1802: Phone

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 21:09, 22 February 2017 by (talk) (Explanation)
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[*disables social networking accounts*] [*social isolation increases*] Wait, why does this ALSO feel bad?
Title text: [*disables social networking accounts*] [*social isolation increases*] Wait, why does this ALSO feel bad?


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Seems pretty complete by now.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

When someone asks you if you wanna go for a walk they often expect to have a conversation, while enjoying both the exercise, the fresh air and the company. Thus any disturbance not related to the walk is not welcome. Going for a walk is often seen as a way to relax from all the daily stress, as it takes the walkers away from work and chores.

Cueball easily agrees to the walk, but not to all the other expectations. Because his first though is that he has to bring along his phone, hence the title. But he does not describe it as a phone, but rather what he wish to do with it, and calling other people is not on that list.

Instead he describes the phone as his device that gives him a continuous (24/7) stream of information, much of which is often out of context. The stream contains peoples opinions, context free but scary news, and other random stimuli.

The opinions could be from news or bloggers but it could also just be from his friends on Facebook and other social media platforms. News stories that are shared on social media are often scary, which becomes even worse because news outlets is likely to use a title that exaggerates the topic to create a fear reaction, in the hope that more people click though to look at the articles creating more interest around the news page. (Clickbait like that has been a recurring theme on xkcd). The random emotional stimuli could be from many things such as text messages/emails and pictures of kittens and babies on social network, and shared internet memes or viral videos. All things that could cause a quick shift in emotions.

As if all this was not enough to leave the phone at home, Cueball even says he will also take his spare battery, so he won't risk that his constant feed could be interrupted, because he will not be able to recharge his phone during the walk.

All in all his choice and constant need for staying updated and being on-line violates all the usual expectations, that his friend could have expected from asking him out for a walk.

The title text shows it would be possible to take an action to avoid this feed. In the first bracket a person (could be Cueball or Randall) disables all his social networking accounts. Most of his news feed will thus disappear. But this leads to the next bracket which states that such a choice would lead to increased social isolation, since he will no longer be in contact with any of his on-line friends. And today many people also get into contact with their "real" local friends through social media. One might thus miss out on events like parties or get-together, plus his friends not sharing a dislike for social media will not understand the decision. And this leads to the final sentence Wait, why does this ALSO feel bad? So there is not good choice, because it is bad to be off-line, but being on-line all the time is also bad. And it is hard to find the right balance. This problem with finding the right balance between two things seems related to the recent 1796: Focus Knob

Although this comic is not directly negative there is clear relation to previous recent comics like 1761: Blame and 1773: Negativity. The first blames Facebook friends for posting stories about bad things which makes Cueball heel sad. And the next also deal with the inability to escape the media during objectively peaceful pastimes. In Negativity Cueball walks outside without his phone, to avoid the negativity on the internet, but then even his lawn attacks him with the type of comments he walked outside to avoid. So that is the exact opposite to here, where he brings along his phone even though it will ruin the goal of the walk he is going to take. Although this comic is not as clearly negative or sad as other recent comic, there is a clear line between these, as this comic also shows that the news feed on your phone can be stressful and like Negativity (and Focus Knob), it is not really any help to avoid it all together. (See more on other recent depressive comics in this trivia.)


[Someone off-panel asks Cueball a question which he answers while walking to a small table with some items laying on it.]
Off-panel voice: Wanna go for a walk?
Cueball: Sure, just need to grab my device that feeds me a 24/7 stream of opinions, context-free scary world news, and random emotional stimuli.
Cueball: Plus a spare battery so the feed won't be interrupted.

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That was my first explanation I wrote from scratch so feel free to change stuff that is bad. note: someone else wrote the last bit I dont know who.XFez (talk) 14:39, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

I wrote last bit. My first from scratch edit too. I think that the spare battery is a portable battery pack. -- Mjychabaud22 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Hi XFez and Mjychabaud22, everyone is welcome to contribute. So, thanks for your work. Just be not too descriptive on things everybody can see.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:41, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

Though nowadays many smartphones have integrated (non-changeable) battery, there are some that still have battery that can be changed with a spare charged one.--JakubNarebski (talk) 17:59, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

No he says it is a spare battery. I have had that for my "older" phone because if I used it too much during a day, I would not have enough battery in the evening. --Kynde (talk) 18:44, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
Title text

The current explanation "...ends up feeling bad the whole walk" is not correct. The first two parts (in brackets) describe a fear about being disconnected from social interactions and the believe that a connection to the internet is essential. In the last part it is questioned why this ALSO feels bad. This implies that all those modern connections are not that bad at all. And: Maybe the brackets and the asterisks are a typo for some text formatting.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:15, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

Agree that the explanation is not complete. But I still believe that Randall thinks the constant stream of info is not good. But the alternative to isolate yourself is also not good. This is yet a relation to Blame and Negativity. You cannot live without social networking, but it will not make you happy anyway... I will try to rewrite it --Kynde (talk) 19:28, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
"Wait, why does this ALSO feel bad?" ->> disconnecting feels ALSO bad. The comic says that the modern info stream is bad; but the title text says that without it's ALSO bad. So in this comic the title text goes not further but backwards to the initial pun.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:36, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
Not it says this also feels bad. So both the news feed and not being on-line feels bad. The pun is that you are also not happy if you disconnect from the feed that makes you unhappy. This fits well with the other sad comics posted since November.) --Kynde (talk) 20:03, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

Anyone else think the Friday comic tomorrow will evolve around Exoplanets after the NASA press conference? --Kynde (talk) 16:49, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

I was thinking/hoping the same thing or a what-if about it.XFez (talk) 14:44, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
But it was not to be, either. So this time I guessed wrong. But I guessed the one about 1633: Possible Undiscovered Planets. Nice Randall is not predictable :-) But by the way the most cool discovery related to Exoplanets so far... Maybe he will return to the subject when they know more, or just later when he get a good idea for a comic. --Kynde (talk) 19:51, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

@ Dgbrt. Why do you keep insisting that Blame is not relevant when this comic is against being online to receive bad news all the time, for instance from friends on Social media. Both Blame and Negativity belongs together, one follow the other. And this is indeed another comic that indicate that Randall is sick of the info he receives on-line just as those other two! It was also the second comic in a row that he mentions problems about being on-line all the time via phones, although for two different reasons. So why is that not relevant. I will put it in again, and then let me hear some reason why you delete it all the time instead of just writing not relevant. I did reply above, but you just deleted without giving a valid reason. I think it is relevant! And only you have deleted it, so don't say others obviously agree with you! --Kynde (talk) 19:45, 26 February 2017 (UTC)