1048: Emotion

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Fortunately, the internet has a virtually inexhaustible supply of code that doesn't work and people who are wrong, which bodes well for a return to normalcy. [Note: Click to read context for the cancer comics. She's doing well.]
Title text: Fortunately, the internet has a virtually inexhaustible supply of code that doesn't work and people who are wrong, which bodes well for a return to normalcy. [Note: Click to read context for the cancer comics. She's doing well.]
In October my fiancée was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. [...] She’s been in nonstop treatment for the last eight months, which has been an emotional and physical ordeal that’s hard to describe. We both have all the support we could ask for—including an incredible medical team—and we’ve had some really good moments during these months, but it’s still a terrifying and isolating experience. Treatment is ongoing, and there’s no well-defined end point; things are going to continue to be scary and difficult for a while.

Here's the link referenced in the image text, which is a blog post from 2011 regarding his fiancée's breast cancer.


This is a mostly serious comic in which Randall expresses his thoughts while his fiancée started to suffer from breast cancer. He doesn't care about many things like politics anymore, there is just his fiancée's cancer and his romance with her. This is one of many comics about cancer he made because of her cancer.

Some of his withdrawn activities are shown here:

  • Politics became prominent in 2008 due to the upcoming US presidential election in November 2008.
  • "Code not working even though it should work" is a common frustration in software development, when the developer is convinced to have covered every possible scenario, but their code still does not run as expected, because of some obscure tiny problem which they didn't think of and which often takes much time (and frustration) to find.
  • Joss Whedon is best known as the creator and showrunner of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), Angel (1999–2004) and Firefly (2002), so he's the "cause" of emotions for Randall during the time they were aired.
  • "People being wrong on the internet" is something that can easily annoy and preoccupy an internet-savvy guy like Randall, who knows the things they're (incorrectly) talking about; this was previously dealt with in the comic 386: Duty Calls.

Eventually, Randall's fiancée's cancer, once diagnosed, monopolizes almost all of his emotions, wiping out nearly everything else as insignificant in comparison. Only a sliver of romance and tiny bits of 'people being wrong on the Internet' appear to occupy the small amount of space in his mind not taken up by cancer. As the threat posed by the cancer slowly wanes, romance can expand out again (with a small peak of romance around mid- to late-2011, presumably due to his marriage to his aforementioned fiancée). As the thoughts of cancer continue to gradually recede from Randall's mind, a space opens up (the question marks) that the cancer concern used to occupy. The ordeal wiped out all the previous, more trivial concerns, pre-occupying him entirely with the disease. Now that there is a little less reason to worry, he's not used to thinking about anything else. His previous preoccupations no longer seem important, so what to fill his time with?


[A graph showing the approximate fractional causes of Randall's emotions, with percentages on the Y axis and time on the X axis. "Politics", "Romance", "Code not working even though it should work", "people being wrong on the internet", and "other" all vary all throughout the time period from 2006 to midway 2010. There is a wedge of Joss Whedon that tapers out starting from 2006 to around mid 2007. There is a noticeable increase in "Politics" around fall, 2008 that tapers off sharply afterwards and appears again in the second half on 2010, until..
Around approximately September 2010, everything else is compressed into a tiny fraction of around 2-3%. The rest is filled with cancer. The tiny wedge of everything does begin to slowly expand to be filled half with romance and half with an area filled with question marks.]

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Damn. Well, she's still going strong. I suppose that's a good thing. Davidy22[talk] 13:58, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I was surprised nobody noted the big increase in romance around early 2009 -- presumably when Randall met his future wife? 11:18, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

My interpretation was just that "politics" peaked in 2008 (for the election), and then receded. Romance wasn't so much increasing as it was going back to its normal value. 19:07, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

I am concerned about the ending of Joss Whedon's influence. Didn't Randall like the Avengers at all? I will grant you that Nathon Fillion has not been in those movies, but there should be some response!-- 14:46, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

"This comic does not show any joke." Hm... I thought putting "people being wrong on the internet" as a major source of emotions was meant to be a joke...? I know this is a mostly serious comic, but saying that it doesn't have any jokes at all seems a bit inaccurate... Not sure though, so I'll just leave it. Just some random derp (talk) 02:11, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

I agree. Even if it was not meant to contain joke, I don't think it is important to point out, there are several xkcd strips that aren't meant to be funny and they don't all note it in the explanations here. Jaalenja (talk)
Okay, I edited it a little bit. How does that look? Just some random derp (talk) 22:51, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Alas, mourn the death of the once mighty People Being Wrong on the Internet. -BlackSocks

2017: 100% politics, blended with people being wrong on the internet. PotatoGod (talk) 18:11, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

cancer sucks. An user who has no account yet (talk) 21:04, 5 September 2023 (UTC)

People being wrong on the internet is very tiny above cancer possibly meaning people being wrong about cancer 16:47, 10 February 2024 (UTC)