Monday, I had to take an exam in my Campaign Communication class. The exam itself was not too difficult. In fact, I found it to be just right for the graduate level — complex, in-depth application questions that incorporate the literature in the field with contemporary examples. I studied for the exam a decent amount of time beforehand, and even though I didn't seem to take as long on it as many of my colleagues, I think (read: hope) that was just because the journalist in me led me to be more concise in my answers.
However, the exam was difficult in a different way — it was physically demanding. Yeah, you read that correctly. For the first time since a Global Terrorism class I took in the summer of 2006, I actually had to use a Blue Book and write my answers to the exam on paper, with a pen! While my professors since that summer have allowed us to type up our answers to exams and submit them electronically, write papers instead of exams, take OpScan exams or write only short-answer exams, this professor said to heck with that, let's kill some trees and use some good, old-fashioned ink.
At first, I thought, OK, piece of cake, I've done this before. I though, heck, this will be fun. What the heck was I thinking? About three paragraphs in to answering the first question, my right hand started cramping up. I stopped, took a sip of my soda, stretching my hands, cracked a knuckle or two, and then I pressed on. Before I finished that question, my pinky was completely numb. As I began the second question, my ring finger went numb as well. So, half my hand is numb, meaning I can barely hold up the pen. So, with a pen that is nearly parallel to the table, I try to finish the exam, my writing getting more and more illegible as I progress. No matter of shaking or stretching my hand seemed to help. The only solution was to finish chicken-scratching the answers and get the heck out of there. So that's what I did.
The lesson learned here is that technology is convenient, and it helps out the environment in many cases. It has, however, made us lazy, weak-handed people. I hope I never have to take another Blue Book exam in my life. If so, I might just write in a URL to a blog post with my answers. And you'll probably see me wearing a sling.