Talk:1348: Before the Internet

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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I'm pretty sure that Randall doesn't make this mistake, but "Before the Internet" and "Before the Web" are two very different things in a way that old fogeys like myself (and him) tend to mutter on about when anyone younger than maybe 40 make the mistake of conflating the two. If that's Exploit Mom, she'd probably be too young to really know times pre-Internet in the truest sense. (Although "before the layperson knew about the Internet" could be placed somewhere in the mid-to-late '90s, which is after the early '90s inception of the Web.) Enough pedantry. Someone needs to make a more useful comment than the above, and quickly! 06:00, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

The person asking the question is a child-character. The adult-character then followed up with a clarification question "[Do you mean] not having a phone or computer to distract you?". Though, in your "truest sense", "before the Internet" and "the first decade or so of the Internet" would be mostly the same. The Internet didn't have much of an impact on or value to society until after it reached a certain size.[1] 07:15, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Yeahbut you're still conflating "Internet" and "Web". "The first decade or so of the Internet" still takes us up to maybe the start of the '80s at the latest. A college/university student of that time is now in now in their 40s (hence the "[Even, sic] if that's Exploit Mom"), and I don't think that the adult character looks old enough. Hack off ten years or so (for the first Web Generation to find their new distraction, via AOL if not their college) and I think it would work better. Of course, I don't dismiss Megan/whoever being a little sparing with the truth for a good tale. 23:11, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
What society refers to as the "Internet" didn't really surface until the mid-to-late 90s. Before that, the systems that formed an "internet" (lower-case, to refer to the generic concept of wide-area interconnected systems) was only barely accessible to the public, and the systems that were connected this way in the early 80s were part of the original ARPANET that was primarily used by the military. In short, the "Internet" that we take for granted today was a product of its own discovery, which largely occurred in the mid-90s. An average-aged mom with a kid in the average age range to be asking questions like the one in this comic would probably have grown up in the 80s. 03:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. Like I said, there's pedantry involved in this issue. But the internet (OSI layer 1-3 or 4, depending on how you define it) was named circa 1974 and pre-existed that in a vaguely recognisable form at the tail-end of the '60s. And is different from the web (OSI layer 7, itself). It's just an observation, and I would just count the adult in the strip as an 'unreliable narrator', whether intentionally or otherwise. 04:50, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

I read a lot. Before the internet was cheap, I would go to the library on my bike, borrow 5 books (the limit), read them all and go to the library again. On a good weekend day I could repeat this 3 or 4 times. Some books I've read thousands of times. Relevant irrelevant comment108.162.218.41 07:18, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Very impressive. Libraries are typically open for 8 hours a day, so you read 15-20 (3-4 x 5) books in 8 hours. That's about 30 minutes per book.
A short novel is about 200 pages. I'm an accomplished reader, and I read about a page a minute. Assuming you read exclusively short novels, you managed 7 pages a minute, or 3500 words per minute, or one page every 10 seconds. That's about three times the 1000-words-per-minute limit on human skim-reading comprehension. I'm very impressed!
This may explain why you have had to read some books thousands of times. At a reading speed of 3500 words per minute, your comprehension was likely extremely poor, necessitating you to go back many times to understand what was going on. May I suggest that in future, you read more slowly, so that you can understand better the first time? You'll enjoy what you're reading so much more. 17:11, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Does this comic even need explaining? Pretty self-explanatory of you ask me. — 08:04, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

I think some sort of explanation relating to why this is funny. It is sort of the opposite of the standard nostalgia. Rather like our parents generation may have had a similar discussion with their parents about the invention of TV (add a generation if you are too young). When you think about it, it is a bit odd how society is keen to develop tech to make things better, and at the same time declare that things were better in the past. We sometimes get quite good expositions on this sort of thing here... hopefully someone with some sociology/psychology knowledge can explain this a bit better. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Agreed it's fairly self-explanatory. The 'reverse-nostalgia' point is interesting. I guess the joke here is kind of that the Mom is making it sound like there was nothing to do before the internet, whereas in reality there was plenty to do; people weren't sitting around waiting for the internet to be invented so they didn't know that it was a thing that could be missing from their lives, it just seems that way now because we can't imagine our lives without it. In a way, it's almost a variation on the classic 'we can't watch TV, it hasn't been invented yet' joke. 11:31, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
People weren't sitting around waiting for Internet to be invented. Computers already existed, so people were walking around with floppy disks (or tapes) and saying things like "It would be great if we could exchange data while sitting home ..." -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:48, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
My main question is whether the Mom character is being serious or sarcastic - as in the way some people like to wind children up by giving them made-up answers to questions. 11:33, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, she could be messing with her by just answering with the opposite of what she's clearly expected to say in this exchange. I think the joke works both ways. Enchantedsleeper (talk) 15:24, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Of course the past was better. Before the Internet, I had lot of free time I could spend whatever I wanted. Now I'm forced to spend most of day in work. Oh, wait, that isn't because of Internet but because I was child and had summer holiday and now I'm adult. (Also, the Internet technically exists since December 1974, but for most people, mid-1990s is start of Internet and my "before the Internet" refers to that). -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:48, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Isn't this a joke on how older people say younger people don't interact with eachother unless through cellphone etc. Even if they are sitting right next to eachother--Nitho (talk) 11:59, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

