Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
The term "identity theft" refers to a thief acquiring various types of a victim's identification (for example, bank account number and/or Social Security number), thus allowing the thief to pretend to be the victim and commonly steal money from the victim's bank account, etc.
This comic exaggerates the term, interpreting it as the thief literally acquiring the victim's whole personality. Like Cueball & Megan in general, the victim is implied to have some Randallian personality traits, like the love of space and existential angst. Thus, the thief is now completely overwhelmed by having an entirely new personality, not to mention one whose parts clash with each other.
The title text ponders the specifics of the identity acquisition process. Presumably, even two people whose personalities are identical would still start to think different thoughts. (This is a prerequisite for the depiction in the comic; the thief is baffled by his newly acquired interests, while the victim would not be baffled by the thoughts and interests they've developed over their entire life.) It is also wondered whether the victims new doppelganger is wondering the same thing, which could imply that their thoughts have not fully diverged. A friend comments that the victim may be overthinking the situation, and that the thief only took his credit card information. (A common method of identity theft. Does not transfer personality traits.) However, the victim is overwhelmed by existential anxiety.
- [An identity thief sits in front of a laptop, looking at his hands]
- Thief: I feel paralyzed by overwhelming existential dread.
- Thief: ...and yet for some reason I'm really excited about space?
- [under the panel is text that reads:]
- The thief who stole my identity has a lot to deal with.
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!
This comic seems to be about the idea that true identity theft would require the thief to take on the identity perfectly. The thief in the comic is Randall Munroe making fun of himself and how he is often existential and is excited about space... 1st post--22.214.171.124 05:19, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Maybe it's a shared account, so it really is Megan's own existentialism & Randall's love of space -- a true crisis!
126.96.36.199 15:10, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Is it worth mentioning the contextual element where this comic correlates with the relase of news of a rash of identity theft during the last quarter of 2013?188.8.131.52 00:54, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
The title text is a reference to a Greg Egan short story from the collection Axiomatic called Learning to be Me. 184.108.40.206 01:48, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
The description of identity theft is incorrect. Simple theft occurs when the thief takes money from the bank under false pretenses. Identity theft occurs when the bank decides to make it somebody else problem instead of taking on the chin and improving security.
The cartoon is mocking the common mis-perception of what identity theft is.--220.127.116.11 18:00, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Several other comics deal with existentialism, not just 625. If we're not going to mention ones like 167 or 220 then the wording should be changed to something like "(The character Megan also has a habit of expressing existential angst in comics such as 625: Collections.)"--18.104.22.168 00:29, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Either there should be a link that mentions Randall having existential angst, or it should be corrected to say the identity is from one of xkcd's characters, like Cueball or Megan. If I had a lot more time, I would search for these references. If someone else recognizes the importance of my opinion (if any), maybe there should be an incomplete tag too. 22.214.171.124 03:30, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
- I agree, there isn't sufficient justification that this is Randall. His self-portraits more typically resemble Cueball than Hairy (e.g. the dust jacket on the What If? book. Djbrasier (talk) 01:36, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
- But it seems clear from the character pose and speech lines that we're looking at the thief, not the victim. As for existential angst, it being a recurring theme in the comic (as noted by the comments above) suggests that it is unlikely for Randall to not feel that way at least sometimes. But the strongest evidence I would push back with is that Randall has never elsewhere used the first-person in captions to indicate a character. I've boldly removed the incomplete tag, though feel free to put it back if my argument is unconvincing. 126.96.36.199 14:38, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
- I'm somewhat unconvinced, but more troubled by the claim that this is showing the thief. It seems clear to me that it is the victim who is misunderstanding what it means for his identity to be stolen, as indicated by the title text. Djbrasier (talk) 04:29, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
- Okay. I've requested more eyes at the community portal. 188.8.131.52 14:22, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
Randall wouldn't be confused/coming to terms with know aspects of his personality. The Thief has newly acquired them and now is dealing with it. That's the joke.184.108.40.206 21:21, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Did Randall's Identity get stolen?220.127.116.11 04:47, 2 October 2015 (UTC)