This comic is one of Randal's best EVER! It is a scathing and biting commentary on the current angst of a huge swath of liberal and progressive snowflakes.
The first panel sets the stage with a subtle but jarring inversion of the normal human response "bad thing happened >>> I feel sad" to the much more autocentric "I feel sad >>> bad things are happening" Worth a derisive snort in its own right, we can accept this little lapse since we are deluged with so many examples of such self interest from every direction today. Ignoring the little deviation ( never something one should do with xkcd) we accept the lead-in panel as simply saying "bad things are happening"
The second panel is a riff on the "something bad happened therefore someone is to blame" meme of modern Western society - examples such as blame the coffee supplier if one scalds oneself spilling hot coffee, blame the company that grinds up and sells powdered rock for any perceived negative effects of assiduously dusting said powdered rock over ever body orifice and breathing it for thirty years. This is a masterful set up! We now know where the joke is going! Cueball is going to come up with an absurd and funny scapegoat for the bad things happening in panel one! We are ready for the punchline....
But the punchline is not that at all! It is exquisite! The blame is on Cueball's Facebook friends! We hang in the moment of disbelief where our world view must be reset! Then it hits! We realize the the blame is not for "bad things happening" at all - we have been set up, had! The blame is for Cue ball's "Feeling sad"! It is not for all the harm, blood, guts, and gore that are really happening in the world but for the fact that something - his Facebook friends specifically, have caused him to think about these bad things, penetrating his safe bubble and making him sad.
That the "bad things" are more than likely simply the shocked and hurt feelings of Cueball's friends as a result of the recent 2016 election only heightens the joke. No real human suffering is usually openly discussed in the shallows of Facebook. We realize this and the satire is complete.
The mouse over text emphasizes the break from real issues to the relatively shallow feelings (being "scared") and even more shallow and petty response (yelling at them). 188.8.131.52 19:42, 20 November 2016 (UTC)
You seem to lack the skill of introspection. It's not the "inversion of normal response" (bad things are happening because I feel sad), it's an observation that I feel sad and the investigation into why that is. [I feel sad. (Why is that?) Bad things are happening. (Why are they?) They must be someone's fault. But whose?] The punchline is that Cueball's conclusion that his Facebook friends are to blame indicates the state of intense frenzy on the site. 184.108.40.206 18:43, 10 December 2016 (UTC)
It seems like he's talking about all of the bad things that have happened in 2016 so far making fun of Facebook posts that blame everyone for the things that are happening
220.127.116.11 05:21, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
- In particular the recent election18.104.22.168 08:16, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
Is this a reference to the "echo chamber" issue raised in recent US election? I.e. blaming my friends on facebook for only sharing stories that reinforce my biases and thus my failure to be fully informed about why people who disagree with me do disagree and only blaming them for being dumb isn't a failing on *my* part, but on my friends' parts for only sharing echo-chamber-y material. 22.214.171.124 10:03, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
I definitely think it's worth mentioning that this comic is, while written to be timeless, clearly a reaction to the election. (Randall has endorsed both Obama in 2008 and Clinton this year, and judging by #500, cares more than a little, so it's hard to conceive that this *wouldn't* be about the election.)
There are two types of Facebook activity that may be the target of this satire: 1) engaging in angry arguments with Facebook friends with *differing* political opinions, and 2) making numerous angry posts and comments against the other side, despite the fact that they’ll mainly be seen by *like-minded* people in your social media echo chamber. I expect that this comic is aimed at both: 1) the futility of internet arguments has been a topic before, while 2) the title text specifying “scared friends” clearly indicates like-minded people. 126.96.36.199 10:22, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
- Just added the "friends who disagree" to it.
