655: Climbing

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 18:34, 31 May 2024 by (talk) (Undo revision 343369 by (talk) Title text belies that third option (and, to some lesser degree, the second option).)
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Where did you even get this wall? Return it there and stand it back up right now.
Title text: Where did you even get this wall? Return it there and stand it back up right now.


This comic makes fun of a certain type of images very common on the internet. Those pictures are taken with a camera turned by 90° or rotated later by software, thus creating the illusion of people walking on walls or ceilings. While the original pictures depict the physical impossibility of a rotated gravitational force, Cueball uses the aforementioned technique to create pictures of himself on a climbing wall. Megan approaches him from above the wall, indicating that the climbing wall is in fact lying on the floor. It becomes clear that Cueball was not able to climb a real wall and therefore crawled on the floor with his camera adjusted accordingly.

Her comment is a sideswipe on the practise of self-display on Facebook, which is often done with the help of image manipulation.

The title text implies that Cueball has in fact stolen a real climbing wall, and that Megan wants him to return it.

An alternative reading is that Cueball could be climbing a relatively easy climbing wall, and the joke is it’s so easy that Megan can walk on it, and Cueball is so bad at (or new to) rock climbing that he might perceive it as hard; thus, Megan impresses the viewers more than Cueball by showing how easy the course is.


[Cueball seen from his back, as he is ascending a gray climbing wall with 16 white handles in different shapes and sizes. He is standing on one near the bottom left of the panel with his left foot, holding on to a large handle to the left of his head, and one to the right at shoulder height. His right foot is seeking hold on another handle above knee hight of his left leg.]
[Cueball is seen in profile still climbing up the gray wall, which is drawn in the right part of the panel, 13 handles protruding. At the top of the panel something is protruding from the wall at more than ninety degree angle to the wall, as the line soon goes off panel at the top, but it seems to be directed at a small white half circle at the top of the panel. The line begins in front of the last of the handles at the top, a small one, and below this there is a larger handle bending up making it easy to hold on to. Cueball is holding on with his hands to two similar "easy" handles.]
[Cueball climbs a bit further up till his hand reaches the up bending handle in front of the line, and his lower leg and upper knee touches the two handles his hands where on before. Here he has stopped climbing and lifts his head back to look up and sees Megan standing there above him (as she was also doing at the top of the previous panel, but cut off at leg and face). She just stands perpendicular to the wall facing down towards Cueball. The panel has panned up following Cueball so there are only 11 handles now, two more visible "above" Megan, and four from the previous panel are now below this panels frame.]
[Same scene but Cueball is now looking at the wall as Megan speaks.]
Megan: Your Facebook rock climbing pictures just got a lot less impressive.

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Apart from the fact that it could be obvious from the background, many of the portable versions of these walls are mounted on trailers and designed to lay horizontally for transportation (as opposed to having to be disassembled). With a bit of quicktalk or an attendant who has a sense of humor, this would be easy to do. Of course, the title text makes it seem like that was not what Cueball had done. Tryc (talk) 19:40, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

The "that's what she said" joke: just because it's possible doesn't mean it was intended. 23:46, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Unrelated to the comic, but I went on a school camping trip once and this comic appeared in the pamphlet they gave us about rock climbing. R3TRI8UTI0N (talk) 09:16, 21 March 2023 (UTC)