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On astrology in an internet age

Ease of access has made it ubiquitous, but might also detract from self-reflection
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MILIDAE CLAIRE UY/THE VARSITY
MILIDAE CLAIRE UY/THE VARSITY

Astrology seems to have overtaken social media: a 2019 survey, for example, found that 49 per cent of Canadians aged 18–34 believe in astrology, and that has certainly crept to online spaces. 

With just a quick search using your birth date and time, you can easily find your entire astrology chart. This ease to access information has left millennials and Gen Zers sharing, talking, and comparing charts on all sorts of platforms. With this surge of threads, posts, and videos, the debate over the credibility and usefulness of astrology has surfaced.

To many, astrology is a pile of lies strung together to entertain people. Astrologists and the weekly horoscope readings in the newspaper are traditionally perceived to be cheap parlor tricks used to attract the bored and naïve. However, astrology is certainly not a new creation used to sell readings. Rather, it has a rich history across the globe. 

Various astrological traditions have been practiced for centuries, with some dating back to the third millennium BCE. It is essentially a spiritual tradition that aims to explain how the positioning of the planets and stars influences our lives. 

Astrology in the digital age, however, has taken on a lighter tone. When scrolling through posts on Instagram or TikTok, avid astrology followers post topics, such as what kind of pasta, dog, or book the different zodiac signs are. Comment sections are filled with people ecstatic over the accuracy or disbelief when they do not get what they expected. And many people scroll through these posts very often. 

The personalized predictions are major aspects of why people love these astrology readings. The information is digestible and fun, and some students turn to it as entertainment. 

Lillian Chao, a first-year student at the University of Toronto, has looked at astrology posts since elementary school: “The posts are entertaining for me and sometimes there are funny comments or descriptions.”

Neruka Joseph, another first-year student, wrote that astrology “works well in a sense that it’s… rather general descriptions that can fit everyone despite it implying a sign is better or worse to different people.” 

However, this ease of access can oversimplify astrology. “Some times [sic] there are too many random posts, it doesn’t mean it’s bad but for me people are treating it like a game,” Chao wrote. 

Joseph added, “People seem to be making it sound less and less legit ― social media posts seem completely random, I don’t think astrology can tell you what your favourite food is.”

For many people, however, this is the astrology they have become familiar with. The rich history of astrology and the complex systems behind it may have become obscured. Astrology on the internet is 60-second TikToks or an Instagram post you quickly scroll past.

But astrology can be more than simple entertainment: it can be a tool for self-reflection. It gives us a moment to take a look at ourselves and better understand our relationship with the world. It is an empowering tool that teaches us the importance of taking a step back to reflect on ourselves, and what we can do to have more fulfilling lives.

While I do not think daily horoscopes will change your life or define who you are, I do think they can lead to personal reflection and healthy change. 

To explore astrology at an in-depth level is to explore yourself and your relations in the world.