Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic is a joke about the hyperbolic expression shut it down being taken literally. If someone thinks that a device has achieved its goal they shut it down. After an idea or product that people think is well made is created people will joke that the process that created it should be shut down, as if the process has achieved its ultimate purpose. This is most often used sarcastically for an inferior product or idea. Taking things literally is a common theme in the xkcd comics.
Curly-hair sits at a computer anxiously and nervously writing a message to someone she cares about deeply, possibly a child to be adopted or a romantic interest. Curly-hair plans on saving enough money to have the person flown to her location from "half a world away." Curly-hair ends the message with a promise to communicate daily until the two are able to meet. When attempting to send the message, however, Curly-hair discovers that their internet connection is down and the message goes unsent.
Ponytail explains there was a "ridiculous video" to which someone had commented "That's it. Shut down the Internet. We're done." This was taken literally and, because enough people agreed with this comment, the internet was shut down and Curly-hair was left unable to communicate with her love.
The joke being that the internet was creating something far more valuable between Curly-hair and her love than a ridiculous video, thus highlighting the beautiful and far reaching potential impact of the internet. The likelihood of the entire internet being shut down based on a single comment being vanishingly low adds to the humor.
In the final panel Curly-hair states wistfully that she was not done with the internet. The title text is Ponytail's response, which asserts Ponytail's belief that Curly-hair's message could not be important because the Facebook comment asserted that nothing of any significance could come from the internet after the ridiculous video.
- Writer (typing): I had started to think I was asking too much, that I needed to settle. And then I found you half a world away.
- Writer (typing): I've been saving money. Six months from now, I'll be able to fly you here and support us for a while.
- Writer (typing): It's a long wait, but we'll talk every day until then. Maybe this won't work out, but I want to try. What do you think?
- Computer: ERROR: Your message could not be sent.
- Computer: ERROR: No connection.
- Writer: ??
- Writer: Why can't I connect?
- Ponytail: Someone saw a ridiculous video and said "That's it. Shut down the Internet. We're done." So they did.
- Writer: ...But... I wasn't done.
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To be honest, I have never really heard anyone say a phrase like that or other phrases with similar implications, it would be nice if someone could show real-world examples where the phrases are used 220.127.116.11 10:29, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
- I have never seen this either. I can see it being a meme, but a rhetorical device?! I think that's a stretch. Smperron (talk) 15:45, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
- Maybe they knew the video was ridiculous and shut it down because of inappropriate media or something? Jacky720 (talk) 23:00, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
- I may have used the wrong term, what Ieant was like when someone gives up on something, others may say that "they said they were done" when they actually didn't say anything... I could be wildly off base though. Official.xian (talk) 05:28, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
How do we know the girl is in the United States?? 18.104.22.168 08:54, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
Is it a girl? I was thinking the hair is a bit like mick Jaggers... - Palitu 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- The country is not spoken to in the comic and therefore should be left out, regardless of where people think it is placed. 126.96.36.199 22:25, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
- I think it's a girl, and I think she's in the United States, as xkcd is a US-based comic, and pony-tail is a recurring figure also presumably in the United States. And I think it's all rather sad. Note that she's kneeling on her chair, not sitting - this is more common for girls than guys. My take is that she's the kind of person who can enter into a fantasy relationship with a person she doesn't really know, and then if/when they do ever meet in real life it will all break down because her fantasy is only that, and the real person will not match her expectations at all. --RenniePet (talk) 09:37, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- I look at that she was incredibly lucky - it's a classic internet relationship scam. Maybe I'm just a cynic. There's also the phrase "Done Over", although I think it's a British idiom, so I highly doubt it was meant as a double entendre. Oobayly (talk)
- Yeah, note that she's going to be saving up money for six months, thus that'll likely be a sizeable sum. And the person that she "connected" with is a half a world away, always a bad sign as no real evidence of identity is truly possible at that distance, and as an internet user, likely in the us, half a world away may well be a country where the reimbursed cost of a plane ticket is worth the work of fabricating & upkeeping a fake idealized relationship in order to get the eventual reward of that money. The cynic in me gives this a 50% chance that this is a classic scam. - Kzqai 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- So, do you extend that logic to assume that every "cueball" character must be "a girl" because you were "thinking the hair is a bit like [Sinéad O'Connor]s"? I'm curious... -- Brettpeirce (talk) 10:29, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
- Why is the sex relevant, although I believe it is a girl by hair and posture (comics use stereotypes to convey information with a few details. I do not think it changes the meaning of the comic. If it the gender is debated remove it. Although I do think that it is clear that the character is female. The emphases here on gender seems quite reveling. 184.108.40.206 22:25, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Consider this as a possible reference to Kim Kardashian's photo.. An effect of her trying to "break the internet" -KLee 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Identity of the writer?
