Start Thanking Your Humanities Friends

By: Honey Rogoff  |  May 11, 2021

By Honey Rogoff, Opinion Editor

Over the course of my time in YU I have been lucky enough to have made an incredible group of friends. Many of us come from different backgrounds and have different interests and hobbies. We all came to college with different life goals and paths, but we found something that unified each of us, creating a close bond. Whether we shared a love of food, music, movies, or humor, I was able to bond with many different types of people and will be forever grateful. The one thing that a handful of my friends and I have disputed (all in good taste) is the worth of humanities majors — the people and the majors themselves.

I have heard from friends, acquaintances, and various passersby that the humanities are not as useful as the sciences, and that they are often a waste of time. While I do not take these comments too personally, it is difficult to hear people considering my career path, and the paths of many others, to be a waste of time, especially after having spent a considerable amount of time and money in this “useless” field. I recognize that these remarks are not intended to mock or hurt me, but they remain insensitive and narrow-minded.

An average comment I have heard is, “all you do is write papers and make pictures.” I ask you to remember the last time you wrote a paper in college that you considered easy and were genuinely proud of. A paper you tackled without the help of others (likely humanities majors) and submitted before or on the deadline. I ask you to remember the last time you sat for hours on end creating a web graphic that turned out to be up to the professor’s standards; a design’s final product which you are proud of. All we do may be “writing papers and making pictures,” but an immense amount of time and effort goes into completing these assignments and projects.

Some aspects many people may not have considered is how much they benefit from those who studied or majored in the humanities. If you have ever watched or heard a comedian, you have most likely benefited from the humanities. If you read the news, whether it is online or on paper, you have benefited from the humanities. If you have ever needed a break from your grueling days of school and work and turned to BuzzFeed to tell you which type of hero you are based on your favorite locations, you have benefited from the humanities. Television, movies, music, video games, and comic books are all modes of entertainment and media which exist primarily due to people with an interest and/or degree in the humanities.

One subject that many forget is considered a humanities subject is language/language arts. I, for one, have used the language learning software Duolingo on multiple occasions with hopes to learn a couple different languages. As of December 2020, over 500 million people use Duolingo. I would take the liberty to assume that at least a handful of those users consider the humanities as a major or focus in college to be pointless. However, these same individuals take time attempting to learn languages that fascinate them or may help them move up in the world of business and success. Yet, somehow, we humanities majors are still underrated and considered beneath other fields.

The main issue I see with this is not the lack of respect and admiration for those who have dedicated so much of their skill set to creating for others. What I am most disappointed about is the toxic action often gone unnoticed of bringing others down to build yourself up. Most times when I hear the humanities are not valuable, it is in context of another field. For example, humanities are not as valuable as sciences. For the sciences to be valuable or held to a high standard, the humanities should not, and do not, have to suffer. On the contrary, sciences and humanities working together may build the most efficient products for the future. Both fields are important and hold a multitude of opportunities for various people with a wide variety of interests.

While other subjects, experiences, and skills are vitally important in many job fields, many jobs could not be done without the humanities as well. The next time you hear of someone who is interested in a humanities subject or has committed to one as their college major, do not knock them down. Instead, ask them why they are interested in that topic and what they aim to achieve. Or, if that is taking too much of an interest which you genuinely do not have, appreciate that they have different interests than you and are working to make something great. Subjects and professions within the humanities provide the necessary tools to think critically and creatively. These subjects prepare us for the working world and open doors of possibilities, exposing us to various cultures and experiences. We must all work together to create a complete, cohesive, and functional workspace.