This comic encourages the reader to post random news stories on the Internet, under the line "It begins." This creates a sense of impending doom, as well as making people wonder what, exactly, is being referred to. This could also encourage people to theorize about what, exactly, is beginning. It could also just confuse the intended audience, as they try to comprehend what the author is saying.
This could in the worst case speedily lead to several people making repost of such a non-news story that would not have gotten any attention otherwise. This may lead to speculation, and other curious theories, going out the tangent it could create fear or mass hysteria.
Some stories that might benefit especially from this are those relating to machine autonomy, animal attacks, disease, and so forth. This would call to mind various popular culture and/or scientific hypothetical scenarios.
Perhaps the comic's choice of article refers to Alfred Hitchcock's thriller The Birds, in which birds (especially seagulls) begin attacking humans for no apparent reason, or the broader idea of an animal revolution, or just that even animals get sick of us always looking at our smart phones.
The title text instructs readers to try the line "Yikes" instead. The idea is the same but would give a completely different response.
Other comics which advocate using catch-all phrases as standard responses for any comment:
- [A post in Megan's news feed on some social network platform is shown. Megan's head-shot profile image is shown in a frame to the left with two lines of unreadable text below. Her comment is to the right of this image, also with unreadable text above both in a black and gray font. This comment is above the news story she has posted below in a frame. Inside the frame there is another smaller frame to the left with a picture of Cueball on a beach, holding his hand out towards a seagull that flies away with his phone. Two other seagulls can be seen in the air above the sea. There is a small heading at the top, and then a larger one below this. Below that again there is two lines of unreadable text:]
- It Begins
- Local News
- Seagull Steals Phone, Drops it in Ocean
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Protip: To make your day more dramatic, post a random minor news story with the comment "it begins."
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- Oscar apologizes!
Did it work? :-) --Kynde (talk) 08:50, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
- This brings the question how often would comment "It Begins" be labeled as offensive, for example racist or something ... and, unfortunately, that already begun years ago. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:48, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
It has been quite a while since the last Protip, except for the pyramid pro tip in 1608: Hoverboard, it is almost 100 comics since the last real protip comic: 1565: Back Seat. --Kynde (talk) 09:08, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
This makes me think of the beginning of The Birds. I do not know if it is intended. -- InviPinkUnicorn (talk) 11:44, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
- I think it unmistakably is a reference to the Hitchcock film, especially given the specific choice of seagulls. I changed the explanation, but left the other possibilities in. Miamiclay (talk) 22:03, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
The bird's behavior is pretty normal, gulls break clam shells and such by dropping them on to the beach. Maybe it was a clam shell phone? 18.104.22.168 15:21, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
In my opinion the explanation is missing one important use of "It begins": fearmongering. I follow a far-right website just to keep oriented (and sometimes entertained) about far-right political views, and the guy who runs the site typically runs at least one story a week with the title starting with "It begins:". Some examples: "It Begins… Obama Plays Race Card Against Trump – Attacks White Working Class", "It Begins… Obama’s HUD Launches Civil Rights Investigation on IL Town for Not Building Public Housing", "It Begins… Democrat Lawmaker Proposes $100 Tax on Every Gun", "It Begins… Outraged Flea Market Shopper Calls Cops Over Confederate Memorabilia", etc. etc. --RenniePet (talk) 20:12, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
- Missing reference?
The "in bed" meme, as detailed in 425:_Fortune_Cookies 22.214.171.124 21:55, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
Ryan says open GOP convention 'more likely' --126.96.36.199 21:19, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Can someone explain "Yikes" for a non-native english speaker? --188.8.131.52 03:01, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
1. To the above: "Yikes" is typically said in response to something scary, but not when the speaker is actually scared. It wouldn't be as strange as "It begins" for the news story in the comic, but might still be a bit excessive for such a minor thing.
2. A line from the article: "animals get sick of us always looking at our pokédexs." It was originally smart phones, but is the change meant to be or just vandalism? Sorry if this seems like a stupid question; I've never used the wiki before. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- People have created text substitution browser plugins that also replace text within text fields, inspired by comics like 1288. As a resource for xkcd fans, we experience a large amount of accidental vandalism due to these browser plugins. Davidy²²[talk] 09:28, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps there is a reference here to clickbait ads, like those on Facebook that show a picture of a celebrity (like The Rock), with captions like "He is gone" or "He will be missed", seemingly to imply that he has recently died. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:06, 20 March 2016 (UTC)