Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2291 xkcd comics,
and only 29
(1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!
Go to this comic explanation
Title text: I'm going to change the sign so the pole is horizontal and the sign is mounted on the front like a plunger, so I can carry it around like a lance to gently push people back if they try to approach.
|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a HOMEMADE MASK. Should include refs on why masks are good or bad. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
This comic is the 15th comic in a row (not counting the April Fools' comic) in a series of comics related to the 2020 pandemic of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
In this comic, Cueball wonders if Megan's homemade mask will be of any use, because he has seen many different points of view and is unsure which one is correct. It is generally agreed that homemade masks will not block particles (including droplets which carry viruses) as effectively as officially-tested N95-class masks or surgical masks, and possibly confer no benefit at all; however, wearing a homemade mask may reduce contagiousness if the wearer is infected, by blocking droplets from being expelled. It may also make the wearer less likely to touch his or her face (which is a major vector for catching COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces). On the other hand, there are concerns that it may confer a false sense of security, leading to unsafe behaviors, and that the warm, moist environment produced by the wearer's breath may also harbor incoming viruses, which may later infect the wearer if the mask is not washed frequently.
Megan replies that she originally carried a sign warning people to keep their distance, but people needed to get close to her to read it, making it counterproductive. The implication is that Megan's primary purpose in wearing the mask is to signal to other people that's she's concerned about spreading COVID-19, and remind them to keep their distance. Whether or not the mask has any direct benefits in blocking virus transmission, Megan apparently feels that the social impact of seeing someone in a face mask is likely to change behaviors, making transmission less likely.
The title text indicates an alternate method, where Megan could change the sign into a device for pushing people back in order to maintain distance. Holding the sign out in front of her (instead of over her head) would also let people get close to the sign to read it, without getting in her face.
- [Cueball stands at a distance from Megan, who is wearing a face mask]
- Cueball: Homemade mask, huh? You think they help?
- Cueball: I've read so many conflicting things.
- [Flashback to when Megan was not wearing a mask but carrying a large sign, with Cueball and Ponytail approaching her from both sides. It is not possible to read what is on the sign. Masked Megan is pictured in an inset panel.]
- Megan (narrating): Well, what I was doing before was carrying around a big sign that said "There's a pandemic so please give me space because I don't want to get sick or make anyone else sick!"
- [Same as first panel]
- Megan: The problem was, I had to write small to fit, so people kept walking closer to read it.
- Cueball: Oops.
- Megan: Yeah, the mask gets it across better.
- Cueball has previously encountered signs that are so interesting that they lead people into peril in 356: Nerd Sniping, although in that comic strip, Black Hat was specifically designing his signs with the intent to cause harm.
Is this out of date? .
Lots of people
contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined
. You can do it too! Create your account here
You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.
- There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
- We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.
Don't be a jerk.
There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.
If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.