907: Ages

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Every age: "I'm glad I'm not the clueless person I was five years ago, but now I don't want to get any older."
Title text: Every age: "I'm glad I'm not the clueless person I was five years ago, but now I don't want to get any older."


This is a graph of the general themes that occur between the ages covered by each individual set of brackets. The layout is a parody of larger timescales of human or geologic history, e.g. "Bronze Age" or "Iron Age".

The "ages" identified and experiences typical at that age:

  • 0-3 - "[Non-sentient]" - Babies/toddlers are not self-sufficient and not intelligently communicative. The formal definition of "sentient" implies an ability to perceive or feel things (something babies & toddlers can do) but one alternative, erroneous definition of the word (which Randall appears to be using here) implies self-awareness and, more specifically, awareness of one's own awareness. Babies of very young ages lack this, although there is some argument as to exactly when they become self-aware.
  • 4-12 - "Everything is exciting!" - Children learn language and everything they see and learn is new and interesting. Children of this age are characterized with fascination with the world around them, with an attitude that everything is exciting.
  • 13-17 - "Everything sucks!" - As children grow to be teenagers their attitude that everything is exciting often turns into cynicism to the world around them, leading to the attitude that "everything sucks!" Teenagers tend to rebel against authority figures (parents, teachers, etc.) thinking they now know best. Additionally, they tend to be negative about everything they experience in the world.
  • 18-22 - "Woooo college! Wooooo—" [vomit] - This age is a young adult's first foray into the freedom of the world (which often happens in college). For many young adults (whether in college or not) this results in parties or excessive drinking. Excessive drinking results in vomiting.
  • 23-30 - "Relationships are hard!" - Having grown out of the young adult stage, people in their twenties experience their first "adult" relationships. These relationships, unlike the dating they may have done while in school, tend to be complicated.
  • 31-42 - "So are careers!" - Growing now into their thirties, people realize that not only are relationships hard but careers are, too. They experience real-world job stress, sometimes at the same time as beginning their families.
  • 43-54 - "No daughter of mine is going out dressed like that!" - In this age, people who are parents experience the teenage experience from the other perspective. That teenage experience is projected forward to parental experience of having a teenager of their own. This quote is a cliche of a parent yelling at their daughter because the daughter's outfit is far too skimpy for the parent's taste. It is entirely plausible that the now-parent heard this same remark when she was a teenager.
  • 55-75+ - "[More sex than anyone is comfortable admitting]" - For people with kids, this age is known as the "empty nest" phase, where their children have moved out on their own. The freedom of not having kids in the house might bring about re-found passions. For people with kids or without, this age brings the onset of retirement with fewer responsibilities and copious free-time. How that free-time is spent is a subject most younger people aren't comfortable talking about.

The title text is a joke about the shortsightedness of many people (at any age) in believing their current age to be ideal.


[A number line labeled "age." The start point is 0, with points labeled 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70, and the line continues past the width of the panel. There are interstitial, non-labeled points. Above the line are labeled brackets. They are (approximated):]
0-3: [Non-sentient]
4-12: "Everything is exciting!"
13-17: "Everything sucks!"
18-22: "Woooo college! Wooooo—" [vomit]
23-30: "Relationships are hard!
31-42: "So are careers!"
43-54: "No daughter of mine is going out dressed like that!"
55-75+: [More sex than anyone is comfortable admitting]

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I don't know how Randall knows about the 55+ range, but ok. Davidy²²[talk] 01:44, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps he is dating an older lady... 02:47, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
The fact that STDs among the elderly are going rampant -- Lackadaisical (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"0-3 - babies/toddlers are not self-sufficient and not intelligently communicative." Babies at age 2 can communicate pretty good.(And some older people cannot "intelligently communicate". Kickasl108.162.229.40 18:52, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

I believe the idea is that most 2-to-3-year-olds are only capable of communicating things that could be boiled down essentially to either "I want that" or "I don't want that" (at varying levels of intensity and repetition). This is not generally considered "intelligent" communication - indeed most of the phylum chordata is capable of this level of communication. -- Brettpeirce (talk) 14:33, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
As a father. That's just BS. Or I have a genius baby. At 3 she is communicating more than just needs. She communicates fears, dreams, imagines she's a superhero, can count to 20, and can point out logical fallacies. She understands when I'm away on business, and can understand that I cannot interact with her physically. However, right afterwards she'll pretend I can interact with her and will run from the phone. She is sentient. I have reason to believe they are capable of these thoughts at even younger age, just unable to speak their minds. Cflare (talk) 21:51, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Wow, Randall. Way to be a privileged white middle-class dude. Not everyone goes to college! Nitpicking (talk) 14:34, 12 September 2021 (UTC)