jan-ken, or how to make decisions like adults

Jan-ken: the adult way to make decisions.

In one of my infrequent wikipedia meanderings I came across this lovely bit on the historical application of the Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors.  These are the types of moments in human history I most enjoy reading about, the arbitrary and idiosyncratic, the things that as a person I can understand and relate to.

I’d like to start resolving most of my disputes through rock-paper-scissors.  It’s a clear-cut, decisive game that leaves no room for ambiguity: a leveler of the field in this murky existence of ours.

Of course, what really amazes me about this wikipedia blurb is that the outcome of the game was honored.  No takebacks or brushing it off as mere play; no, this was a match fought in the sphere of reality with all the authority of a notarized contract.  Over the past few years, I’ve begun thinking more and more about human relationships and the use of contracts, formal and informal, and why exactly we are both inclined and agree to them.  Do we use them to temper the perplexities of our existence?  If so, the irony there is that formal contracts are often so abstruse as to be meaningless and informal contracts so infrequently honored that both only contribute to the confusion.

I have to keep in mind that I might also be experiencing an ongoing existential crisis, so social contracts and the like seem especially pointless.  Fascinating, yet pointless.  So why not have some fun with it and jan-ken all your problems away?

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