0383: "Helping"

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Zak
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Zak » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:13 am UTC

@retro22: You fail at spelling, go and fix it if you want to be considered an "adult" for all thats worth.
Last edited by Zak on Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:16 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Jiggsy » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:15 am UTC

retro22 wrote:although it may be a personal thing that you yourself arent an adult, and are but a mere child...


... Flame On!
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby zinder » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:19 am UTC

jdmack wrote:If someone is truly depressed, then no, we can't be responsible for their happiness. But there have been times in my life when I've been merely sad, and a small interaction with someone who cared was the catalyst for shedding the sadness. The panel showing his arm around her shoulder sometimes works, so it's worth a try.

J. D.


I don't think that the comic is getting at the fact that nobody can/could/should help you when you're down. It's more subtle than that. You're feeling sad. Someone cares about you. They can try to help. A shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to, whatever. But, at the end of the day, they can't hold themselves responsible for making you feel better. They can help, but you have to work through it. And they shouldn't feel responsible being unable to snap you out of it. You might need someone's help to recover, but your recovery is your own responsibility. Nobody else should beat themselves up over your unhappiness. (possible exception if they deliberately caused it)

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby thesoffish » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:40 am UTC

Oh wow. This is spookily reminiscent of the situation with my girlfriend... Now, I'm curious: is she being taken away by an ambulance because she commited suicide, or did the guy just call the ambulance to prevent her from hurting herself and take her off his hands?

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Zak » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:42 am UTC

I'm pretty sure she just got dizzy.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby mudge » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:49 am UTC

retro22 wrote:
mudge wrote:More specifically, I think that the fact that you can't take responsibility for someone else's happiness feels tremendously profound when you first truly understand it, but personally, I think that making that realization is just a necessary step to becoming an adult and as such, doesn't deserve all that much fanfare.



so it's a write of passage...

such as a birthday
bar\bat mitzphah
wedding
funeral



Weddings, funerals and birthdays aren't rites of passage. Death and marriage are far more significant than one small step towards adulthood, and I think warrant fanfare. Birthdays, if you'll notice, are accompanied by less and less fanfare as you get older.

A bar/bat mitzvah and other significant rites of passage are celebrated because they symbolize all of the small steps that it takes to become an adult. We hold them so that we don't have to applaud every little achievement.

you sincerelly must be a warped person to not care about others suffering...

although it may be a personal thing that you yourself arent an adult, and are but a mere child...


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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Pandercolour » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:01 am UTC

This is a lot of nonsense for a webcomic.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby phoenixineohp » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:04 am UTC

So I'm kinda depressed tonight and before logging off I decide to check to see if I new comic could cheer me up.
Wrong day apparently.
Crap.

And yet, now I'm just worried that something bad is happening in Randall's life. I echo all the good wishes from previous posters. And I hope I'm just reading into a moving comic too much.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby calculuslover800 » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:28 am UTC

I just read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller today.

So this really is depressing.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Pirate Jack » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:37 am UTC

danakin wrote:Also, is this the same two from http://xkcd.com/162/ ?


Wouldn't that make it that much more sad?

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby protocoach » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:50 am UTC

I'm yet another first-timer posting here. This comic originally left me with kind of mixed feelings, but I've read the entire discussion about it, and it's been very interesting. I agree with the interpretation that the large panel is the first panel, and it goes left-to-right, top-to-bottom from there. It's a gut-shot. Still not sure exactly how I feel about it.
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby MisterMustard » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:00 am UTC

I once again break radio silence to comment. I promise I won't make it a habit.

Are the people saying "it's just a webcomic" and "it's just stick figures" trolling? I don't see how you can discredit the message because of the medium. Why should the pixels from a scanned drawing be any less capable than the blots of ink in a book? I am made of a heap of atoms, and I reserve the right to be moved by any different arrangement of the same that I see fit.

What do the people disparaging the comic have to gain from it? Are you trying to impress us with your aged and worldly ways and experiences? You can point and cry "emo crap" until you're blue in the face. Nobody is forcing you to read XKCD, and even fewer people are telling you to like it. I don't know if you've missed a couple hundred comics or so, but it's never been a pure humor strip. There's a significant number of strips about relationships and love and all that jazz, albeit often viewed through a very geeky lens.

