1317: Theft

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Theft
Is he ALSO wondering at what point our thoughts diverged, if they even have yet? 'dude, I think he just took your credit card' AM I THE ORIGINAL? HOW DO I TELL?
Title text: Is he ALSO wondering at what point our thoughts diverged, if they even have yet? 'dude, I think he just took your credit card' AM I THE ORIGINAL? HOW DO I TELL?

[edit] Explanation

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, where the victim here appears to be Randall himself. The thief has apparently taken on Randall's love of space as well as his existential angst. The character Megan also expresses existential angst in 625: Collections. 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 is spoken by Randall, in which he wonders about the specifics of the identity acquisition process: at what point did their thoughts diverge, if ever? Presumably, even someone whose personality is complete copy of someone else's would still have different thoughts at some point. This is depicted in the comic itself. The thief is baffled by his newly acquired interests, while Randall himself would not be baffled by the thoughts and interests he's developed over his entire life. Randall also wonders whether his new doppelganger is wondering the same thing, which could imply that their thoughts have not fully diverged.

Someone else comments that Randall may be overthinking the situation, and that the thief only took his credit card information (a common method of identity theft), which would not transfer personality traits. However, Randall's anxiety has overwhelmed him. He ignores the speaker and expresses his worry that there is now no way to discern whether he is the original Randall or the "copy."

[edit] Transcript

[Randall sits in front of a laptop, looking at his hands]
Randall: I feel paralyzed by overwhelming existential dread.
Randall: ...and yet for some reason I'm really excited about space?
The thief who stole my identity has a lot to deal with.
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Discussion

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--173.245.55.78 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! 108.162.216.57 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?199.27.128.137 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. 141.101.99.220 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.--173.245.52.188 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.)"--108.162.242.8 00:29, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
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