May 25, 2024

XKCD Web Comic #1016: Valentine Dilemma (described)

A web comic of romance,
sarcasm, math, and language.


Panel One: A stick figure is standing with one hand up to his face in a thinking pose.

Person 1: Flowers seem so…trite. Something homemade? Easy to look halfhearted.

Panel Two: A stick figure with dark hair is seated at a computer desk. She also has one hand up to her face in a thinking pose.

Person 2: Valentine’s Day is a corporate construct. – But hard to opt out of. – I don’t want to be a consumer tool or an inconsiderate jerk.

Panel Three: The first stick figure is pacing.

Person 1: How do I fight cliché ? I could get her a gift on a different day. – But what am I proving?

Panel Four: The second stick figure leans back in her chair, fiddling with a stapler from the desk.

Person 2: It’s such a contrived ritual. But maybe rituals are necessary social glue.

Panel Five: Close up on the first stick figure, now with both hands to his face in distress.

Person 1: Forty presents. No, none! No, give her five items and then steal two from her. – Ok, breathe. Keep it together.

Panel Six: Close up on the dark haired figure, holding the stapler out in one hand while holding the other hand to her face. Lines indicating stress are above her head.

Person 2: And what if he gets me something and I don’t reciprocate? – Prisoners Dilemma! – AAAAAAAAAA!!

Panel Seven: The two stick figures stand facing each other. The first one is holding several items and the second one is still holding her hand to her face.

Person 1: I got you Easter candy and a jar of hammers.

Person 2: I panicked and stapled my hand to my face.

Person 1: We overthought this.

Person 2: Yes.

Hover text: The worst resolution to the Valentine Prisoner’s Dilemma is when YOU decide not to give your partner a present but your PARTNER decides to testify against you in the armed robbery case.


Warning: This comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

Comic by Described by BlindGadget under the Creative Commons license.

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