929: Speculation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 17:54, 21 January 2014 by (talk) (Explanation)
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'I was pretty good at skeet shooting, but was eventually kicked off the range for catching the clay pigeons in a net and dispatching them execution-style.'
Title text: 'I was pretty good at skeet shooting, but was eventually kicked off the range for catching the clay pigeons in a net and dispatching them execution-style.'


The conversation in the first three panels is fairly banal—it's a quick rumination on the nature of social networking platforms, and a brief reflection on their evolution. Whether or not everybody switches over to Google+ or stays on Facebook is of no matter, as evidenced by the fact that AOL and IRC still both have devoted (if dwindling) followings.

And then, Black Hat shoots a crossbow bolt through the basketball. The implication is that he was invited to join the game by way of the ball being thrown his way. He has declined the invitation.

It's a symbolic gesture. When Black Hat says he's not the 'catch' type, what we're really meant to take away from the comic is that Black Hat will do what he wants to do, regardless of what his friends are doing. They're shooting hoops, he's on his phone. They're playing catch, he's got a crossbow.

The point is that Black Hat doesn't care about universal acceptance. Black Hat cares about Black Hat. The fact that he's not the catch type symbolizes that while statisticians may portray social network-ers as a sort of hive mind that will gravitate towards one platform over another, at the end of the day that hive mind is made up of innumerable individuals, many of whom will share Black Hat's easily summarized world view: My way.

In the image text, we hear of another instance of him playing by his own rules at a skeet shooting range. A clay pigeon is a clay disc that is thrown into the air and serves as a target for a shotgun. The image text is a play on words, implying that the clay pigeons are the same as real pigeons, and Black Hat has captured them using a net and shot them from a very close range--completely unnecessary given that they are inanimate objects. It is especially surprising that Black Hat would bother to do this at all, especially since he has already proven himself to be an excellent shot.


[Two people are playing basketball, and black hat guy is looking at a phone.]
Cueball: Do you seriously think everyone will move to Plus? It was hard enough getting them on Facebook.
[Friend attempts to throw the basketball through the hoop, but it bounces off.]
Friend: Do they have to?
Friend: My mom still uses AOL—it doesn't mean my social life has to happen there.
[Cueball passes the basketball back to #2.]
Friend: Universal adoption isn't everything. I mean, IRC is still—
[Friend throws the basketball.]
[An arrow pierces the ball.]
[Black Hat has a one handed crossbow, and is still looking at a phone.]
Friend: You're not really the "catch" type, are you?
Black Hat: I am not.

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I love the comics like this that work on multiple levels. They really lend to the legitimacy of xkcd as a thinking man's webcomic, and they're great comics to link to when I'm trying to make a point. Davidy²²[talk] 09:24, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

It's a bolt. Longbows fire arrows, crossbows fire bolts. 'K?

That bolt looks maighte like an arrow to me... but let's not quarrel about this. --Qwach (talk) 23:35, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Crossbows do fire bolts, so the only reason you wouldn't want to quarrel about it is because you would be wrong.
However, the word "arrow" comes from the official transcript, so YOU don't want to quarrel about it either, 'K? 07:19, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Quarrel? [1]-- 12:57, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Please check your adds on the preview before committing it here. Everything you do save here is viewable to everyone; that's just annoying. I just want to see your primary intention, because THAT'S IMPORTANT, if that doesn't work fix it at PREVIEW before we get a mess here. I'm just happy if I can understand what you are talking about. --Dgbrt (talk) 00:27, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

The explanation states that it is Black Hat speaking in the title text. It makes much more sense if it is Randall speaking, but just demonstrating a slightly black-hat tendency. In my opinion. 17:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, but in the original comic's title text, it uses the single-quotes--that wasn't just added by explainxkcd as a formatting thing. When Randall is supposed to be the one speaking, there are no quotation marks in the title text... that implies this one is a quote from Black Hat. 04:27, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

There's another joke not mentioned in the explanation. Cueball said "You're not really the catch type, are you." since Black Hat shot the basketball instead of catching it. 21:32, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the Category:Multiple Cueballs. I switched which Cueball is called Cueball in the transcript so now the one named Cueball has all the interesting comments of this comic and also he is the one shooting at the hoop and passing to Black-Hat. Also made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. --Kynde (talk) 08:23, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Where'd Black Hat get that crossbow? Benjaminikuta (talk) 08:58, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

From the all-you-can-eat crossbow store. We're regular customers. Danish (talk) 00:06, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
Psst— answering six-year-old comments ain't cool. BlackHat (talk 20:44, 25 April 2021 (UTC
How else could I have answered? (And that was a month-old comment...) Danish (talk)) 15:27, 26 April 2021 (UTC))