Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Anyone who thinks we're all going to spend the 2032 elections poring over rambling blog posts by teenagers has never tried to read a rambling blog post by a teenager.
This strip shows a discussion between an adult and a teenager about an aspect of the future. Randall likes this setup, allowing to put in perspective the various "decay" predictions and shows his optimism.
Here, the subject is scandal. How will a generation that is documenting and leaving behind a permanent public record of its juvenile misadventures - immature and impolitic writings, photographs of inebriation at parties posted on Facebook, Twitter posts about breakups, etc. - produce successful future politicians? Won't future opposition researchers and reporters have enough embarrassing material to destroy any Millennial's public reputation? In previous generations, juveniles were freer to go through this phase of development without leaving behind a digital record, making it easier to sidestep or paper over rumors of youthful misbehavior. See, e.g., George W. Bush, who dismissed questions about his rumored use of drugs in his youth by saying only, "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."
The child's answer, in addition to tweaking the adult about her generation's coming obsolescence, is that the next generation will be fine because in the future no one will care. The title text amplifies this optimistic message, suggesting that old blog posts by former teenagers will just seem boring, not salacious. Randall offers no explanation for this upbeat spin, but it is a recurring topic and some have argued elsewhere that the potential power of Internet-chronicled youthful indiscretions will be defused because everyone will be in the same boat, making future voters (and, in another context, employers) more tolerant of such things.
The strip also contains an existential twist, as shown in the child's answer. It alludes to every generation's dismissal of the next, as actually being due to psychological insecurities. We may disguise our dismissals by attacking their faults & different lifestyles. But in truth, these dismissals are actually rooted in our innate fear of becoming obsolete, useless, surpassed, and lost in a bewildering world that has passed us by.
- [Ponytail and Science Girl are walking together.]
- Ponytail: I can't imagine anyone who grew up on the Internet being able to run for President.
- [Closeup of Science Girl.]
- Science Girl: Why? Because it'd mark the handover of a world that no longer needs you to a generation you don't understand?
- [Ponytail and Science Girl have stopped walking and are facing each other.]
- Science Girl: ...Or because there would be embarrassing pictures of us as teenagers?
- [Closeup of Ponytail.]
- Ponytail: Um. The pictures one?
- Science Girl (off-screen): Pictures of teens! How will we even survive??
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I believe Curly is Buns from Old Timers, the girl who was born on the web. the-talk
18.104.22.168 12:28, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
- One is "buns" in the transcript and the other is "Curly"... interesting... --Jeff (talk) 16:19, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
The main joke in my oppinion is that the child correctly phrases the fact that every generation faces the "problem" that the next generation suddenly are adults too and runs the world. It is very embarrassing for pony tail. This is not discussed yet in the explain. Kynde (talk) 17:17, 19 May 2014 (UTC)^
Perhaps 137: Dreams is related to this one? --Alu42 (talk) 17:50, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
I think the title text is overly optimistic. It's not that we're *all* going to be pouring over the rambling blog posts of a teenager: It's that the news media will. And if they have an axe to grind they will create meaning that suits their agenda where there is none.
- Better rambling blogs than Snapchats, methinks. 22.214.171.124 04:34, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
- Yeah, the "axe to grind" basically sums up the problem with that reasoning. Yes, most people won't bother trying to go through decades of blogs and snapchats... only certain people with a keen interest in bringing you down (or enough money to pay someone else to do it) will. And once those people have cherry-picked a handful of bad examples from your life, they can display it as if it's the real truth about you. And everyone else will just take their word for it, because, well, who wants to bother combing through decades of blogs and snapchats to get a sense of the real you?--Druid816 (talk) 04:44, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
The first wave of the internet generation will still be at a disadvantage. As early adopters, they will be competing with late adopters who won't have a record of their youthful indiscretions. This will make the internet generation appear more irresponsible by comparison, and likely result in them having worse chances to get positions of power, like the presidency. --126.96.36.199 22:37, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
- They will be (presumably) at least 40 when they seek higher political office (For example, President of the Incorporated Territory of the Former United States and Junior Representative to the People's Congress of Greater China). Half the electorate will be even younger than them and will have had similar youthful indiscretions, so they won't really care. -- 188.8.131.52 06:37, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
- Not quite, as the percentage of younger voters who actively participate in politics (specifically through voting) is significantly less than those of older age groups, who also tend to be more partisan in their ideology. Therefore, one can expect that the older portion of the political world wouldn't make any kind of warm welcome to candidates from the first wave of the internet generation. 184.108.40.206 03:48, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Explaining something to children (or vice versa like here) is a common feature in the comic. Recently is was 1364: Like I'm Five where there is no actual children in the comic and also this year we had 1352: Cosmologist on a Tire Swing. I was thinking if there was need for a Category: Children? Any thoughts? --Kynde (talk) 12:27, 21 May 2014 (UTC)