Banerjee: Embrace planetary existentialism and hug the stars

Astrology has always been a popular fortune-telling method, but it has become increasingly popular in the past two years. But instead of just being a mindless form of escapism, it can actually positively affect people.



Anna Banerjee, Opinions Columnist

“Deepen your compassion for the messy structures of other humans,” my Co-Star app tells me at 11:12 a.m. on a Wednesday, which is a strange time to receive such a message. I do not know what this means, but I respect and acknowledge it before going about the rest of my day.

Co-Star Astrology is one of the more popular daily horoscope and chart apps currently available, and it recently updated its daily notification process. Instead of sending a cryptic list of emojis supposedly related to your day’s outlook, as it did for months, it now sends an even more cryptic one-liner, which has been notorious on Twitter for its often unsettling or rude messages.

Co-Star, like many things astrology-related, has become the newest social-media meme, which prompts the questions of why is astrology so fun, and why do we care so much about it?

It wasn’t so long ago that astrology was largely out of the public sphere. It has always been a part of our culture but to varying degrees. Millennials have recently taken to it and brought it out of the backs of grocery-store magazines. It is a meme — “the signs as” tweets briefly took over my entire timeline last year — but it is also more.

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There is something very comforting about knowing that the planets will continue to rotate around their axes and leave you with a short blurb about the coming days or months without fail. Especially in a political climate in which it is hard to know what is coming at all. Knowing how planetary movements will affect your job security seems like it is all you can do in the midst of turbulence on every front.

As trends go, it makes sense that we would be attracted to astrology. Unlike other personality tests, it requires no exterior output; it is less malleable, and therefore more knowledgeable. You can’t fool the stars — if they say you’re an emotional mess because of a Pisces moon placement, who are you to dispute that? Its openness of engagement makes it easy to participate: Whether you just know your sun sign, or if you know all your houses, you can get something out of astrology.

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Astrology is also genre-defying. I can check my horoscope on Snapchat, jump to Instagram to see a meme about “Aries szn,” and come to Twitter for a tweet about the signs as types of nonstick pans. None of these are necessary to my life, and I won’t defend the importance of astrology, but it is fun.

Is astrology a science? No, it’s definitely not. But that doesn’t negate how entertaining it can be or the amount of comfort people can receive from it. I do not really know what else I can turn to that has some sort of prediction months out — our own lives are mainly a day-to-day grind, the world isn’t any more set in stone.

Astrology is easy to disregard as something stupid meant for people who don’t care about real issues. But many of the zodiac-obsessed people I know are very active in the material world; we care about world issues and understand that astrology probably can’t explain away every world issue.

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Astrology does, however, give us some type of comfort in the face of everything “real” in the way. Escapism may be the name of the game, but as entertainment goes, a star-based system focused on positive growth and self-reflection seems to be the least offensive out there.

People look to astrology as a means of explaining themselves in the face of a very inexplicable world. Its focus isn’t to spread any negative energy, even if Co-Star’s cryptic and sometimes bold-faced claims seem to suggest otherwise. So get your natal chart out and embrace planetary existentialism.

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