Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1410 xkcd comics, and only 42 (3%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Ugh, today's kids are forgetting the old-fashioned art of absentmindedly reading the same half-page of a book over and over and then letting your attention wander and picking up another book.
Title text: Ugh, today's kids are forgetting the old-fashioned art of absentmindedly reading the same half-page of a book over and over and then letting your attention wander and picking up another book.


Cueball is seen at his desk in front of four devices. He has clearly run out of things to do, or is looking for an excuse to procrastinate. A flowchart describes the process by which he scans the whole environment for something to do, which everyone can relate to.

The comic uses electronics likely because they are the common timekiller these days, and are most likely to contain fresh, tantalizing entertainment. News sites can be viewed as a good source of yet-to-be-seen content. Yet the search yields no interesting content, or the results don't garner enough attention, thus the blank stares and moving on to next device in line. Cueball has four devices, so he can begin with the PC and move through the loop three times - first to laptop, then tablet and finally to smartphone. What happens after this... Back to the PC maybe?

The title text notes that this also happened before there were electronic devices like today, assuming most entertainment came from books. The point made is that, while the Internet and modern electronic devices are often blamed for jeopardizing the minds of adolescents, the attention span of “the kids” is not worse than it ever was, neither in the context of low-tech nor high-tech media. Kids focus on some things for a long time, but they do change this focus often very abruptly. But nevertheless there are still many kids reading books today until the end.


[Cueball sits at a desk, accompanied by numerous electronics - a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone.]
[A cyclical flowchart is shown above Cueball:]
stare blankly at screen -> open news site -> start reading -> get bored -> absentmindedly check smaller device -> stare blankly at screen -> …

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.


Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to — and helping everyone better understand — xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?