2457: After the Pandemic

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After the Pandemic
I'm looking forward to having to worry a lot less about covid, but wouldn't mind if we worried a little more about giving each other colds. Colds are bad!
Title text: I'm looking forward to having to worry a lot less about covid, but wouldn't mind if we worried a little more about giving each other colds. Colds are bad!


This comic is another in a series of comics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no hidden humor in this comic, it simply states an opinion. Randall is saying that he is looking forward to not having to wear a mask everywhere after the pandemic is over. Mask mandates were a common way various organizations reduced the spread of Covid-19. Now that the vaccines exist, people are assuming that these mask mandates will soon end, and in many jurisdictions they have already.

However, Randall hopes that people will continue to wear a mask when they are sick, as is common in many East Asian countries. This lets other people know the person may be sick, or trying to avoid becoming sick, so they can give the person extra distance. Wearing a mask reduces the spread of infectious droplets when one exhales or coughs, and reduces exposure to droplets from others. Both features help reduce the spread of communicable diseases. Also, Randall thinks other people coughing on him is gross, as do most people.

Masking when ill would help reduce influenza, tuberculosis and colds. The flu is a deadly disease that usually kills tens of thousands of people each year.

People with less common diseases, like tuberculosis, may be more likely to wear a mask if mask wearing becomes more common, so they don't feel as conspicuous. For less severe illnesses and less vulnerable populations xkcd's wish may not be such a good idea, as every cold - albeit unpleasant - constantly trains the immune system and keeps it alert.[1]

The title text continues this line of reasoning by saying Randall wants to worry less about COVID-19, but hopes people would worry more about colds. Colds are generally mild and might cause someone to spend a few days home sick from work or school. However, colds cost tens of billions of dollars annually in the US. Costs include the value of lost productivity at work or school, time spent caring for the sick, cost of doctor visits and medications. Inappropriate treatment of colds with antibiotics is common, and contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and clostridium difficile infections.[2].

Randall has made a specific corona comic targeted at colds before: 2306: Common Cold. And in 2015 he probably had a severe cold (or more than one) as he published these two comics 1612: Colds and 1618: Cold Medicine in December 2015.


Things I will not miss one bit after the Pandemic Things I hope stick around and become normalized
Wearing masks everywhere Wearing masks when you're feeling sick, because it's an easy way to tell people to give you space, and also getting coughed on is gross

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Other benefits of normalizing wearing masks: keeping warmer in the winter; protecting face from sun; reducing breathing of smoke and fine particulates; potentially reduce value of facial matching in face of ubiquitous surveillance. 18:04, 30 April 2021 (UTC)

Between our rapidly deteriorating air quality (check out how much of the dust we breathe is from plastic clothing fibers); ubiquitous tracking by an increasing number of increasingly untrusted groups (not that we can evade that with masks, only make it more error prone); & just the fact that we still interact with thousands who then interact with other thousands on a scale impossible only two centuries ago, making transmissible disease spread almost a certainty; ... I'd strongly prefer that everyone who can, wear a mask in any shared public space.
Awkward, uncomfortable, & socially inconvenient? Yes. Better than an endless procession of mid-level epidemics, & a population with initially minor but alarmingly widespread respiratory & cardiac issues which progressively worsen? (again, look at air quality since 1999) Also yes.
If we're entering a crowded space, please just wear the masks, people. Now & always.
Might as well get used to it, because within this generation, we're all going to need masks to breathe normally, anyway; & I'm not exaggerating even a little.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 19:25, 30 April 2021 (UTC)
Mask wearing was already super common in Asia before the pandemic because of this. I'm hoping it gets more common here in the US too Opalmagpie (talk) 20:53, 30 April 2021 (UTC)
If there is enough sun to be worth protecting from it, I don't need to protect face, I need to protect eyes. And I didn't find mask which doesn't fog sun glasses yet. Luckily, in the time of year with most respiratory infections sun glasses are not so necessary. -- Hkmaly (talk) 01:21, 2 May 2021 (UTC)

@Randall, we get it, you worry about COVID. Really, we get it.