You're annoyed by the overly emotional response? My gosh, I'm sorry I forgot to run my emotions by you before I felt them. The beauty of being alive is that of all the billions of people alive, and the billions more that have lived and died, no two stories have been exactly the same. Everything we encounter is coupled with our past experiences and beliefs. Some people could come to the realization in the comic as a child, and some might never reach that stage in their life. For some it could be a ho-hum event, and for others it could be a life altering occasion. I walk a few miles every day, it's a necessary step of getting to work. That doesn't mean I won't be whooping and hollering when my daughter takes her first steps.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Wes Janson » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:02 am UTC

I don't know whether you are being serious or not. I really hope not. LIFE DOES NOT SUCK. Life is glorious, wonderful, and exciting. Life is opportunity. And, from a more practical viewpoint, life is all you've got, so you might as well make the best of it.

Life is so grand that people dread the day that they will leave it behind.


It is truly a wonderful thing that you feel that way, but unfortunately such a state of affairs is not always possible for everyone. In the stock market, the value of a stock is (theoretically, to a certain extent) predicated on the predicted future value of the dividends. If one predicts negative conditions as a constant into the future, then they place a negative value on their continued existence. When simple existence become painful, the prospect of nothingness becomes appealing. As the predicted dividends decrease and disappear, cashing out becomes logical.

And sadly, as is often the case, those around either overlook or are unable to help with the pain. So it goes.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby JunglePredator » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:37 am UTC

I don't get the comic & the postings here explain nothing... I just saw a lot of speculation & people saying they had emotional responses to something they don't fully understand.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby ffzman » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:41 am UTC

Also registered to post, it appears there are quite a few of us. I saw this before work this morning first, and I didn't really get it because it looked like he was choking her. Now that I look at it again, it reminds me a LOT of How to Save a Life by The Fray.

The frame where the girl is possibly pushing the guy away really, really hits me, because I think I did that to someone that I care a lot about but am no longer on speaking terms with. Luckily, I have not ended up in a hospital or a hole in the ground yet.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby protocoach » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:46 am UTC

JunglePredator wrote:I don't get the comic & the postings here explain nothing... I just saw a lot of speculation & people saying they had emotional responses to something they don't fully understand.

Well, yeah. I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand everything that I have an emotional reaction to. Hell, that may be part of the reaction. Once I understand something completely, there's not a lot of mystery left, and there's not much there to still be reacting to. There may be beauty, but there's little magic. I feel that when you fully comprehend something, you strip out some of the emotion of the thing. My favorite poems, paintings, books, and songs have always been ones that I can't fully mentally dissect. There's always something out there to strive for, a greater knowledge that's just out of reach.
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Marbas » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:49 am UTC

you sincerelly must be a warped person to not care about others suffering...

although it may be a personal thing that you yourself arent an adult, and are but a mere child...


Why don't you just ignore him? It would certainly be the appropriate thing to do given the circumstances.
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Responses to Fear

Postby libra » Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:43 am UTC

Depictions such as this provoke fear responses in many who have experienced the situation first hand. Sadness, grief in those for whom the story had a very grim alternative ending. Intensity of emotion, certainly.

If there is one thing I have noticed, it's that people who can't cope with such emotions tend to attempt to dismiss them with glib, snide and sarcastic comments to hide the fact that they're papering over the cracks that just formed in their emotional core. The fact that grief and pain are universal - a truth pointed out to the world by Siddartha, the Gautama Buddha - isn't something that everyone likes to hear even today.

This strip more than qualifies as covering the "romance" aspect of the comic's subtitle. Sometimes a romance has a tragic outcome, or other trauma of some sort. In that case, often enough there's nothing left for anyone but the coping mechanism and the long climb to dealing with it.

What astounds me is the clarity with which Randall has managed to evoke that sense of personal drama through such a simple medium. All signal; no noise.

This is what I would call elegant, in the mathenatical sense.

And to those posters who have commented here to state how this, or a similar story, has happened to them ... you're not alone, people. None of you. Draw strength from knowing that.

Peace.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby lavkian » Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:33 am UTC

kjsharke wrote:Me too, but hearing everyone say that makes me think of an Atmosphere song:
I bet my fans know me better than my friends do
Because my friends don't pay that much attention
The fans memorize every single sentence
Which makes them far too smart to ever start a friendship
I need to start writing pieces about other people's problems
'Cause strangers are starting to get worried


While it's not quite related, I like this one far better:

I love you, don't ever fucking question that
that's why we'll probably never get along
If I was better at finding the right words to say
I wouldn't need to write these motherfucking songs


As for the comic, well, the problem comes from the fact that the depressing comics are so few and in between, so you come expecting a joke, irony, wit, and instead get a dose of real life, which we, as Americans, are probably the least used to. So of course the natural reaction is to reject it.

