2276: Self-Isolate

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Turns out I've been "practicing social distancing" for years without even realizing it was a thing!
Title text: Turns out I've been "practicing social distancing" for years without even realizing it was a thing!


This comic is the second comic in a row in a series of comics about the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this comic, Cueball is watching television and hears a suggestion that people may need to "self-isolate." This refers to the practice of isolating infected individuals, to keep the disease from spreading. If the pandemic grows more severe, going out in large crowds could also be discouraged, to avoid being infected by those around you.

According to the HHS, both quarantine and isolation help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, but they are different. Quarantine is for well people who might have been exposed to see if they become sick. Isolation is for sick people to keep them from infecting healthy people. So the suggestion for self-isolation means that sick people should stay away from healthy people.

Cueball's response to this advice is that he's "been practicing for this moment [his] whole life". xkcd frequently refers to social awkwardness, introversion, and difficulty with interpersonal interactions. Cueball (likely representing Randall himself) appears to find spending time in public and with large groups trying. It's implied that he prefers to spend time alone (or possibly with small groups of family and close friends) rather than going out. The joke is that this tendency is often seen as unhealthy and alienating, but in the case of a pandemic, actually becomes quite valuable. Cueball seems to take an odd sort of pride in the fact that he's skilled at remaining alone and uninfected, while more social people would be in danger.

The comic image is a link to one tweet in a thread of tweets about COVID-19 by @kakape, a science journalist according to their Twitter bio, which says "Social distancing may mean staying further apart from each other physically in coming weeks. We should compensate by caring even more about each other than usually, because we are, of course, all in this together." (beginning of thread).

In the title text, Cueball continues to be proud of his introversion, claiming that he has been "practicing social distancing" for much of his life.


[Cueball sits in an armchair watching television. A zigzag line from the TV indicates that the text is a voice from the TV.]
Voice from television: Experts are saying people may need to "self-isolate" to combat the virus.
[A slim beat panel with Cueball sitting silent in the armchair.]
[Zoomed in on Cueball in the armchair. A starburst on the right border indicates the voice from an off-panel person.]
Cueball: ... I've been practicing for this moment my whole life.
Off-panel voice: I don't think that's—
Cueball: Quick, make plans and watch how fast I cancel!

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Where should it be documented that this image links to a tweet (that this feels like it is in response to)? 22:29, 4 March 2020 (UTC)

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/kakape/status/1235319133585248259 Quote: "...Social distancing may mean staying further apart from each other physically in coming weeks..." -Kai Kupferschmidt 22:49, 4 March 2020 (UTC)

If this goes on next we should say this is a series. -- Overlord of oddities (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not really a series if they do not have anything other than subject in common. --Kynde (talk) 09:32, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Changed the name used to the scientific name of the species. Gotta promote the real name before it's too late. 04:58, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Should there be a category for diseases, and is there a better name than Category:Diseases ?? --Kynde (talk) 09:32, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Here is a list of comics I could just find with a quick search:
There will likely be many more. So just a catchy name, but not coronavirus category... ;-) --Kynde (talk) 10:03, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Was the tweet published at exactly the same moment as this comic? Seems like Randall colluded with the Twitterer here. 12:13, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

OMG, I am so in tune with Cueball here. This is a great case of RGOOMH "Randall Get Out Of My Head". Rtanenbaum (talk) 13:55, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Misread it as Self-immolate which was confusing but ignoring the last panel, equally as funny. Anonymous (talk) 10:16, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

I so want to be back in a world in which "self-isolate" needs to be in scare quotes 21:08, 17 May 2021 (UTC)