NHD Challenge

Last week I worked at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. First time I’d visited Sin City in a while and it seemed to have grown even more gaudy, more garish, more….well, ‘Manhattan on steroids’ is what came to mind. Uber adding a 7x surcharge (seriously–$80 for a 3 mile ride?!). Gridlock on the Strip from the Convention Center to the Rio, where I had the privilege of paying $275/night. A $30 meatloaf dinner. Slot machines pinging endlessly in the casino. Then, as the elevator doors closed, blessed silence.

at Las Vegas CESI was working for a company called Boogie Board. This is not like the boogie board you ride in the ocean, but an electronic tablet you can write on with a stylus that offers a pen-on-paper feel. My task was to analyze the handwriting of attendees who came to the booth. You might think that as president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation I would look askance at electronic writing, but Boogie Board’s mission is “redefining writing,” and from where I stand, any effort to keep handwriting alive is warmly welcomed.

Analyzing handwriting is a remarkably personal and sometimes profound experience. Although I spent only about five minutes with each person, I managed to hit some nerves and made no less than three people cry (not in a bad way). One had PTSD, another’s sister had recently died, another’s close relative had been murdered. While these specific incidents aren’t manifest in their handwriting, the severe emotional pain at a particular period of time in their lives is.

Handwriting cannot tell the future, but it does reveal a great deal about the past and how the writer coped with it. It tells positive things, too, and I also enjoyed talking to people who see life as a party to be shared. Only one person said about my analysis, “well, I suppose that’s pretty standard,” which ticked me off. I explained that I hadn’t said the same things to anyone else that I’d told him about his handwriting. He did admit that what I’d said was accurate as he handed me his card. Later, I looked up his website and discovered that he was a well-known scientist and mathematician, so his super-analytical mind made sense.

January 17th is the start of International Handwriting Week, which culminates in National Handwriting Day in the US on January 23rd. The 23rd was chosen because it’s the birthday of John Hancock, whose big, bold signature splashes across the Declaration of Independence. The idea of NHW and NHD is to bring attention to handwriting and its continuing importance in the twenty-first century. Electronics have their place, but they can never replace the benefits of putting pen to paper and letting one’s thoughts flow with the ink (though the Boogie Board comes pretty close).

Recent research supports the theory that writing by hand helps retain thoughts longer and allows the writer to think in more complex ways. To learn more, visit www.cursiveiscool.com Meanwhile, I have a NHD challenge for you: write something, anything. Take a picture of it and share on your social media. Here’s mine…