What I find odd is that Randall has said before, in regards to his the Ronpaul comics, that "he is not his characters," so it makes me wonder whether not not this is the except to the rule.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby ZLVT » Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:53 am UTC

@libra: wow, that was rather insightful if a bit judgemental.
For me, XKCD, is quite insightful. I was introduced merely a few months ago (I went back over all the comics, then again when i found out about the little messages that pop up) and I registered (with some difficulty due to a lack of forward DNS) to post here.
Normally an XKCD comic is funny but with a hint of wisdom, as a Hungarian I am used to jokes and anecdotes being fables and great truthes in disguise. So I appreciate not only the sort of humor that usually pops up but also the educational value inherent in many. In the past there have been some comics that were far more message than joke but never before have I been left feeling nothing but sadness at a comic. Moreso because I come here to have a good laugh so given the context of the comic, I think it delivers a rather cold harsh shock.
I won't go over all 7 pages of comments (Only the first few) to see where the discussion has led, so I'll just post my oppinion and if someone feels personally affronted by that, they can abuse me later. It seems to me (bear in mind I stay at arms length or more from psych students, psychologists, psychiatrists etc) that Randal is seriously pissed, like the comic just rings of spite and anger mixed with or brought about by pain to me, just a guess and my interpreation but that's what it seems like. So I don't know whether Randal is venting or educating but this comic seems very out of place. I don't know whether humor was buried in there somewhere, expecially as I respect Randal too much to belive he would make that the plinth for some monumental joke. While I accept that an artists owes his public no explanation, I would still like to know what the [half of you are computer people, take a guess at the omission] was going on. If there is a previously posted answer to this, I would apreciate being shown it.
That being said, I think the comic was very powerful and struck a (dis)chord with many of us (D minor for me, the saddest chord). So congrats to Randal if evoking emotion was his purpose, or even if he meant to educate those who would hurt themselves trying to help a friend, he succeded, but this is hardly the feeling I like to leave an XKCD with.
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby divergentcurl0 » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:18 am UTC

Is it possible that when the stick figure is wearing his hat, it is how RM acts in public, or in his less than serious manner? But in comics like this and angular momentum, it is his deeper, more emotional side. Just speculation, naturally, and I am quite sure there are plenty of comics where there is a hatless person not representing RM, but it could be possible.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby flying_potato » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:24 am UTC

Hey, another register-just-to-post,

I don't think anyone's offered this slightly more optimistic version of events:
( inspired by someone else's idea that the girl had a phone in panel 3)
1. The guy offers help and support, but is unsuccessful/pushed away
2. He thinks that he has no effect, and cannot help her
3. However, whilst still in pain/ a danger to herself, the girl remembers the guys attempt ( or even realizes her own responsibilty) and gets herself some help...

Interestingly, everyone seems to have interpreted the Ambulance in the 4th panel as a bad thing, but in that situation if someone is finally acknowledging that they need help, and willing to seek/ask for it for themselves; that can be a really good thing...

What if the message of the comic is that sometimes a mere presence or hand on the shoulder, whilst not seeming like anything much, can be all someone needs to help them through it or inspire them to get help? ...and therefore it's about 'helping' another even when it seems futile

Or, what if the comic is meant to be taken from the point of view that the girl is realizing that somebody else isn't going to save her, she has to help herself, because she is the only one that can take responsibilty for her problems...

Look, I agree that you can't take responsibilty for somebody's elses happiness, but I also think that doesn't mean you shouldn't try, because sometimes all you need is that reassurance that someone else cares about you, and that can make such a difference...

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby DStryker » Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:08 pm UTC

What I would like to know is if the date "Helping" was posted had anything to do with do with "To Write Love On Her Arms /// Love is the movement" day on February 13th. "To Write Love On Her Arms /// Love is the movement" is a suicide awareness day and I just found it very fitting that this comic coincided with it.

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Re: "Helping.png" Discussion

Postby dbtid » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:00 pm UTC

Jenevieve wrote:So often in my life I want the "make everything better" button to exist, because I hate seeing other people being unhappy, and I don't know what to do to help them.


I wish I had an "Undo" button, like I do on every editor I have...

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby GiantSnowman » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:18 pm UTC

I'm a bit split about this subject.
I was that girl, and boy did I cling to ankles. Eventually, everyone shook loose and I was left to find happyness for myself. I succeeded, but I'm still not sure if it was despite of, or because of having to do it alone. I think what I truly needed was anyone could fully empathize with a heavy depression, which seems to be one of the hardest things to empathize with for a healthy mind.

