Mutually Assured Distraction

Happy birthday to me! I’m 31 today, and Melissa Walshe sent me a very nice present: a wonderful, awful idea!

Duels using weaponized music.

For conflicts that don’t have a clear, provable resolution, opponents can challenge one another to a psychological duel, in which they take turns singing the most aggravating songs possible.

The goal is to force your opponent to a pre-determined end condition faster than you get there.(Maybe they each have to hold and egg and the first one to put enough pressure on it to crack it  loses…leading to the development of “He’s a bit egg-handed” to mean “He’s got a short temper.”) Whatever the end condition, it should subtly demonstrate that the loser has the weaker emotional resilience to annoying circumstances.

The winner of the annoyance battle has the right to call the outcome of the original point, and it might even become the courteous thing to do, as it’s easier to lose face when you’ve just demonstrated yourself to be the more civilized person, and the very act of conceding another fight makes you doubly superior.

If duels like this become popular, writing the most obnoxious music possible might become a deliberate art form, leading to an entire genre of music that is specifically intended for use in psychological combat.


What a cool idea! In fact, something like it has already been invented at least once in the form of the Inuit Competition Song (Katajjaq), where the combatants stand nose to nose and sing overtones at each other until one of them can’t take it any more and starts laughing. It isn’t annoying at all. 🙂



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