I kindof took this joke as a variation on upstaging a complainer, i.e., "When I was your age, we walked uphill...both ways". Elvenivle (talk) 22:24, 4 September 2018 (UTC)


In 1105: License Plate we can see Ponytail is a police officer. Therefore she must be at least 22, and therefore she was born before 1990. If this comic features Ponytail, then it must be set at most in 2000 (when Ponytail was 10). But in 2000 or before people didn't have smartphones. In my opinion this comic is set in 2014, and therefore the girl character is not Ponytail but simply a girl with a ponytail. 12:44, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Or maybe 1105: License Plate was set in 2024?
While we are identifying Randalls characters by how they are drawn, I don't think he does. (except for Blackhat and Beret Guy) -- Xorg (talk) 13:20, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Of course he doesn't. In 1344: Digits it was arbitrary to label one character as Cueball and the other as Guy. 17:34, 28 March 2014 (UTC) (I'm

I'd like to state my opinion that I think that Megan is being serious. I'm old enough to remember a time before internet and personal computers were widespread and my recollection is EXACTLY the same as Megan's.

^^Yes - I was there, and we were bored. If you were on the toilet and didn't have an old Reader's Digest handy, you read the bottles of Dr. Bronner's or shampoo bottles - I can still say "methylchloroisothiazolinone" without the slightest hitch or hesitation. 07:00, 14 May 2021 (UTC)

I grew up before television, we would listen to shows on the radio. There were comedies, dramas, cop shows, mysteries, it was wonderful! The whole family would be gathered in the living room, listening to Hitchcock's Half Hour, Men From The Ministry, Father Dear Father, Z-Squad, etc. I actually wish television had never been invented. -- The Cat Lady (talk) 15:42, 24 October 2021 (UTC)

Funny how Megan complains about daytime TV when Randall dedicated quite a few comics to the show Firefly. 02:06, 27 August 2022 (UTC)

Hardly the same, of course. One is seemingly never-ending drivel of various mundane kinds the other was far too brief (unlike that of other initially promising shows like Lost) and never managed to long outlast its novelty and innovative development. (And if you actually hated Firefly, you could avoid it much more than you might avoid 'daytime TV', assuming you had as few other options available to you as typical back in those days.)
Of course, there are those who are entranced by the 'daytime TV'... single-header social-belligerance shows (e.g. Jerry Springer), double-header magazine types (the types mixing consumer advice, book-clubs, health issues, etc, whatever kept the Power Couple presenters and occasional regular guest expert occupied for an hour or three), whatever came before the current Property-/Auction-/Auctioned Property-porn fad, those rapid turnover gameshows (I must admit that I would not be upset to be forced to watch the occasional one or two of these, but most grow stale on me fairly quickly), some cheesy high-volume daytime soap or other, and if any more of the time needs infilling then probably some much-repeated detective drama (as far as I'm concerned, I could watch Columbos forever, but that's the main exception).
...but I think Randall's audience are more likely to be (potential, even if now 'retro') Firefly fans than dedicated 'daytime TV' addicts; assuming they get the time to watch either. Or at least can relate to the general preference.
And gone are the days of 'event television', with streaming taking over from even VCR-mediated time-shifted viewing (so you could go out of an evening and still hopefully watch that night's Soap to chat about by the watercooler the next day, if that was your thing). Boredom in the era of a potentially Binge-Watched-Series from a whole host of choices is a different beast entirely. And that ignores everything from YouTube(/PornHub) dipping to the hours you might spend trying to grind and advance your zombie/pirate/robot/whatever-proofed settlement in that latest App game you downloaded. 10:59, 27 August 2022 (UTC)