Diamonds, home ownership, beer. “Things millennials killed” was easily the most tedious meme of 2017. Luckily, we can begin the new year with a celebration of the one branch of pseudo-knowledge this beleaguered generation has embraced: astrology. In The Atlantic, Julie Beck explains why an otherwise-skeptical group is happy to take a semi-earnest leap of faith into the world of charts, zodiac signs and, of course, a perennially in-retrograde Mercury.
It might be that Millennials are more comfortable living in the borderlands between skepticism and belief because they’ve spent so much of their lives online, in another space that is real and unreal at the same time. That so many people find astrology meaningful is a reminder that something doesn’t have to be real to feel true. Don’t we find truth in fiction?
In describing her attitude toward astrology, [software engineer Nicole] Leffel recalled a line from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in which the main character, Shadow, wonders whether lightning in the sky was from a magical thunderbird, “or just an atmospheric discharge, or whether the two ideas were, on some level, the same thing. And of course they were. That was the point after all.”
If the “astrology is fake but it’s true” stance seems paradoxical, well, perhaps the paradox is what’s attractive. Many people offered me hypotheses to explain astrology’s resurgence. Digital natives are narcissistic, some suggested, and astrology is a navel-gazing obsession. People feel powerless here on Earth, others said, so they’re turning to the stars. Of course, it’s both. Some found it to be an escape from logical “left-brain” thinking; others craved the order and organization the complex system brought to the chaos of life. It’s both. That’s the point, after all.