222: Small Talk
Title text: But surely I owe you an accurate answer!
Cueball is approached by his friend who offers the standard greeting of, "What's Up? How've you been?" In standard "small talk," an appropriate answer would be only one or two words (e.g. "Fine", "Pretty good"). These are generally positive responses, with negative ones only offered in extreme circumstances. In this situation, Cueball forgets that this type of answer is what his friend is expecting. Instead, he contemplates thoroughly on his condition, wanting to provide accurate, detailed information to his friend. His response sheds light on the many layers of meaning a simple question such as "What's up?" can have. His friend, thrown off by the delayed response, snaps to regain Cueball's attention and reminds him that they are having a conversation, which is best facilitated by the standard short responses.
The title text shows that Cueball was more interested in accuracy than the ease of the conversation, simply out of respect for his friend.
This was one of the earliest examples of problems with social interactions for Cueball (or Randall). Since this comic it has been a recurring theme on xkcd. It is especially similar to the much later 1961: Interaction.
- Sometimes I forget how to do small talk.
- Friend: Hey!
- Cueball: Hey, man!
- Friend: What's up? How've you been?
- Cueball: Well...
- [Three identical frames indicate time passes.]
- Friend snaps fingers
- Friend: Uh, you ok?
- Cueball: Yeah! It's just an interesting question. I'm trying to decide what best sums up my--
- Friend: Hey. Conversation.
- Cueball: Oh, right. I'm fine. You?
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