I check my Co-Star app every day. I like to pretend that I wait until I get the push notification with my horoscope for the day, but the reality is that I actively go onto my phone each day, open the Co-Star app and read every single line of copy. It’s not something I readily admit to strangers because it sounds…weird…and hokey…and like a bunch of woo-woo mysticism. I’m an educated, relatively analytical, data-driven human who believes in and values rational truths about the world. Or so I’d like to think.
The reality is a lot murkier because I’ve fallen prey to star-signs, astrology and lessons from the cosmos. And it’s not just me, it’s a lot of us. Millennials are obsessed with the messages from the stars. Astrology apps are booming. Venture capital is beginning to take notice and money is pouring in.
I justify this habit by saying that Co-Star is the only astrology app I have on my phone. It’s just one app - no harm, no foul. But when I went to look at my photos to assess all the times I’ve shared ‘my day at a glance’ with someone, it became evident rather quickly that roughly half the screenshots on my phone are related to Co-Star. Either I’ve screenshotted them for myself or I’ve screenshotted them to share. Whatever the reason, I wanted to remember this small digestible nugget of my day at a glance. They’re short. They’re sweet. They’re snippy. They lowkey attack me every day and yet, I keep coming back.
If you want to know more about why I love Co-Star in particular, this interview with their founder Banu Guler is rather illuminating. There are a whole host of theories for why astrology’s having a resurgence. Yes, we live in wild times, but a line from that interview put it rather succinctly:
“Many have attributed the current astrology frenzy to millennials’ desire to talk about themselves at every turn. As Amanda Hess wrote at The New York Times last year, “Astrology checks several boxes for viral-happy content: It provides an easy framework for endlessly personalized material, targets women, and accesses ’90s nostalgia. It’s the cosmic BuzzFeed quiz.”
The grand and beautiful answer for why Co-Star and the like are booming is that we as a generation are on one long continuous and seemingly endless search for meaning - for purpose. For generations before us, religion, family units and local communities provided us with structured support and a source of meaning in our lives. Those institutions aren’t gone, but they’ve certainly eroded, and in their place, we’re seeking something new to fill the void. Sometimes that seeking comes through consumption patterns and our purchases that are meant to have some deeper symbolism. Other times it’s through our work (Employees at WeWork were told it was never about office space, it was about changing the way we work, live, connect. Away wasn’t selling luggage, it was selling travel and adventure). And then other times, it’s through the stars.
We’ve filled our lives with self-care, wellness, protecting our energy, the list goes on. And we’ve done it all in the name of bettering ourselves and though we haven’t said it outright, in the name of bettering our souls. Many of us have moved from home, taken jobs that were supposed to be our calling, filled our weekends with studio fitness and magic elixirs. But somewhere deep down, it’s all falling flat and there’s a pervading emtpiness that seeps into our lives. These apps actually give us something to believe in that’s bigger than this world. It’s bigger than the things we use and consume. It’s in the stars.
Then there’s all the nostalgia. We all know the 90s are having a comeback. Walk anywhere in New York and you’re hit with bootcut or wide leg pants, bucket hats and fanny paks. We’re suckers for anything that reminds us of our 90s childhoods. The nostalgia is so extreme that streetwear brands are actually building Blockbuster popups so you can relive what it felt like to rent Goosebumps on VHS. And so when astrology came back, it was an immediate cue that clicked for our generation. We all remember the horoscopes in the back of teen magazines we voraciously consumed (and that mostly harped on our love lives or lackthereof). Nostalgia’s a funny thing though. We tend to romanticize the past when we’re uncertain about the future. And in some ways, the future has never been more uncertain. The past though? That’s known. That’s something we can cling to and find comfort in. We can consider astrology to be that big, warm comforting dose of nostalgia that tells you: everything’s alright if you just take yourself back to the good old days, to simpler times.
But there’s also the less poetic answer for why astrology is having a moment and it’s that we’re all just narcissists. We love talking about ourselves. We love analyzing ourselves. And we love anything related to self improvement. We’re suckers for it. So now you’ve tied it all together with something that can help us understand ourselves better and create a path for self-improvement? Done. We can’t help it. We were raised in the age of individualism, so if there’s an app out there to help me analyze my inner psyche and then have dinner table conversation about it with my girlfriends, you bet I’m going to engage. It tells me about myself and then lets me talk about myself with the people around me. That sounds right.
So I can reason my way through it. I can rationalize why this app makes sense, but also makes no sense at all. And I don’t think I believe in it, but I also kind of do? And that’s the weird part of it for the rational cynic who can’t help but check my ‘day at a glance’ ritualistically though my brain is pushing back and telling me that none of this is real. I think there are two things at play for me that keep me coming back.
On the one hand, in a world that’s so rational, analytical, data-driven, numbers oriented, etc. etc., that the idea of magic is quite nice. The idea of something being ordained in the stars and existing beyond the realm of our physical world is just a beautiful thought. I can get so caught up in the day to day, heads down at my desk world that this app reminds me of something bigger than myself. It feels like actual magic in a world that’s so predictable and routine.
The other piece though is around control. For a type-A personality like myself who has constantly been obsessed with achieving, it’s actually really overhwelming to feel like everything is always in your control. The amount of agency and autonomy we have in our lives is powerful, but a lot. It might just be me, but there’s something strangely comforting in thinking that some things are just out of my control. Some things are just destiny. Fate. Some things don’t require so much effort. Some things just happen to us and can’t be controlled. That’s not the most empowering thing to say, but it’s also somewhat liberating. If I can’t control it then maybe I shouldn’t worry about it as much. And if I can’t control it then it’s one fewer thing to work on. It’s one fewer thing to stress about. It’s one fewer thing that I can leave to someone else to figure out. And maybe, just maybe, I can actually just let go and let the universe do its thing.
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