2277: Business Greetings

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Business Greetings
We have email and social media now, so we probably don't need to keep exchanging business cards by pressing them gently against each others' faces with an open palm and smearing them around.
Title text: We have email and social media now, so we probably don't need to keep exchanging business cards by pressing them gently against each others' faces with an open palm and smearing them around.


This comic is the third comic in a row in a series of comics about the 2020 pandemic of the coronavirus - SARS-CoV-2. With this comic also on that topic, all comics of that week were about the virus outbreak. But this continued for many more weeks!

As a reaction to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, people are refraining from personal contact. This leads to changes with customs in the workplace, such as shaking hands at the beginning of a meeting.

The comic shows Beret Guy addressing his employees at his eccentric company (Ponytail, Hairy and Hairbun, see also 1997: Business Update). He states that although they should not overreact to the coronavirus, they should at least stop their custom of beginning meetings by "licking each others' eyeballs". Virus or not, it is not common for people to lick anyone's eyeballs at meetings [citation needed], but it could be an extreme stretch of intimate behavior to make an analogy to some cultures' norm of kissing acquaintances in greeting.

Humorously, his employees state that they will miss this human contact, but that they at least understand.

Contact between saliva and eyes are a very common way to spread the virus. However, this usually occurs from one infected person sneezing and airborne particles randomly coming in contact with an uninfected bystander's eye, or people touching their own faces and eyes after having touched an infected surface, not by applying the saliva directly to a person's eyeball by means of another person's tongue.

The title text refers to an actual business custom (exchanging business cards), but one which is absurdly altered to promote the spread of disease by touching cards and hands to faces. It is not clear whether this is safer or more dangerous than Beret Guy's previous practice of eating business cards, see 1032: Networking.


[Beret Guy is standing to the left addressing Ponytail, Hairy and Hairbun sitting in office chairs at a table. Hairbun is at the end of the table. All three have one arm on the table.]
Beret Guy: I don't think we should overreact to the coronavirus,
Beret Guy: But it might be time to put an end to the custom of starting business meetings by everyone licking each others' eyeballs.
Hairy: I'll miss the human contact, but that's fair.
Hairbun: Gotta change with the times.


  • When the comic was first published, it did not have a title-text; it was added later during the day of release.
    • This has almost exclusively occurred previously with special interactive or dynamic comics.
  • The phrase "each other" is actually singular. It should be "each other's eyeballs" (the eyeballs of each other person) and "each other's face" (the face of each other person).

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This comic appears to be the only one, ever, that doesn't have mouseover text 05:15, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

Maybe our mice are just broken. Purely coincidental, I'm sure. SDSpivey (talk) 05:49, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Or it is a change, to go with the time... --Lupo (talk) 08:07, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Technically 404 doesn't have an alt-text either. 09:42, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
I believe I've seen this before, where a comic _temporarily_ doesn't have title text. It may show itself yet. 11:49, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Maybe Randall posted it really late, staggered into bed, and will post the alt-text in the morning. I saw text but it was just the comic title. 07:51, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
It is common for dynamic comics to have no title text - see Category:No title text. But it is a first for a standard comic. So interesting to see if it shows up later, or if this will be an outlier. --Kynde (talk) 12:15, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
It has title text now: "We have email and social media now, so we probably don't need to keep exchanging business cards by pressing them gently against each others' faces with an open palm and smearing them around."

And, in case you were wondering, yes, eyeball licking is a thing Sysin (talk) 08:22, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

According to Snopes the story about Japanese eye licking is not true. I've removed it from the explanation for now. If my information turns out to be false, feel free to add it back in. Bischoff (talk) 11:16, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
I am surprised that people are not reporting experiences of eyeball licking. Seemed a natural thing to try for me when learning romantic behaviors, comparable to ears and other new behaviors with trusted cool people of gender of interest. 15:42, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
Even though the Japanese eyeball licking isn't true, the urban legend around it is surely what inspired Randall's choice of physical contact to use for this comic, so I think it's still worth a mention in the explanation (with appropriate caveat that it's not a real thing). -- KarMann (talk) 22:04, 9 March 2020 (UTC)
Is it a common urban legend though? Maybe in the US or parts of the internet? I've never heard of it before it was mentioned here in the explanation Bischoff (talk) 08:20, 11 March 2020 (UTC)
277,000 results from Google search for "eyeball licking japan", almost half the results for "eyeball licking", FWIW. ETA: And, again, certainly common enough that Randall would likely have heard of it. And it would be quite a coincidence for Randall to have come up with the same specific way of sharing germs independently. -- KarMann (talk) 10:22, 12 March 2020 (UTC)

