386: Duty Calls
Title text: What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!
Cueball, and many people everywhere, feel an irrepressible urge to correct people on the Internet, and often get intensely invested in arguments over mundane or insignificant topics. In this comic, Cueball is presented as an exaggerated example of one such arguer. His statement that "This is important" shows his excessive investment in whatever (unnamed) topic he is arguing about. Additionally, Cueball's interpretation of the argument as "someone is wrong, I need to correct them" rather than "someone disagrees with me, I should learn from them" parodies Internet arguers' insistence in the obvious, objective superiority of their viewpoint.
The title text reinforces this satire. The phrase "Duty Calls" used in the title is traditionally used in much more dramatic contexts (say, by a police officer, firefighter, doctor, etc. when talking about their job), so applying it to the job of arguing on the Internet is a humorous mismatch that puts Cueball's disproportionate investment into perspective. Cueball's exasperated, all-or-nothing retort "What do you want me to do? LEAVE?" in the alt text further highlights the absurd nature of his emotional investment in this argument. His reasoning that "they'll keep being wrong!" if he leaves suggests that the only solution he sees is to continue to argue until everyone on the Internet has agreed with him on all issues–a ridiculously impossible plan. By taking this satire to its logical conclusion–an eternity of arguing on the Internet with no time for pleasure in real life–Randall reminds the reader that getting emotionally involved in Internet arguments at the expense of real life is a terrible, terrible idea.
In 955: Neutrinos another incarnation of Cueball is cured of a similar disease. A much later comic is simply called 1731: Wrong, but here it is not the other people who are wrong! A callback to this comic was made in 2051: Bad Opinions.
- [Cueball is typing on a computer.]
- Voice outside frame: Are you coming to bed?
- Cueball: I can't. This is important.
- Voice: What?
- Cueball: Someone is WRONG on the Internet.
- This comic is available as a signed print in the xkcd store.
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