By focusing on blame he has cleverly shifted thinking to Q:"are your friends on Facebook to blame?" A:"probably not as they are almost all likely to have similar views to you" Q:"So why vent anger on Facebook to people who aren't to blame and you don't want to change?" A:"errrrrr...." 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
There are 3 references in my recent edit. If you go into the source code, you can see the links, but I lack the wikipedia knowledge to get them to properly link out. Help? Djbrasier (talk) 14:13, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
Couldn't it just be that it is usual for politicians to blame "the others" (countries, etc) to justify that things are not all good in the country, and then, proceed to threaten to do bad things (go to war, revoke treaties, etc) to appease the "country's inner sadness" (and, through this, get votes) ? 184.108.40.206 14:53, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
My inclination was to take this as satirizing the number of people who have taken to Facebook to rant about an event that was clearly not the fault of one's immediate circle. However one feels about the election it's clear that spewing venom at anyone who happens to be in your Facebook list is unproductive at best and certainly isn't addressing any appreciable portion of the cause of these events. It seemed to be supported by taking the hover text as a continuation of the problem, suggesting that Cueball has devolved to seeking catharsis. 220.127.116.11 17:00, 18 November 2016 (UTC)jrow
- Agreed, I took this comic to be a satirical attack on people who post all caps angry messages on Facebook. EX: "I can't believe all you people did this!" , when 90% of their friends probably agree with them (See "Echo Chambers" comments)- it's almost certainly in context of the election, as "Scared Friends" represents a great many Clinton voters very well right now. The clear interpretation to me is that people posting these angry Facebook rants are not going through normal, well-thought out processes.18.104.22.168 23:11, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
This explanation currently claims venting can reduce stress. I have heard that venting actually makes you angrier. (First Google hit appears to be a scientific paper: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/jbickfor/bushman2002.pdf ). 22.214.171.124 20:53, 18 November 2016 (UTC)
The reference to yelling is obviously sarcasm. Nobody would really suggest the absurd idea that Randall really thinks yelling at friends is acceptable, so really what is being highlighted is that yelling at friends is NOT a good idea. The explanation text should not suggest that the idea is anything other than absurd. --Rotan (talk) 00:15, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
This could be a critique of the specific social media. The true meaning being expressed by what is not included: "My Friends on Facebook" as compared with all the other areas in which one would have friends, e.g. "My Friends at the Coffee Shop" or "My Friends at Work". It could also be intended for the reader to infer through abductive reasoning that the algorithms (user interface) of which facebook is composed may promote this type of behavior. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)188.8.131.52 02:14, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
Why Facebook: http://arstechnica.com/staff/2016/11/its-time-to-get-rid-of-the-facebook-news-feed-because-its-not-news/ --JakubNarebski (talk) 12:35, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
I think Randall is trying to address all the Clinton supporters who said to their longtime social media friends, "If you voted for Trump, you're a sexist, racist piece of ****, and you should get out of my life forever," and other similar things, because there were a LOT of those people on social media, despite every liberal icon from Michael Moore to Bill Maher telling people to protest and to fight much harder than usual, but also respect the political process (IE, don't riot if there's no last minute electoral college switch). When Obama was in the White House, the the far-right Republicans did awful things governed by fear. Now with Trump, I hope the far-left Democrats don't do anything crazy ALSO governed by fear, because that will just lead to more white people becoming Republicans because they felt unwelcome by the Democrats. Just my opinion. 184.108.40.206 19:27, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
It occurs to me that the joke is simply about relative perception. Before facebook the media was the primary source for most people to make political decisions. I have heard it repeated by the media that Trump "used" social media to influence voters. Ergo, similar to that of the gun argument "if guns did not exist, there would be less violent crime" I feel that Randall is making a simile by saying "if facebook did not exist, Trump would not have been elected" and, by extension, we would not know as much about the magnitude of bad happenings in the world. Therefore, the first contact cause of Randall's sadness both before and after the election is Facebook. However, there's a reason he chose to blame facebook users and not just facebook. If facebook users were more like him and generally promoted positive aspects of the world (or at least be more balanced), he theorises that everyone (including Randall) would be more likely to be upbeat and positive. This, of course presumes a number of things, the simplest of which is that the world would be better if things went the way Cueball wanted them to. 220.127.116.11
So uhm, did whoever wrote the above explanation not understand the concept of sarcasm? Because this comic comes off as 100% sarcastic to me, and yet it's taking it very seriously. 18.104.22.168 09:51, 20 November 2016 (UTC)
It's quite simple what it means, I'm not sure why people aren't getting it. Randall is trying to bring balance as currently everyone is lashing out against their own friends on facebook as a result of the anger of Hillary losing. He's being sarcastic to highlight the absurdity of the thought process that people blame their friends for the "bad things happening". I was quite peeved that he got political, but this comic undid a lot of my peevedness. I'm not sure who wrote the page here, but they clearly have no clue what this comic is about? --Drkaii (talk) 00:08, 29 November 2016 (UTC)
It is a bit odd that everyone thinks Randall went political and this is all about the election. I wonder how many more panels will be interpreted in this light before the wounds heal and people get back to work making their life and country work. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Explain XKCD's talk pages are an art form all their own. Whether Randall is commenting on the election in the comic or not (he probably is), this talk page managed to exactly recreate, like a time capsule, the frenzied insanity of the post-2016 election internet, on which the comic itself is (probably) commenting. The talk page on the comic with the actual endorsement is plenty dramatic, but this one is all the DNA of that week's petty insanity preserved in amber while discussing a comic discussing that week's petty insanity. A++++ would read again. 126.96.36.199 00:39, 27 July 2020 (UTC)