There is a public health campaign "Healthy or Sick, Please don't Lick". It's talking about gluing envelopes shut. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/whether-healthy-or-sick-please-dont-lick-washington-state-urges-voters-to-avoid-licking-the-envelopes-of-mail-in-ballots-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/articleshow/74498738.cms 03:43, 10 March 2020 (UTC) DragonSister

It's possible that mouse over / touch operation is seen as another form of physical contact, that goes along the comic. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think he just forgot it. Maybe he is down with the coronavirus ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:15, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

I don't think we should overdo it with the "citation needed" joke or it will become dull. One instance in such a short explanation is definitely enough. Bischoff (talk) 11:22, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

It should not be used when no citation is needed! I remove them often --Kynde (talk) 12:15, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
No, the whole joke is that we're asking for citations for something super obvious. I agree more than one would be overkill here though. 16:00, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Kynde, that has been you? Please PLEASE stop removing them! I haven't seen one in ages, and they ALWAYS amuse me. I know I'm not alone. I know some people who feel that they've been done to death, but some of us still find them funny. :) You DO realize that if people are putting several that maybe it's just hoping you'll miss one? After all, it should be completely obvious that more than one (in ONE article) would be overkill... [citation needed] NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:45, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
They completely ruin the reading of a serious explanation[citation needed] because people think it is funny they know the citation needed short cut. --Kynde (talk) 23:21, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
No, they do not ruin the reading, they're easy enough to skip past (besides being almost always at the end of a sentence anyway). It gets written in superscript, small and higher up. And this place isn't THAT serious, it's a site for explaining a comic that tends to contain humour. What matters here is that the comic is explained as accurately as we can, such minor jokes don't get in the way of that. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:57, 14 March 2020 (UTC)

I thought this comic was referring to hand-shaking, which is effectively licking one another's eyeballs, as much as we humans touch our own eyes & mouths. TPS (talk) 12:19, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

There is a meme (by Corona-is-hoax promoters and Communists-did-it-on-purpose proclaimers, mostly, so treat it with a pinch of salt rather than antivjral handwash) that doorknob-licking is a thing. Usually as a fabled method of infecting the doorknobs (by manchurin super-spreaders?) rather than getting infected from them (that's just what happens next from knob-to-hand-to-face contact). There are all kinds of wierdos though - by which I mean primarily the false-memers. 15:01, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
And I though that the blinking reflex makes actually touching the eyeball almost impossible. Like, unless you hold the eyelid with other hand at least. -- Hkmaly (talk) 01:20, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
Or, if you use contact lenses regularly for long enough, you can suppress it (yes, I can reach up and touch my eyeball without holding my lids open with my other hand; I generally *don't* even with a contact there except when putting them in or taking them out, but I *can*).--Draco18s (talk) 03:18, 9 March 2020 (UTC)

For someone who is significantly introverted, might the act of shaking hands be nearly as weird and repugnant as eyeball licking would seem to most people? Schnitz (talk) 19:51, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

Pretty sure that unless there's some cultural thing at play, finding the concept of shaking hands to be repugnant would indicate some form of mental disorder. Being reticent to shake hands due to avoiding human interaction is different from finding it disgusting. -- 21:39, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Please don't associate being repudiated by social contact with mental disorders on a forum for a comic designed for the severely introverted. It hurts to infer that you think any of us with that attribute may be crazy. Randall's comics mostly touch on experiences only severely introverted technologists would understand. Shaking hands, eye contact, empathizing with people -- these are all things engineers share awkwardness around. For many it is extreme. 15:42, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
You mean like autism? You say "some form of mental disorder" as if everyone diagnosed with mental disorder would be put to asylum, while about 10% of kids are diagnosed with ADHD. -- Hkmaly (talk) 01:20, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
Mild ADD/ADHD is more of a disorder in my culture and perhaps most modern cultures than in other circumstances and I believe representative of a tendency to put problems on an individual rather than on systemic choices. 03:20, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
Reminds me of the comic about eating spiders / lobsters. :) An effective way to communicate how you feel. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:45, 7 March 2020 (UTC)