Right? It's like the comedians who all went 99% political during the last few years: Even if I agree completely, it isn't as funny after the 24th time you make a joke about it.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 19:25, 30 April 2021 (UTC)
Good luck telling Randall what to do. I doubt he reads this website anyways. 01:30, 1 May 2021 (UTC)

Maybe another thing that will become common is self-quarantining when you're sick. You don't need to wear a mask if you don't go out. And now that we've learned that it's possible to work from home in many professions, you don't need to go into the office when you're contagious. Barmar (talk) 21:47, 30 April 2021 (UTC)

Bingo! Back when I was a kid, in the 70's, it was understood that when you're sick, you stay home and get rest. Today, everybody thinks it's just fine to take some over-the-counter pill to relieve the symptoms and go on with your life, which will slow your recovery and infect other people. Maybe now, we can get back to some common sense? Probably not, but one can hope. Shamino (talk) 12:32, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
I'm surprised it took a big epidemic for some people to realize that most professions can be done from home just as easily as from office. Only reason it's harder to work from beach is that most displays are hard to read in direct sun. -- Hkmaly (talk) 01:21, 2 May 2021 (UTC)

"[...] wear a mask when they are sick, as is common in many East Asian countries" - This true? Prior to the pandemic, E.Asian students (my most frequent contact with this ethnic group, who are not actual nth-generation habituated/assimilated and so never had the then vestigial mask-wearing tendency) could be observed wearing masks around the nearby University city mostly in September, dropping off in frequency once they seemed to realise that the air was not anything as polluted as back home, not for fear of disease. Or so I gathered from what conversations I heard about it. (The most egregious example of this was witnessing an individual leaning against an alley-wall, mask shifted away from his mouth so he could 'safely' smoke... Avoiding the barely notable car-fumes in order to directly inhale death-stick fumes.) Now, I've not had enough post-outbreak experience of such imported attitudes to masks, but I still feel that those who are not openly sick of masks, in the open air, are probably wearing them regardless of personal illness. 02:03, 1 May 2021 (UTC)

"It's just they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future." 10:59, 2 May 2021 (UTC)

Enough with the COVID comics

I mean, seriously, if this is all XKCD has become, then it's time to move on. To help emphasize that point, I feel a new topic is in order.
Please post all your COVID-comic-hating comments here. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I agree, this is getting tedious and predictable - all of the things that XKCD never was. Randall is in danger of destroying his audience. A "cartoon" that's just a bunch of words saying something pretty obvious, and devoid of any hidden message, devoid of any humor - isn't a cartoon anymore. It's a crappified version of twitter with an upper-case only comic sans font. It's not a matter of "COVID-comic hating" - it's "Not-a-comic comic hating" SteveBaker (talk) 02:16, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
To be fair, the pandemic was/is a major part of our lives. I support covid-related comics if they're funny, which this one doesn't seem to be. However, let's give Randall the benefit of the doubt; maybe he just had an off day. Danish (talk) 03:05, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
To be even fairer, it's not the first time that XKCD has serious comics. The Hilary endorsement is an obvious example, but a lot of comics about cancer aren't meant to be funny. It was a way for Randall to cope with his personal life, and because his mind wasn't *able* to think about another subject at the time. Covid isn't (I hope) a personal issue like cancer was, but it's still a stressful problem. 12:09, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
As this is the biggest thing to hit the world since the end of WW2, and has lasted for more than a year, still causing major changed to our lives, and still being a big problem in some countries (India at present for instance), I see no problem in Randall continuing to make comics about it. If his comics are funny or unfunny can always be debated. But it is a serious issue with mask wearing, do it even help etc. And as said above my comic, Randall is not always making funny comics. Some serious comics are interspersed with jokes, like Earth Temperature Timeline, but the comic it self was not funny, but scary. Here he is giving us advice and letting us know what he thinks and hopes. Take it of leave it. And if this makes you stop following xkcd, then that is just your loss ;-) --Kynde (talk) 20:08, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
Comics don't have to be funny. XKCD is often educational or thought provoking (e.g. visualizing data like ocean depths, raising awareness of obscure topics, etc.) Of course entertaining as well helps.
I discovered the article on the cost of the common cold as a result of editing the explanation for this cartoon. Considering the huge impact colds have changed my views some. (I already figured masking for other reasons than Covid made sense, but this gave me more appreciation of the magnitude.)
Covid or not - keep them coming Randall. 21:10, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
Eh... I'm okay with these comics. To be fair, the recent comics have felt a little degraded compared to Randall's previous comics (especially when Randall's humor was more juvenile or experimental... Comics 1 to ~1700s had a LOT of soul :D). But that doesn't change the fact that Randall is still making comics I enjoy. These COVID comics are not inherently bad, and I disagree with the notion that he's destroying his audience... Though COVID is a year old by now. Talking about how much it sucks is a common occurrence, and I feel like a lot of the comics could have just gone on his blog. 01:31, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
...And he JUST uploaded a non-COVID comic! Not all of his comics nowadays are COVID-related! See? ... Okay, maybe, like, half of them are. But I don't see these comics as 'tedious', at least, not yet. If there are still regular COVID comics later this year (assuming the situation hasn't changed for the worse), I think my thoughts might be a little different. But I digress. 03:37, 4 May 2021 (UTC)