610: Sheeple

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Hey, what are the odds -- five Ayn Rand fans on the same train! Must be going to a convention.
Title text: Hey, what are the odds -- five Ayn Rand fans on the same train! Must be going to a convention.


The people in this comic think of each other as sheep, blindly following directions without thinking for themselves. The word "sheeple" from the title has been used before in xkcd in the phrase "Wake up Sheeple!" In this comic, each person on the train considers themselves to be the only individual mind and everyone around them as "sheep". Ironically, the reader can see that although each of them thinks about how individual they are, they collectively think exactly the same thing, meaning that they are all sheeple. The comic can also be taken as a warning to not assume that you have more consciousness than someone else, since for all you know they could think the same about you.

Ayn Rand was a Russian-born American novelist and activist whose most famous books include Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, and The Fountainhead. She developed a philosophy known as Objectivism, which promotes individual fulfillment (or so-called "rational self-interest") at the expense of collective goals and undertakings. Sheeple coordinates with Ayn Rand's novel, Anthem, set in the distant future in which the word "I" has been abolished and the evils of the communal values have created a new dark age.

A possible further irony can be found in the title text. Rand enthusiasts would seek individualism and independence from social pressures; however, a convention could be interpreted as a social collective of people who have similar interests in a subject. These ideas could arguably be construed to be opposites of each other. However, similar interests do not mean a lack of individualism: this can be seen in Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged", which features a society of like-minded people centered around the concepts of individualism and neoliberalism.


[A thought bubble is shared between the five occupants of a subway car (four Cueballs and one Ponytail).]
All: Look at these people. Glassy-eyed automatons going about their daily lives, never stopping to look around and think! I'm the only conscious human in a world of sheep.

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So, I'm a high schooler. I recently found out most people my age don't care about outside politics and stuff like that. On the other hand, I always think that they do. But now I'm actually starting to believe this. I mean, what do people care about, then?

Which one is Paul Ryan? 00:44, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

tsk tsk tsk... somebody has been watching too much of the msnbc propaganda... Douglasadams472 20:56, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Probably the one with the briefcase full of money. :P Hogtree Octovish (talk) 09:25, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

Beret guy?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 09:11, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

I find another possible humor in tile text: Ironically, Rand fans would find the concept of a collective rather revolting. A convention is in essence a gathering of everyone who has an interest in a subject, and is thus an "average of averages" (to quote Rand herself) on the respective subject. Fans who take Rand's philosophy as intended would probably find amassing themselves with others in a social hodge-podge of people without much function, mindless discussion, and re-iterating the ideas of someone else, to be against Rand's theory of Objectivism... Unless their Libertarians, of course. Jinx 20:31, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

I wonder if this was the same train that blew the Taggart tunnel... Nemo 14:46, 24 April 2014 (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. --Kynde (talk) 15:06, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Be different: conform.

-- Fortune

"If we're going to wear uniforms, let's all wear something different"; Tommy Chong -- The Cat Lady (talk) 15:40, 17 August 2021 (UTC)

another smbc parallel (smbc coming later) in this comic -- 02:18, 1 June 2022 (UTC)

A subtle version of Monty Python's Life of Brian's crowd's in-unison parroting of "Yes, We Are All Individuals!"... And hopefully as good a lesson to be learnt from. ;) 14:58, 18 January 2023 (UTC)