Okay, seeing as this is the first Citation Needed joke I've seen in a LONG time, could the prudes who like to remove them PLEASE leave this one alone???? I find it's a particularly good one. Just because the gag has gotten stale for you doesn't mean there aren't those of us who still like them. :) [citation needed] NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:45, 7 March 2020 (UTC)

They completely ruin the reading of a serious explanation because people think it is funny they know the citation needed short cut. --Kynde (talk) 23:21, 7 March 2020 (UTC)
They do not. There are no purely serious explanations on this entire wiki. The link is a joke in and of itself, joking about how something obvious doesn't actually need a citation. It is used to liven up a dry explanation. Sometimes the joke works, and sometimes it doesn't, but that shouldn't be decided by a single user. And it definitely should not be removed in every usage, as the tag exists for a reason: the community likes the in-joke.
If you feel a particular use of the joke doesn't fit, talk about it on the talk page. Please don't just remove it on your own, or continue arguing that it shouldn't be used at all. Trlkly (talk) 12:29, 9 March 2020 (UTC)
The statement for which Kynde removed the tag was "[...]an analogy to some cultures' norm of kissing acquaintances in greeting." - In this case, I think the CN-Tag was not as funny, as it is not something obvious like "the sun is very hot", but to an interpretation. In general I am a big fan of the joke: As long as it fits.--Lupo (talk) 13:01, 9 March 2020 (UTC)
I love the gag, but I do think it's a bit too easy to overuse it, or use it in places where it isn't as effective. I feel that it's one of things that shouldn't be forced; it should fit naturally into the explanation, or not be used at all. Hawthorn (talk) 13:10, 9 March 2020 (UTC)
I have nothing against removing ones that are reaching (like that one), or when there's multiple ones in a single article (I'd say "when it's used excessively", but the people I'm speaking to think AT ALL is excessively, LOL!). I'm just saying there are people who remove ALL of them, even when they're good. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:12, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
Frankly, I also think it's no longer funny. And the fact that you haven't seen one in a LONG time may be because other editors are removing them when they're inserted ad nauseum. If editors insist on putting them to a discussion vote, I'm going to vote against them every time. (If I tell my spouse the same joke time and time again, very quickly she gets tired of hearing it and tells me flatly.) Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 19:28, 9 March 2020 (UTC)
Not "maybe", I'm convinced that there are some editors - like apparently Kynde - who remove all of them, no matter how funny it is. I'm also convinced that this "Remove all" mentality has led to the overuse, to try to slip one past the goalie, as it were. Sure, there are some people like you who get annoyed by joke repetition, but usually it's by TRUE repetition, like a kid telling the same Knock Knock joke 100 times. This isn't like that, the changing context keeps it fresher than that. And many people - I'd estimate most - find a certain comfort and enjoyment in repetition and predictability in humour. Specific examples may change (like I enjoy this one, you may enjoy seeing a pie in the face every time you see it), but lots of people enjoy some comedic repetition. Nobody is asking you and Kynde and likeminded people to start enjoying it. We're asking you all to recognize that it's harmless and there ARE those of us who still enjoy it. Leave them for our benefit. Maybe even leave removing them to those of us who enjoy the gag, let us filter out the extras and the lame ones. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:12, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
Since Randall himself uses the same device in his books I don't think it is unreasonable to leave some of them here...

Remote work[edit]

I'd like to add information about remote work, work-from-home, telecommuting, and similar proposals motivating the situation. I haven't thought about exactly what I want to say, but I have some ideas. I'm interested in looking for ways that virologists might work from home for example. I think I'll start with the good, the middling, the hopeful, the fine, the mediocre, the above average, and the interesting but questionable. Developing.... 03:50, 8 March 2020 (UTC)

Well, if you took home a DNA sequencer/printer (or RNA, of course), I imagine a virologist could easily do at least some practical work remotely with an appropriate electronic transfer of data. Though I'm not sure we're ready for people able to 'print out' actual(/potential) viral code in their own homes! 20:44, 8 March 2020 (UTC)
Specially virologists should work the other way around: They would be home, the viri would be in remote isolated laboratory and all work on them done by remotely controlled robotic hands. -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:26, 9 March 2020 (UTC)