2442: Mask Opinions

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Mask Opinions
Although regardless of how everything else shakes out, I definitely won't mind if the norm "wear a mask if you're feeling sick" sticks around after this.
Title text: Although regardless of how everything else shakes out, I definitely won't mind if the norm "wear a mask if you're feeling sick" sticks around after this.


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

Cueball and White Hat are having a conversation about face masks, which have become everyday essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cueball has become exasperated with the weight of mask-related knowledge on his mind at all times, citing examples of instances of conversation in which he irritably divulges his knowledge of face masks. White Hat tries to placate him with the idea that this won't go on forever. He suggests thinking and talking about other things, but given Cueball's obsessive tendencies in the past, this is unlikely to occur. The final words of the comic, "Well. Soon." may be a pun on the phrase "Get Well Soon", commonly said as an expression of sympathy for someone who is sick or injured. In this case, White Hat hopes that Cueball will be able to stop talking about masks soon, which in turn means that he hopes for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. (It is not stated whether he hopes for an end to the coronavirus pandemic simply so that he can stop hearing Cueball talk about masks or because of the lives that would be lost if the pandemic continued.)

In the title text, Randall implicitly endorses White Hat's hope, while suggesting that the new norm of wearing a mask when you feel sick will still be useful after the pandemic ends. Given that masks lower the transmission rates of many viral infections, including the common cold, this could be a wise strategy for avoiding illnesses in the future. Such a practice has been present for some time before the pandemic in other countries, Japan among them, where the habit of masks is the result of the last big pandemic (Spanish Flu, 1919/1920), but in North America the practice began (and may end) with COVID-19. Eliminating the common cold through masks, in this case via hazmat suits, has been examined in the What If? chapter 'Common Cold'.


[Cueball and White Hat are standing and talking. Both are wearing masks.]
Cueball: I am so excited not to have so many opinions about different kinds of masks at the forefront of my brain at all times.
White Hat: Seriously.
[The panel is zoomed in on Cueball's upper body. His hands are raised.]
Cueball: "Do you know any tricks for getting a good seal around the bridge of your nose?"
Cueball: I do, and I want to stop knowing them.
[Cueball is walking away from White Hat with his hands raised above his head.]
White Hat: You could always try talking about something else.
Cueball: Honestly not sure I can!
White Hat: Well.
White Hat: Soon.

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for the title text, i am pretty sure that is the norm in Japan. but then again us Americans are dumb and prefer not having a slight annoyance to ourselves to protecting others from maybe fatal diseases. KKona . 00:50, 27 March 2021 (UTC)Bumpf

Agreed! Considering the increasingly frequent (sometimes near-constant) low air quality & severe air quality days here in Denver, the only thing that'll stop me from wearing a mask in public at all times is heat stroke. It's very noticeable even after brief exercise, that I'm better off with the mask on, much of the year.
Since it's finally been destigmatized by public awareness, I hope any little extra bits of hygiene catch on. Spend a day counting shared surfaces & you'll probably find several more reasons to wash your hands. 😬
ProphetZarquon (talk) 05:34, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
I have my doubts. Politically, forcing the well people to wear masks and quarantine instead of forcing the sick people to has been a great boon to Democrats. Why would they ever want to change back, now that the population has gotten used to following government orders?Seebert (talk) 14:50, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
Sigh... Take off the tinfoil hat, and learn about presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission. Ml66uk (talk) 15:05, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

I hope we can go back to the even older norm of "stay home if you're feeling sick". Shamino (talk) 21:25, 27 March 2021 (UTC)

Agreed. Personally I'll be wearing a mask on the airplane and airports for many years to come. Its amazing how some sanitizer, washing, and masks are with reducing frequency of illness.

This comic could imply that Cueball and White Hat are related or part of the same Covid-19 bubble, since they are standing less than 6 feet apart. They may be out in a public space together. 19:54, 28 March 2021 (UTC)

This discussion is incomplete because as of yet nobody has explained how to get a good seal around the bridge of your nose. I swear the only way I'll ever find out is to kidnap a healthcare professional and put them in a Jigsaw deathtrap where the only way to survive is to post an instructional video on youtube so everyone can finally find out their terrible mask secrets

I definitely agree! I came to this page for that purpose only, and come back with nothing but disappointment @IkaTheFox (talk) 17:19, 21 May 2021 (UTC)

EDIT: Comment was deleted due to spamming-ish-ness.

We usually keep the incomplete tag up for a few days after a comic is posted. If you feel that an explanation is complete, feel free to remove the tag. 00:01, 30 March 2021 (UTC)