Lily Nilipour | Torrey Pines High School Senior
San Diego is known for being a hub for STEM jobs [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] and companies—in 2014, information and communications technology companies alone provided for 67,000 jobs. Companies like Qualcomm, the Scripps Research Institute, Nokia and dozens of others are headquartered in San Diego, contributing to the overlying influence of technology-based education, work and research in the region.
Yet it is not only San Diego that is being swept by the seemingly urgent push towards technological advancement; it feels as if the whole country, even the whole world, is shifting that way as well. In a time where our phones and computers seem to provide all the answers in the world, where we have autocorrect and Google, it seems like the importance of another group of subjects—the humanities, history, art, literature—is being diminished.
As a high school student in San Diego, I am constantly surrounded by the aftereffects of this ideological movement. We are fed pre-conceived notions that the only jobs that will be available for us are those in medicine, engineering and science. We are offered dozens of STEM courses in school, different levels of physics, math and biology.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It may indeed be that these so-called more “practical” arts will be in high demand in the future. But I am afraid that, in the process of preparing for what is assumed practical, we will lose art, humanity and grace.
The humanities are of course not more important than the sciences, but they are undoubtedly just as important. English, history and language courses teach a different skill set than STEM courses do. They teach writing, communication, critical thinking - skills necessary in any profession, be it humanities or sciences. But they also teach empathy, understanding, compassion and human qualities and flaws.
It hardly matters if new technology revolutionizes the way people can communicate—it hardly matters what potential there is—if people don’t have the ability to communicate themselves. The humanities are essential in building human connections and advancing human progress. They are the foundation to all arts and sciences built upon them.
In so many movies and novels, the futuristic, dystopian society emphasizes technology and systematic categorization, and thus promotes dehumanization of the people. They become robots, unable to think for themselves, like in 1984 by George Orwell, or Anthem by Ayn Rand. It is that vision of the future that I am afraid will happen if we lose the humanities, and thus lose our own humanity.