The Humanities Matter. Why Don't We Act Like It?

The Humanities Matter. Why Don't We Act Like It?

People say that humanities majors are useless, but they aren't.

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As an English-oriented major, I don't have the arithmetic abilities to count the number of times I've heard about how useless the humanities are to my future. I've heard it from my parents, my teachers, my friends, and my extended family, and I honestly couldn't tell you how sickening their broken record criticisms have become.

It seems as though the STEM fields have taken over modern society, fueling an obsession with efficiency that dominates our lives. We are driven by a need to contribute to society, but the only contribution we can think of is the kind that provides us with money and provides society with a feeling of moving forward. Progression means technology, so that's what we push in schools and universities. STEM fields get more funding while art programs fall apart. We value English, sure, but only to the extent that it teaches students proper grammatical form. Why study literature when you can study something actually worth your time?

That's the whole problem. The idea of "worth" has been rewritten in our minds to mean "profitable," and that which is profitable in modern society is science. I know, I know, graduate mathematics students would disagree, but ultimately, we judge the STEM fields as applicable to our surrounding universe. Applied science is the way to go in college, because that is what secures a job. Security, comfort, efficiency. These are our values, and art and literature just don't fit.

John Steinbeck said in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath, "The last clear definite function of man... minds aching to create beyond the single need—this is man." Creativity drives humanity. Why else would we call art and literature the humanities if not because they are what make us human? The humanities have defined civilization for all of history. Technology will move forwards always, but the humanities are what make each society unique. Yes, the Romans designed the aqueducts, but we love them more for their majestic architecture, for their classical sculptures, for the great works of Virgil and the adaptation of Greek philosophical thought. The arts made us human in ancient Egypt, in Greece, in Rome, in India, in China, in Byzantium, in Renaissance Italy, and even today. So why don't we give them the credit they deserve?

Students have been brainwashed into thinking that the arts make them useless to society, but in fact, the arts are the only thing keeping society human. They are what separate us from every other species, every other machine. Without art and literature, we are nothing but a computer-like brain built into a breathing, talking, walking mechanism. Without imagination, creativity, and the freedom of expression, we are useless ourselves.

Historically, no one could be "educated" without a deep and thorough knowledge of the humanities. Art history, philosophy, literature and poetry—these were always necessary to create a civilization. We live in a world in which these values are dying, torn by a lack of relation to a post-industrial society. Some people seem okay with that. Some people just don't care enough to do anything about it.

Not everyone has to be an English major, and that isn't what I'm asking. However, maybe take a second the next time you tell a humanities student that their specialty is useless. Take a second, and think about it. Why is it useless? Useless to who? Useless why?

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7 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Moving Into My First Apartment

I've learned quite a few valuable lessons in my first year on my own.

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Last Thanksgiving, I moved out of my childhood home and into my very first apartment. In the just over a year of "adulting," I've learned that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Here are a few things I wish someone had told me beforehand...

1. Bill collectors don't mess around!

If you're as much as a few hours late on paying a bill, expect a letter dropped in the mail and/or an e-mail in your inbox notifying you about it. Stay ahead by keeping a calendar, and write in each bill's due date. Then, place the calendar where you will see it every day — either hang it on your fridge or leave it on your kitchen counter if it's a notebook calendar like the one I have.

If you are looking at the calendar several times a day — even if you are not sitting there and studying it — it becomes less likely that you will miss due dates.

2. The first of each month creeps up QUICKLY

Sometimes it will feel like you JUST paid your rent when it is already due again. Be prepared by having at least a few months' worth of rent saved up.

This way, you will never be late on rent, even if the first of the month catches you off guard (again).

3. It requires constant effort to keep everything in the house stocked

It isn't easy keeping track of everything from toilet paper and toothpaste to trash bags and laundry detergent. And their prices add up quickly! The best way I've found so far to try and not run out of everything I need is by keeping a grocery list and pen on my kitchen counter, right next to my trusty calendar.

When I notice I'm running low on something, such as dishwasher pods, I simply write it on the list. Then, when the list gets long enough, I bring it with me to Wal-Mart and try and get everything I need in one trip.

4. Cleaning is no walk in the park either. 

I am hereby acknowledging my privilege and saying I totally took for granted when my mom, and then the maintenance crew in my college dorm, cleaned my bathroom for me. In order for things not to get out of hand, I keep a handwritten list of everything in my apartment that needs cleaning. And when I clean one thing, I check it off.

Once every item on the list has a checkmark, I re-write a new list for next time. This way, I don't get overwhelmed by trying to clean every single thing in my house all in one day. Instead, I do it little by little when I have the time.

Sure, I'll have a cleaning day now and again, but more often than not I perform one cleaning task a day to keep up with it without tiring myself out after work.

5. You most likely won't get your security deposit back in full

When I first paid my security deposit, I thought to myself, "for sure I will get that back in full whenever I move out." But, I learned that life happens. I've dropped heavy objects and scratched up the wall. I've accidentally burned a spot onto my kitchen table with a burning hot bowl.

I've spilled things onto the carpet that I was unable to get out, even with carpet cleaner. I've also broken things by accident, such as my refrigerator door handle, and the pulley attached to my ceiling fan. I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be getting my security deposit back in full, and that's OK.

That is what it's there for, after all.

6. Coasters are not a want, but a need

When I was growing up, I thought people who insisted you use coasters when you visited their house were annoying. But now I understand. I harass my friends when they come over to always use a coaster. It prevents rings from appearing on the tabletops, which falls under the category of that security deposit we were chatting about earlier.

I recommend buying a pretty set of coasters from a shop like Marshalls. That way, the coasters are nice-looking, and they all match.

7. Housekeeping is a big responsibility

You can't just pick up and LEAVE if you want like you could with your parents. If you want to go on vacation, you still have to pay your bills. You also need to find someone to come care for your pets, bring in your mail, etc.

You are also responsible for turning off your heating/air conditioning when you leave and locking up your doors and windows. You may also be required to have renter's insurance, in the event any damage or break-in happens to your home.

Although housekeeping is a bigger responsibility than I anticipated, I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. I love having my own apartment, despite the expenses and stresses associated with it. It's the best decision I ever made, and not nearly as frightening as I worked myself up to be.

It is a wonderful journey I know you will do just fine on.

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5 Reasons The Mountains Are Better Than The Beach

Sorry I said it, but it's true

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1. There's more to do

at the beach, there are only a few things to do, and they all pretty much come down to just relaxing, and while this can be, and is great, the mountains give you many more options when it comes to daily activities

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2. It is not just seasonal

The beach is great... but only in the summer. The mountains are amazing year-round and are not dependent on the the weather. Whether it's mountain biking, hiking, skiing, climbing, kayaking, etc., you can always find something to do, no matter the weather or season.

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3. It is an escape from the city

the mountains are less crowded, slower-paced and simply a new scene. You no longer have to worry about beating the lines and finding a good spot on the beach

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4. You'll connect more with nature

being in the woods with nature is simply a feeling that can't be replicated anywhere else

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5. Still, have beaches

They'll be lake-beaches, but the mountains still have them, giving you, as Miley Cyrus once said, "the best of both worlds".

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