Hi, I'm Chris, and I'm a Scorpio.
Does that matter to you?
There are many ways life has changed from the time when I was young (if you weren't born yet in the '80s, just imagine it being a lot like "Stranger Things," but without the monsters) to now, and I'm pretty hit-and-miss as far as how I've adapted to those changes. The Internet has proven very useful, as has my smartphone, and HD television. But I'd still rather shop at brick-and-mortar stores than go Christmas shopping at my computer, I'd rather a cashier handle my groceries than run them through a scanner myself, and "Spotify" sounds like something you'd use to get out stains — one listens to music on a compact disc, thank you very much.
But one of the more surprising changes that I still haven't gotten used to is the swell of interest in astrology.
When I was young, it was something cheesy, something you'd lampoon. The stuff of aging hippies who had never quite climbed out of the old VW bus, so to speak, or lounge lizard lotharios approaching women in discos and asking, "Hey baby, what's your sign?"
That's the impression I got of astrology from mass media in my formative years, so it's the impression that has stuck.
So I have still not adjusted to the fact that I know a lot of very smart, very rational individuals — typically younger than myself, since I'm right on the border age-wise between Gen X and Millennial (I consider myself the former) — who buy into this stuff. Every time I hear someone talk about it in an unironic way, I'm surprised.
It's not that I'm opposed on principle to all things supernatural or metaphysical or beyond the realm of cold, hard science. I believe in God, I'm a Christian, I think it makes sense that there is a creator to the universe who exists outside of what we can understand naturally. I'm down with the idea of ghosts, perhaps as imprints of human emotional energy left behind in the physical world. I'm even willing to say there might be a Bigfoot or a Loch Ness Monster out there, maybe. Cryptozoology is fun.
But I gotta say, I draw the line at rocks in space influencing my personality or telling me what's going to happen this week.
Maybe that's hypocritical of me. But that's how I see it.
When life sucks, it's because people are selfish by nature or our bodies are wearing down on us, not because Mercury is in retrograde or tardigrade or passing grade, whatever it is. If someone acts a certain way, it's because of a combination of genetics and environment, not because of when they were born.
That's what I say, anyway. I bet many of you out there feel differently.
So why have things changed? I've read a lot of articles with titles "Why have millennials embraced astrology?" and haven't really found a great answer yet.
My theory is that this is a generation that likes to be categorized. A generation that was raised on a series of books where a magical sorting hat would assign young wizards into one of four houses — everyone you meet who's read a "Harry Potter" book has an adamant opinion on whether they'd be a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff, a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin. In fact, most of the young adult literature of the past however many years has focused on labeling people (District 12! Divergent! Werewolves vs. sparkly vampires!). We see a preference for belonging to collective groups instead of emphasizing the individual in social trends and political issues. We even embrace our generations more than most — I hear way more people assert themselves as Millennial as opposed to Baby Boomers or Generation X than similar boasts when I was younger.
But maybe I'm way off track there. After all, I didn't have Harry Potter when I was young, but I did have Rebels vs. the Empire, or Joes vs. Cobra. More militaristic, perhaps, but group identities just the same.
Not that much different from being a proud Gemini, Leo, or Libra.
And if I'm going to be open to ghosts and Bigfoot and aliens, maybe I should grant that it's possible there's some reason we don't yet officially understand behind the stars influencing our personalities at birth. It's hubristic to rule anything out completely, as we are never done learning about the universe we live in. After all, I've had people tell me I'm as scorpy a Scorpio as they've ever seen, and based on what I've read about that set of traits, I can see why. I don't accept it. But I do see myself in it.
The skeptic, of course, would say that's the trick. Throw together a list of personality traits, and everyone will find something in there to strongly identify with. Our perceptions of ourselves are usually skewed to begin with; we see what we want to believe. We all think we're interesting, passionate, complex people, because why on earth would we want to believe otherwise?
But hey. If you want to read your horoscope or get bummed out when something-or-other is in retrograde, or USDA grade, or whatever it is, and that helps you make sense of the world, I shouldn't complain. The world is a big, scary, unrelenting place. We all do what we can just to get by. If you can make a lick of sense out of it by hook or by crook, you're doing better than I am most days.
Just don't hold my sign against me. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not a Scorpio, I'm a Chris. And we're pretty all right, I think.