- If the writer is based on a reoccurring character than it has to be either Megan or Danish. Is there a consensus as to who it is?18.104.22.168
- Isn't she Caroline, or 'curly buns'. Similar curly haired girl has appeared in similar roles on several pages but it seems her age isn't entirely set and instead fluctuates according to the call of a particular strip. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I don't think that anyone literally said "shut it down", I believe it was a rhetoric, at least that's how I read it. Official.xian (talk) 11:47, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
Oh yes. Forget that the economy would go to hell without Internet. Forget how much science is done using Internet. The real reason for Internet to exist is so you can get in love with someone on different continent. -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:44, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- I'm not so sure... it would seem it was primarily funny cat videos, the funniest possible of which was obviously posted, viewed, and judged as the final necessary use of the internet. It was thus agreed to shut it down, as there is really no need to continue with this charade variously coined as "commerce", "science", or other superfluous forms of so-called "communication" (that is the garbled blathering that is not funny cat pictures or videos), all depending of course on your preferred (but nonetheless obviously deluded) persuasion. This comic only serves to prove it. I am left wondering, though... how did Ponytail come to learn this? SMS? Phone Tree? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 13:55, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- Is there perhaps a meme going around where instead of "lol" you write "internetover" to say "this is so good/funny, i can now die happy" and the comic author was annoyed with that and made this where the start situation is silly and the end is even sillier? --126.96.36.199 14:10, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- that seems to be an almost angrily rhetorical question, supposing that I'm making a serious statement rather than a very very sarcastic one, so... you must be... new... here? Perhaps I didn't lay it on thick enough? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 10:23, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
This could be far more than a romantic involvement. She says she thought she was asking too much. But then she found... a like-minded individual, someone who can... notice the 'glitches in the matrix', as it were. Much more might have been lost here than a believed love. 188.8.131.52 14:13, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
It could mean the girl is in love or wants to adopt a child from a country like Iran, but before she can tell, the internet THERE is shut down by the government
(which happens all the time because of some youtube video or something). 184.108.40.206 14:18, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- She is speaking with a romantic interest. One doesn't "settle" to adopt a child. 220.127.116.11 18:20, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
- Or the writer may be in a country like Russia, China, or Turkey, where the internet is widely used but under constant threat of political censorship.18.104.22.168 14:54, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
So I am the only one who thought the girl was either the author of spam, or had a feasible contact whom she could fool into travelling to her country with promises of money, only to put them in the trap of being stuck there reliant on her? You hear the story all the time, someone is given hope, but as they arrive the passport is taken and to receive food+lodging (or in some cases they are locked inside a room) they are forced to perform dubious services with questionable morality 22.214.171.124and legality. 126.96.36.199 15:02, 1 December 2014 (UTC)Feha 127.0.0.1 (talk) 12:34, 5 June 2012 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yeah, I still don't get the title comment either. The author of this Facebook comment was responding to a video, and I see no evidence that this girl has been posting videos. So is it just coincidence that [Megan is saying that] the author also believes the girl is done? Nealmcb (talk) 16:19, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- No one is saying that the writer broke the internet or made the video, just that the video is the best thing the internet could ever produce, so everone is done with the internet. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
You guys are all missing the point (except for the "die happy" commenter). Sometimes, when watching such an impressive video, people say something along the lines of "the internet is over" to mean "that video was so impressive that no one will ever top it. We might as well shut down the internet." This comic takes that expression literally, and shuts down the internet in the middle of someone's important conversation. Diszy (talk) 18:08, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
- Seconded... -- Notso (talk) 11:07, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Does anybody else think this might be the same girl from 508: Drapes? 184.108.40.206 18:33, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
At first I thought it was a romance kinda thing, but it would also be an appropriate/situation in case of adoption. Maybe she found her reason to live in an orphan across the globe (I presume in a poor country). That she will be able to fly him/her here in six months she will be able to support the kid. This is also supposing that all paperwork will be finished in 6 months (which I think it's quite fast for adoption, but then again, we don't know how long they have been communicating for). 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
As the argument over the sex of the subject of this comic rages on (hyperbole), I remembered that when I checked xkcd.com on Lynx, there were transcripts of every comic. I looked again and it seems that it does not do this for new comics. Does anyone know who writes those transcripts? If, for example, next week the transcript on the official website refers to the character as a girl, could that be used as a source? Maplestrip (talk) 11:41, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Given that the Internet shutdown was spontaneous, and alternate communication/news sources probably hadn't been set up yet to the degree needed, how does the second character know what happened? Z (talk) 16:05, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
- Everyone agreed to shut down ith internet. There would be a time delay from the time the comment was posted and people agreed to shut it down, during this time the majority of internet users would find out. 18.104.22.168 22:25, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps the idiom isn't well known everywhere, but there's the phrase "Stick a fork in it, it's done!" that usually applies to something that is finished (positive) or broken beyond hope (negative). Mr. I (talk) 13:53, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I think the comments about "we're done" are off the mark. I took the situation to be an exasperated developer and maintainer of network resources saying "we created the internet to be an amazing tool for communication and development of high human endeavors, but it has degenerated into a trivial exercise in watching hokey clips about cute animals. That's it! We've had it! No more! Shut 'er down!" This ties in with #676 http://xkcd.com/676/ Taibhse (talk) 12:25, 6 December 2014 (UTC)
- I agree completely. I have never heard the expression used to describe shut it down because the job is done but I have heard this wording used repeatedly in conversation when referring to something they were exasperated with. Also, this interpretation of the above seems more likely since it is a fairly common comment/joke, where as this would be the first time I would have heard someone joke that the purpose of the internet was to get ridiculous videos. If she had said a cat video, my perspective would, of course, be different.--22.214.171.124 02:40, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
This comic made me sad :( 126.96.36.199 07:04, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I think the description completely misses the point. The key phrase in the dialogue is "Why can't I connect?". She is referring to her Internet connection, but what she should be asking herself is why she can't connect with people. Apparently, there is no one close to her she can connect with so she needs to look halfway around the world. The comic is mocking curly hair and painting her in a pathetic light. I'm still struggling to figure out what "Done" means. Maybe it means we should turn off the Internet so we connect with the people around us instead of chatting with strangers we've never met half way around the world. The Facebook comment in the title text might be supporting this. Stop commenting on random things on the Internet and talk to the people around you. 188.8.131.52 18:16, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
- And the irony is that I am making this comment to people half way around the world right now. :) 184.108.40.206 18:41, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
I, personally, have often seen the "The internet is done, shut it down." comments on humorous or clever posts on tumblr; that interpretation is what I got out of the comic, as the description says. 220.127.116.11 22:30, 27 December 2014 (UTC)