I find it odd that noone has mentioned "What dreams may come" in this thread yet. (imdb link)

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Schema » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

I am currently that guy. Long story. Very long. Thanks for the perspective everyone from both sides, I feel a bit better.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby pinkgothic » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:34 pm UTC

MisterMustard wrote:What do the people disparaging the comic have to gain from it?


I don't know.

That being said, I wanted to both applaud you and give you a small smack for your post. :P But the problem with latter would be invalidating the statement I was going to make with it... namely that there are people who didn't enjoy the comic and who indeed don't get what the fuss is about, who don't feel the need to post in this thread and rub it in. That was me, but, as you see, I posted. :P

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby tehmoth » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:47 pm UTC

krynd wrote:That, unfortunately, represents the highly apathetic society we live in. She was right in saying that the Internet hasn't brought us closer together, it's only alienated us. I (as do many of you, probably) see this every day: human suffering is reduced down to a numbers game. "Helping" someone is just a click away (give money to a charity via PayPal), and the news will shield you from the true effects of something (am I alone in my constant fear of homelessness? I'm not even part of that sub-prime mortgage thing and I still fear. I've even gone so far to scout out new "homes" hidden away in the buildings I walk through).

The worst part, though, was the "brilliant" marketing types who wanted to make money off what they (until the last post) would have to assume was real (unfortunately, they didn't). They assumed it was a way to gain publicity, similar to lonelygirl15's (rather weak) video series (or worse yet, the YouTube video of a guy breaking up in front of his girlfriend in front of his entire community, then milking the shame she'd get out of it).


Not everyone was convinced it was marketing, others were convinced it was attention-whoring or an art project. The latter is pretty close to what it turned out to be.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby mudge » Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:57 pm UTC

MisterMustard wrote:I once again break radio silence to comment. I promise I won't make it a habit.

Are the people saying "it's just a webcomic" and "it's just stick figures" trolling? I don't see how you can discredit the message because of the medium. Why should the pixels from a scanned drawing be any less capable than the blots of ink in a book? I am made of a heap of atoms, and I reserve the right to be moved by any different arrangement of the same that I see fit.

What do the people disparaging the comic have to gain from it? Are you trying to impress us with your aged and worldly ways and experiences? You can point and cry "emo crap" until you're blue in the face. Nobody is forcing you to read XKCD, and even fewer people are telling you to like it. I don't know if you've missed a couple hundred comics or so, but it's never been a pure humor strip. There's a significant number of strips about relationships and love and all that jazz, albeit often viewed through a very geeky lens.


It's a discussion board, and we're discussing. What do people gain from coming in here and posting that they thought it was a great comic? Everybody's perspective here is worthwhile. While I don't agree with the emotional responses (and they annoy me), they do provide a sense of connection between the like-minded folk. If I'm supposed to have some high over-arching goal with my posts in here, then let's just say that it's providing another perspective that people can mull over. Whether you agree with me or not, considering a contrasting viewpoint is going to add depth to your perspective.

You're annoyed by the overly emotional response? My gosh, I'm sorry I forgot to run my emotions by you before I felt them. The beauty of being alive is that of all the billions of people alive, and the billions more that have lived and died, no two stories have been exactly the same. Everything we encounter is coupled with our past experiences and beliefs. Some people could come to the realization in the comic as a child, and some might never reach that stage in their life. For some it could be a ho-hum event, and for others it could be a life altering occasion. I walk a few miles every day, it's a necessary step of getting to work. That doesn't mean I won't be whooping and hollering when my daughter takes her first steps.


You're annoyed by my analytical response? My gosh, I'm sorry I forgot to run my thoughts by you before I thought them.
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Lolsaur » Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:03 pm UTC

Just because a person looks at things from an analytical perspective doesn't mean they're devoid of emotion. So, mudge is more than entitled to add another way of looking at things.

Also, as mudge said, it's a discussion board. Not a "lets all praise the creator of the drawing" board. I personally like this comic and there are things I hadn't thought of in connection with this drawing before I read this topic.

Let's all try to get along, shall we?
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You've never looked better than you did that night
And your eyes have never looked so blue
And when we kissed it was like nothing else existed
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Sam Knight » Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:29 pm UTC

Oh man I've been in this boat... Luckily the person stopped making attempts and fixed themselves up on their own, because that time round it seemed like I was completely powerless. Would probably have followed suite if things didn't work out the way they did..
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby damaless » Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Martial wrote:Emotions suck. Seriously; life's much better without them.


