Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic follows a sample interaction, purportedly showing how to make friends. We see Cueball's strategy for making friends. It does incorporate various points of advice for building friendships, which are completely sound in the abstract. But it's clearly not helping him -- he's out of sync with the interaction context and makes bigger social gaffes by following the abstract advice. Escalating awkwardness ensues.
It starts out with a common way of making friends or interacting with friends, hanging out over a meal. However, Cueball suggests doing so with awkwardly literal phrasing; whereas most people use expressions such as “have lunch” or “grab a bite to eat”, Cueball explicitly invites Hairy to “eat food”. The fact that he feels the need to clarify that they’ll be eating food, as opposed to any other orally consumable items, indicates his lack of confidence to clearly communicate his intentions.
Before Hairy can even respond, Cueball then says that they could instead “sit together and talk without eating.” Although this is indeed another common way to make friends, it’s kind of an odd way to phrase it, especially since he didn’t even give Hairy a chance to reply to his initial suggestion. Cueball then says he doesn’t need to eat (meaning not right now, especially as a prerequisite to talking), but he immediately feels compelled to clarify that he does need to eat (meaning in general). Again, it’s weird that he clarified, as his original wording probably would have been understood. He then awkwardly remarks about how he can eat later if Hairy would rather just talk. The overall implication is that Cueball’s awkwardness and over-explanation would put off a typical person.
This is apparently a situation that Randall has encountered before, and he apologizes for trying to offer advice.
The title text says Cueball wants to be friends at Hairy, rather than with him, which isn’t how friendship usually works. “At” implies that Cueball considers being friends to be a unilateral action that he needs to direct towards Hairy, like “smiling at” or “pointing at”, and does not understand that it is typically a mutual activity of building a relationship, which would be indicated by being friends with him. “At” can even carry a degree of animosity (compare: “he just phoned up to wash his head at us”).
- [First panel with words, with the words in the center white and on a black oval background, which is in turn on the white background:]
- How to make friends
- [Second panel with Cueball and Hairy facing each other:]
- Cueball: Want to go eat food together?
- Cueball: We could also sit together and talk without eating. I don't need to eat. I mean, I do need to eat. But if you don't want to eat then we can just talk. I can eat later.
- [Third panel with words, same format as first panel:]
- It turns out I still haven't figured out how to do this.
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Please clarify: What are "friends"? 22.214.171.124 08:18, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
- A friend is what you should treat people as - i.e. as a friend in themself, not as a means to a friend.126.96.36.199 11:36, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
- D"Friends" are sacrificial humans you should always have with you while in the woods, in case of bear encounters.--188.8.131.52 13:08, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
- Or see Randall's take on this in his comic?: 1485: Friendship. :) --Kynde (talk) 22:00, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Randall has obviously not read Stu the Cockatoo is New at the Zoo. Pmakholm (talk) 08:36, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
hairy is a jerk and unworthy of cueball's friendship. --Misterstick (talk) 12:56, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
"Go eat food" might be an effect of the post-"Thing explainer" simple English addiction, already mentioned in some other strip. In fact, the rest of his speech also looks a bit like that.--184.108.40.206 17:30, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
- Yes, I also think this comic uses simple words. --220.127.116.11 09:36, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
If I had a Tumblr, I'd set this as my profile picture. But the stigma of being "the kind of person who whines about vwxyzir disability on Tumblr" is bad enough that I don't wanna go there. Promethean (talk) 05:28, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Seems like Randall likes to blame lonely people as being morally deficient and selfish... Must be easier than acknowledging the issues they face... 18.104.22.168 05:58, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
- Ummmm, REALLY sure that he's identifying HIMSELF as lonely, and feels it is HIS own fault. He's not attacking abstract strangers, he's belittling himself. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:04, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Current explanation says that he "feels compelled to clarify that he does need to eat (meaning in general)". No, not in general, he is specifying he needs food at the moment, that it is time for him to eat right now, seeing as he later clarifies that he can just eat after. (So, he's hungry, but not so much that he can't wait). Also, what's H2G2? NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:04, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
- The 'in general' interpretation seems more likely to me, and is certainly the way I read it. If he was just hungry but not that hungry, he probably wouldn't have used the word 'need'. And Randall seems like the sort of person who would feel the need to clarify, in case of confusion, that he is an organism that needs to consume food.22.214.171.124 16:45, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
- I felt the use of the word "need" was in reference to it being lunchtime (or dinnertime), that it's time to eat and as such he can and should, and should be figuring out what to do for a meal around now, but his hunger hasn't hit yet (or isn't that strong yet) so he can wait too. IDK, it's just that whenever Randall does one of these "I'm terribly socially awkward" comics that it really speaks to me, that we're very much the same in this regard. Maybe that leads to a greater ease in understanding what he means and where he's coming from. It certainly feels like it, like I have no problem fully understanding them with 100% certainty. As I said, the fact that he says he can just eat after confirms that he means it's time for him to eat now, but he's trying to be accommodating by saying he can just eat later. NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:52, 24 November 2017 (UTC)