You feel desperation when you want to reach a goal, or prevent something really bad from happening, but it seems nearly impossible that you will succeed1. For example, you are trying to save a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy, you are trying to score in the last minute of a sports match where you are three points behind, or you are working to a deadline tomorrow, and you still have a week’s amount of work. In each of these cases, you have a clear goal, but the prospects are dire. However, you use your last bit of hope (or denial) to still achieve it, in any way you can2.
People in desperation are often willing and able to do things they would otherwise not consider, such as breaking the law or begging for help, depending on the importance of the goal. This tenacious behavior can sometimes seem irrational, but sometimes lead to surprising outcomes. And, apart from the small chance that one still succeeds, acts of desperation can function as a relief from future guilt, because someone can at least feel that they tried everything.
In the comic, Murphy is desperately trying to convey his ideas to the senior management of his company, who slowly but surely become more captivated by their smartphones and each other.