Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Beret Guy is showing Megan one of his daily activities: Building a leaf boat and throwing rocks at it. He acknowledges that the hobby is useless, but relaxing. In contrast, Megan contemplates one of her own daily activities: reading online comments on news articles. Realizing that it is an equally pointless, but presumably much less relaxing activity, she joins Beret Guy in throwing rocks at his leaf boat.
It is an unfortunate property of news articles that their comments become dominated by those which are deliberately offensive or devolve into flame wars. An additional metaphor may compare the article to the leaf boat while comparing the thrown stones to the flaming comments, essentially taking this most likely carefully constructed, fragile and perhaps beautiful creation (article or leaf boat) and lobbing offenses (comments or thrown stones) at it until it is dragged into the abyss (Internet "graveyard" or pond).
The title text makes it clear that they hit the leaf with a stone. The rest is a pun on the name of the 11th century Viking explorer Leif Erikson, who is believed to have been the first European to discover and settle North America which he named "Vinland".
- [Beret Guy is throwing a rock in the water while talking to Megan who walks down to him.]
- Beret Guy: Every day I make a little leaf boat, then throw rocks until it sinks or floats away.
- [Rock lands in water, near a leaf boat.]
- Rock: Plunk
- Beret Guy: It's pointless, but at least it's relaxing.
- [Megan and Beret Guy are both holding rocks. Megan looks down at her rock.]
- Megan: Every day, I read the comments on a news article.
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- [The two throw their rocks.]
Current explanation says the rock in the second panel is seen "possibly sinking the boat." Whoever typed this apparently didn't notice the undisturbed leaf boat, floating approximately 2 feet away from the splash. - 18.104.22.168 04:38, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
My boat sunk! THANKS, OBAMA! - 22.214.171.124 05:32, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- SURE... BLAME OBAMA WHEN IT WAS BUSH WHO STARTED IT. (Sorry! Couldn't resist.) 126.96.36.199 11:15, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- Heh. Thanks. That started the day with a laugh. 188.8.131.52 16:48, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Did we already know both Beret Guy and Megan are left handed? Wrybred (talk) 12:20, 23 June 2014 (UTC)wrybred
- They could be ambidextrous. Seriously I suspect that was easier to draw with them facing that way. And them facing the other way is just wrong.Halfhat (talk) 18:14, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- I agree with halfhat - it is a tool to give the drawing the correct flow. They need to throw that way for the story to progress in the reading direction. And then it is easier to throw that way. Also remember that although we think of Megan as one person, this does not apply to Randal! Megan is just a stand-in for any girl (as are Cueball for any guy). Not so sure about Beret Guy though... I think it is a nice observation by the way. I did not see that. But to say that they are always left handed is not correct. Kynde (talk) 19:33, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- I don't know about you, but when I look at the image it could go either way in terms of which hand they are using. They are stick figures so you can't see shoulders, chests, or backs. 184.108.40.206 23:19, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
- No, it's pretty clear from the angle of the water's edge which way round we're looking. For those to be right hands, Megan and Beret Guy would have to be standing at a very strange angle to the water. Also the swoosh from Megan's stone goes behind her head.--220.127.116.11 04:22, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
Vinland != America
- "Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by Norse Vikings..." per Wikipedia. (Providing actual info rather than just yelling "NO!" is always more helpful. But I'll take your comment (and you posting it anonymously) was intended as being in the spirit of the comments Randall's poking fun at.) 18.104.22.168 16:52, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Since "Leaf" Ericson is a pun on Leif, I think Vinland is a pun for Finland, but with the prefix "Vin" from "Vine". All of these puns make sense since the boat is made from a leaf. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Try reading the wikipedia entry for Vinland. That makes a lot more sense. 126.96.36.199 15:18, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Is it just me or does this sound a lot like the game discordian game "Sink"? 188.8.131.52 15:15, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
The explanation says Megan's comment is in contrast, I felt it was more of a comparison or a parallel. News articles go away once they're a week old in some places, various comments could be seen as thrown rocks or stones. Am I the only one who read it this way? 184.108.40.206 15:27, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- I really feel that it would be more in line with my interpretation if the "In contrast, " was simply removed... I don't think it's in contrast to anything. She contemplates, then decides to join in. As for the metaphor of thrown stones, I'm not sure I really see it, except possibly as a meta-meta-reference... (if such a thing is a thing?) -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:47, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
- Come to think of it, I agree - it's a little loose, 'cuz while Beret Guy is throwing stones at the boat himself, Megan is just reading the comments (stones) that eventually sink the article (boat), but I see a metaphor, for sure! Brettpeirce (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Happy Leif Erikson day, everyone! Jinga-hinga-durga! 220.127.116.11 17:15, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
- 141.101, wɘnt to gɘt morɘ giant papEr. Uhhhh... MᴙGamɘZonɘ 18:19, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Every day, I read the discussion on an explainxkcd page ;) 18.104.22.168 14:26, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Ha! Great pun in the title text, though he could have had another had he said "Vineland". Jevicci (talk) 15:12, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Somewhat off-topic, but for me, by definition a rock is something too big to throw (or throw easily). They must be throwing stones. (Or pebbles, but the objects look too large for that.) Is this one of those national/regional vocabulary things?--22.214.171.124 04:26, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
If a rock is something too big to throw (then likely or nearly too heavy to carry) how could one then have a rock collection? 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Any chance the title text is a reference to "you will not go to space today" from Up-Goer Five? Orazor
) 09:37, 9 October 2014 (UTC)