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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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We have an explanation for all 1410 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Loop
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.

Explanation

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.

Transcript

[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 -> …

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