Do you follow me on instagram? If you do, bless you for your patience! You probably notice that around the 20th-23rd of each month, your InstaStory feed is attacked with a barrage of zodiac memes celebrating the new season. But it isn’t just me. The fact that there’s a plethora of astrology meme accounts reflects the millennial and gen-Z obsession with something written off as frivolous and fake. Now, the cosmic sensation isn’t just flooding the internet but stores with zodiac jewelry, prints, and apparel. So… why? Why are millennial so infatuated with astrology?
The answer is in timing. We didn’t know that the Columbine shootings in 1999 would become a national trend over the next twenty years. We believed in a world where violence was an exception, not the rule. Millennials were innocent when it dissipated in a twin towered blaze on 9/11. The flames marked an era of war and patriotism and hyper security. We never got to know safe before we knew guarded. Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, and it’s still not the same. Nothing was safe, not even food on the table because in 2008, the economy collapsed. A lot of millennials watched their parents get laid off. Some entered the job market to find no employment awaiting them. But that’s life, right? Only, in 2013, a schoolroom full of kids gets shot and we don’t do much about it. In 2014, Mike Brown’s dead body lays in the street for hours in Ferguson. In 2017, the world begins to understand the enormity of gender violence with #MeToo. Shootings continue to rise, becoming more frequent. Natural disasters also increase as climate change impacts the earth. And it’s hard for us not to feel hopeless. The student debt load has tripled. As a generation, we are the most underemployed. We are the first generation that is anticipated to not surpass our parent’s generation in life expectancy, and on average, we are having less sex than our parents generation so you could say it’s rough out here!!
So what do you do? How do you cope with a world that feels like it’s imploding sometimes? We look outside of ourselves for hope. There’s something magical about looking up to find stars and meaning as opposed to smoke and bullets. We have to believe in something outside of this world because the world itself has given us little to believe in. In reading horoscopes, we dare to fathom it may be ok, that the universe has good things for us yet.
I was raised devoutly Catholic. Faith resonated with me in a way religion couldn’t. I was a good catholic girl. The girl who doesn’t eat meat on Fridays during lent. I never wore jeans to church, and attended stations of the cross most Fridays. To this day, I can say the rosary from memory by counting the prayers on my fingers. I still feel compelled to confess every transgression I commit, wracked with the stereotypical guilt. It was never about hating Catholicism or critiquing it. Rather, I realized that it didn’t resonate with me, and believing in an intimate relationship with God, my adult faith lay elsewhere. Nevertheless, I needed rituals to replace what I lost in fading from Catholicism. There’s a faithfulness to me and what I do. I seek significance even when there is none. Perhaps that’s what I understand astrology, enneagrams, strengths based assessments. I want there to be answers in the world because sometimes it all just feels too big and devoid to take in.
We are trying to understand the world and each other. We seek levity through astro memes and costar app readings. When someone recalls, “Oh, you’re such a Leo!” it is a synonym for “I see you. I recall this detail about you”. There’s a love language in identifying traits in one another, especially the good ones. There’s so much love in reminding people that their intricate details remain a part of your memory too.
Research (that I haven’t read but heard about in passing) says that millennials crave incentives and feeling special and that’s why we love strengths-based assessments and astrology and all that noise. Sure, that might be a part of it. But I think it is also, self-discovery, connection, a flawed compass through a gritty world. We are trying to figure ourselves out and connect with others. And who cares where that comes from? As long as we find it. Frankly, I’d rather find meaning in a zodiac sign that’s mine forever than a job that won’t be mine forever.
This essay does not exist to defend astrology. It’s not about the validity of it. Rather, it’s an exploration of why, at this time, young people are drawn to it. Then again, the incredible thing about the human race is how we always seek the light, always pine for hope, dare to see the stars as storytellers as opposed to burning gas in the distance.