2 Reasons You’re An Idiot If You Don’t Hire Humanities MajorsFiled under Rants and Raves
Everyone is pooping on humanities majors these days. It seems like I can’t flip through a goddamn newspaper without reading another article on the worthlessness of an English degree and how unemployable it makes you in today’s global workforce.
I majored in History (it’s like English, but the stuff you read about actually happened and mattered) and have been taking shit for years for not majoring in something useful. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I should have majored in Engineering, boy, I’d be able to pay off a millionth of the cost of my education.
By the way, I love when grown ups tell me I really should have studied Engineering, as if that was an option. I can barely add 8 and 7 in my head. I’m sure I would have been great at building suspension bridges. That’s like telling me I really should have married Natalie Portman. Thanks, man --- I totally would have done that, if only you’d been there to whisper sage advice in my ear.
Anyway, what annoys me far more than all the screeds against the humanities are all the feeble attempts to defend them. Here comes some Classics Professor blabbering on about how the humanities teach you to “think critically” or “process complex information” or “appreciate other cultures.” Hey, kewl. But don’t you get it, Professor? These people don’t know what any of that means. They’re just simple-minded Math majors. You need to talk to the uncultured swine in their own sad little language. Give it to ‘em in 0’s and 1’s.
What I’m trying to say is: why do we need to fall back on fluffy sophistic bullshit when the humanities can easily justify themselves even by the ruthless efficiency standards of Corporate America? Stop furiously masturbating to Pride and Prejudice for a minute and just listen to me.
What are the most important skills for an employee to have? If you look beyond all the usual frills (87+ years of experience, entrepreneurial spirit, demolitions expertise) and think about what most white collar workers actually do every day, I think you’ll agree it really comes down to two primary skill sets. You must be able to:
1) Read and write thousands of pointless e-mails a day
2) Sit in meetings and try to sound like you know what you’re talking about, even when you very clearly don’t
I’m not making that up, by the way. I’m giving you non-fiction, ice-cold empirical fact. McKinsey says 30% of an average day in Corporate America is spent sifting through e-mails. And when we’re not wrist deep in Outlook, we’re sitting in meetings. 25 million meetings occur every day in this great country --- experts say they gobble up 40 – 50% of your time at the office.
Now I’m not a statistician, but according to my TI-83, that means the majority of an average workday is spent reading, writing, and speaking (aka the only skills humanities majors have), not fiddling around on an abacus or fixing a dam, or whatever you quant scum learned how to do in college.
And let me tell you this: no one writes a more cogent e-mail than an English major. No one can sift through 10 million pointless messages faster than someone who had to skim through Anna Karenina to write a term paper. You need to have majored in English just to understand what all of you non-English majors are trying to say in your meandering, incomprehensible e-mails, for fuck’s sake. It’s like reading Proust.
You’re seriously telling me you’d rather have a Computer Science major apishly banging away on a keyboard than have an English major gently playing those keys like a Steinway Grand?
Meanwhile, any humanities major will feel right at home in a meeting, because they’re essentially just Lit seminars. A bunch of people sitting around a wooden table making shit up on the fly to impress a superior? Bain? Or Bowdoin?
Haters insist that Humanities majors graduate with no marketable skills. But what about the ability to bullshit? Every History/English/Philosophy/Religion major has mastered the art of bullshitting. And when your client asks you why SUV sales are 50% lower than projected, and you have no fucking clue, who do you want fielding the question: someone who can solve for X, or someone who’s used to writing 80 page papers on post-modern symbolism in See Spot Run?
All I’m saying is, when I’m a Corporate Overlord, headquarters is going to be stuffed full with Comparative Literature majors. Sure, we won’t be able to manufacture or invent anything, but we will be writing enthralling e-mails in Iambic Pentameter and speaking with refined eloquence on a whole host of subjects that we barely understand. And that’s what really makes you competitive in today’s workforce.