged as incomplete. The explanation looks pretty complete to me. 02:09, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

I think men often like to imagine that women in public are just sitting there thinking, 'I hope this man notices me. Everything I'm doing is so that he'll notice me.' Whereas most women in public are just living their lives -- commuting or reading or writing their blog, because they want to commute or read or write their blog, not because they hope that by doing that action they will attract a man's attention. There have been endless articles in recent years about how women generally don't want to be bothered in public, and how they are frustrated with men who persist in trying to talk to them when they are clearly uninterested, which can feel threatening. The page, "when women refuse" is vital in understanding the fear many women rightly have about rejecting even a polite seeming man, and why many would rather not be bothered in the first place. Regardless though, even women who are open to being approached in a public setting still do not live their whole lives thinking about how their actions will attract a man. Just look at any recent article of women explaining why they wear makeup. Don't assume women are doing things in order to seem more attractive to you. They're just living their lives. sr (talk)

Okay. This has nothing to do with the comic. 10:20, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
This has everything to do with the comic. This is typical male wish-fulfilment fantasy on Randall's part. Women do not want to be approached in public by men, as the very well-written comment by sr above explains. Context is everything! If a woman is sitting by herself in a singles bar then feel free to approach. If she's just out in public going about her day, leave her the fuck alone! -- The Cat Lady (talk) 13:23, 19 August 2021 (UTC)
Most of the time, sure, but definitely not all the time. "Leave her the fuck alone" is the right approach in general, but it causes minor anguish for girls like the one in the comic. 19:51, 11 September 2021 (UTC)
The point is that "girls like the one in the comic" are a male wish fulfillment fantasy and do not exist in real life. If a woman is sitting on a bus, it's because she needs to get to wherever the bus is going.

I hate to say anything in this type of conversation because I usually make things worse, but just a PSA that nobody's personal experience is representative of more than 3 billion people. Lots of good assessments of this comic have been made, but I think we shouldn't lose sight of the origin of this comic. It's a *lighthearted* way of bringing up the issue of being anxious in public. The characters in this comic are not unrealistic; they may not be like you, or most people, but they are perfectly plausible. And this comic isn't Randall indulging his fantasy; it's just encouraging openness because most people are fine with starting conversations. Randall isn't being creepy here, and I think the explanation for the comic explains it nicely. But I guess it's likely for the oh-so-intelligent readers of XKCD to use it that way, so fair point. (Nafedalbi) 2:00 PM, December 8, 2021 (UTC)

Yes 100%. NAfedalbi, that was the PERFECT explanation for this comic. Thank you. :) Apollo11 (talk) 17:22, 1 May 2024 (UTC)