I would argue that life without emotions is not comparable to life with emotions.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby MeQuickWantSlow » Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:02 pm UTC

This comic really reminds me of an Our Lady Peace song, and I love it very much.

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Re: "Helping.png" Discussion

Postby Flex Flint » Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

volin wrote:Just adding my sentiments that I hope all is all right in Mr. Munroe's life, and the lives of those around him. I truly hope all is well.


Same here. Reading only the first and the last part of this thread, currently going exceptionally fast to number 8, everyone still seems unsure whether something really happened or not.

If nothing happened: good, and it's Randall's right to draw whatever cartoon he wants, the least you can say is that it makes us think, and I believe this has always been a reason for a lot of people to like xkcd.
If something did happen to someone close to Randall, we can only wish him and his relatives and friends strength, (edit to add:) and show them as much of our support as we can.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Czolgosz » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:11 pm UTC

Christ, this comic comes the day after someone very dear to me nearly commits suicide while I was left feeling helpless.

That's what I see in the comic. He sees her, tries to comfort her, but there's nothing he can do. She hurts herself anyways and, well, that's it. You can't take responsibility for someone else's happiness.

I do hope that Mr. Munroe is not going through such a time himself.

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:17 pm UTC

Man, Randall's in a bad way...or something...

Sure you can't take totaly responsibility all the time, but at the same time it's amazing how much someone doing something right can really help.

I worry people...especially males...are prone to thinking there's no point in trying to help because they can't do any good. The truth is a lot of the time just spending time with someone, listening to them, and helping them with actualy tangible things can really help someone who might otherwise be in trouble.

[Edit]
nekodromeda wrote:The way I read the comic (after the 4th or umptymillionth time, admittedly) is that he (guy in comic, not Randall) has called a psychiatric ward or an ambulance after (something traumatic that has the girl in a corner). The top right corner panel is him handing the phone to her, and the lower left panel is her talking on the phone to the people, ending in them coming to take her to where she can get help.
Oh me yarm that does look like a phone kinda...doesn't it...Hmm too fuzzy to be sure, but that might make sense....a little more story than just "I R DEPRESSED GIRL! YOU TRY HELP! I GO BOOM!" But I'd say that means he DID try to help. No you can't put something like that all on yourself, but seriously, you did do something and it was likely the right thing to do.
"She’s a free spirit, a wind-rider, she’s at one with nature, and walks with the kodama eidolons”
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Zohar wrote: Down with the hipster binary! It's a SPECTRUM!

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jsnipe
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby jsnipe » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:28 pm UTC

:cry:
Bite me. Better yet; hold still.

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Sprocket
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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:29 pm UTC

Man...I just want to give someone a big, long, warm, snuggly now... not that my icon doesn't make me want to do that anyway.
"She’s a free spirit, a wind-rider, she’s at one with nature, and walks with the kodama eidolons”
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Zohar wrote: Down with the hipster binary! It's a SPECTRUM!

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby sgt york » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:59 pm UTC

Heh...."Someone is crazy and it's you." (Jonathan Coulton song, same guy that did the Portal song)

Words of wisdom I heard long ago, "You have no control over what someone else thinks, says, does, or feels. That means you cannot have any responsibility for those things. However, you do have control over how you are going to react to them. Moreover, you're the only one that has that control. That means you can't avoid your responsibility for those things."

Doesn't mean you can't try, just don't beat yourself up when you fail. Because odds are, you will.

Also, thanks Randall. I'm going to show this one to my wife. She needs it.

Just probably not tonight....not a good Valentine's day conversation....

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Re: "Helping" Discussion

Postby doomglobe » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:09 pm UTC

I am also registered because of "helping".

I wonder if there is a real life story behind this strip, it doesn't seem like the type of thing that would be drawn without a prompt from an event in your life.

I have been on both ends of the depression stick, and the important thing is that you have to wake yourself up from it. The only thing another person can do is to try to make you aware that you are having a waking nightmare. This is tricky, because when you are depressed, everything everyone says can be interpreted in the worst possible light, so when they tell you that you are not thinking clearly, obviously it is an attempt to get under your skin and convince you of something to fit their ulterior motive which is probably your destruction. Even the very simple "I care about you and want you to stop feeling sad so we can have fun together again" sounds like "I am part of a massive conspiracy and you are one of our workslaves and you had better get up off your ass and back into the salt mines".

The most helpful thing anyone has ever said to me was mean, not helpful. "Dude, you know its wicked pathetic when you get like this" That made me snap right out of it. I knew he didn't have an ulterior motive, because he was an asshole and I knew where he stood. That is why honesty really is the best policy.


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