574: Swine Flu

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Swine Flu
Bad flu epidemics can hit young adults hardest because they provoke their powerful immune systems into overreaction, so to stay healthy spend the next few weeks drunk and sleep-deprived to keep yours suppressed.
Title text: Bad flu epidemics can hit young adults hardest because they provoke their powerful immune systems into overreaction, so to stay healthy spend the next few weeks drunk and sleep-deprived to keep yours suppressed.


Swine flu is a strain of the flu which can be transmitted from pigs to humans. In 2009, it was the origin of the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus, which most new stations called either "H1N1" (the subtype name) or "swine flu". Because of the ambiguous name given to it and the somewhat hazy description of the transmittal process and dangers to humans, many people were concerned about the virus in ways that weren't going to be threats. This comic pokes a bit of fun at the overreaction by users on Twitter.

CrackMonkey74's tweet is a parody of viral Christian(?) messages that say that current tragedies are God's punishment, [despite the fact that the Bible says that the end is not yet to come.] More specifically, Crackmonkey74 blames the ACLU, lesbians (a reference to the current culture wars that give big press towards proponents of gay marriage against fundamentalist Christians), 9/11 (the day when the Twin Towers fell, causing controversy on whether Muslim terrorists crashed their planes on the towers or whether the government staged this by purposefully demolishing the towers) and nanobots (possibly a reference towards the highly promising but still relatively not understood field of nanotechnology, plus another reference towards the phrase "playing God").

Twilight7531's tweet implies that she got a heavy fracture which ended up protruding from her arm. However, she seems to lack medical knowledge [or intelligence in general, given that her name carries both a reference toward the infamous Twilight books and a "gimicky" naming scheme (7531 has the numerals of every odd number that is less than 9)], so she is worried that her fracture is actually swine flu (though how can she be typing with a broken arm confuses me).

Wigu's tweet is a reply towards Untoward's. Given the context, Untoward seems to have "gotten intimate" with a pig (since syphilis is a venereal disease). Given the fact that Untoward got sick because of a pig, Untoward seems to have concluded that he got swine flu. (In light of the fact that Randall considers furries in general to have an animal fetish, to consider Untoward a furry would be a safe assumption here.)

The last comment by 2011SENIORSRULE references a medical paper published by the journal The Lancet, in which it is proposed that autism is caused by vaccination. Since then, the paper was partially retracted in 2004, and fully retracted in 2010 because of conflicts of interest. The entire incident has been defined as the MMR vaccine controversy and more details can be found on the Wikipedia page. This stance has still been seen since the retraction of the paper, and still holds some popularity. The most famous figure in support of it is Jenny McCarthy.

The title text refers to the common notion that young adults are hard drinking individuals who get limited sleep.


Twitter is great for watching uninformed panics unfold live.
[Twitter search results page with "Swine flu" in the search box]
Realtime results for Swine flu
1,918 more results since you started searching. Refresh to see.
{All tweets are "Less than 10 seconds ago from web"}
SKEEVE37: Oh God I ate pork yesterday before I knew about swine flu!
HANNELOREEC: Without duct tape I can't seal the door to keep out swine flu but I can't get duct tape without going outside! Help!
PAULYSHOREFAN: How long until the swine flu reaches me here in Madagascar?
CRACKMONKEY74: Swine flu is God's punishment for the ACLU and lesbians and 9 11 and nanobots!
TWILIGHT7531: I fell down the stairs and there was a crack and a jagged white thing is sticking out of my arm guys is this swine flu?
WIGU: @UNTOWARD: No, that sounds like syphilis, not swine flu. What did you say you did with a pig?
2011SENIORSRULE: My Dad said flu vaccines are linked to autism, so to be safe from swine flu I'm trying to lick an autistic kid.

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HANNELOREEC [1] is a character in the web comic Questionable Content [2]. Hannelore suffers from OCD and other issues including another anxiety disorder, and even the idea of kissing grosses her out. Her comment in this comic is a typical display of her OCD. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I do not wish to start an edit war, so I shall give my reasoning here for putting this under "furries." According to xkcd, furries are people with a fetish for animals. Given that Untoward seems to have "gotten intimate" with a pig (hence why he got a venereal disease), I decided that Untoward has an animal fetish, thus concluded that Untoward was a furry. Greyson (talk) 22:41, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

  • I'm pretty sure that all the twitter names are references to other online comics. 04:53, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Besides that, such an act does not make one a furry. Instead, it makes one a moron. Furries are in fact simply those who have an interest in anthropomorphic animals. 09:08, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Anyone else notice the 1918 swine flu pandemic reference? 19:57, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

I think the title text explanation misses a key point, some flu strains (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic) disproportionately impact fit healthy young people due to an overreaction of the immune system. The title text humorously suggests that counter-intuitively being drunk and sleep-deprived will actually be good for your health in such circumstances. Plm-qaz snr (talk) 14:05, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

It may be worth noting that Hannelore's tweet is real.-- 11:12, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

The question is, did Randal and Jeph collude intentionally or did Randal just throw the tweet into the comic? 18:00, 8 December 2014 (UTC)