Is Our Obsession With Horoscopes A Sinister Sign That Millennials Have Actually Just Given Up?

What does Mercury Retrograde have to do with the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

WTF Friday News Facebook Data Leak Social Media

by Vicky Spratt |
Updated on

This is your weekly instalment of WTF is going on because, these days, a lot can happen in a week…

This week started as they all do. On Monday morning I lay in bed, phone in hand and checking my horoscope as I became increasingly late for work. Armed with the knowledge that it was Aries season (my time to shine), Mercury would enter retrograde mid-week and that I would be feeling sensitive and defensive by the weekend, I left the house.

Typical Aries that I am, once at the office I was thinking big and eager to start a zillion huge projects at once despite knowing full well I'd struggle to complete any of them because, well…I'm an Aries and that is just what we're like.

By lunch I was mostly dreaming of avocados but also worrying about the housing crisis because I'm a millennial. Once in Morrison's, picking up said exotic fruit, I also found myself scanning a packet of Pom Bears and some chocolate soya milk through the self-checkout because I'm an Aries and we are known for being impulsive.

By the time I finally got around to thinking about something other than myself, it was approximately 2pm. There's hope for humanity after all, even a self-absorbed millennial Aries narcissist will eventually reengage with the world around her.

On Monday, that world was mostly talking about the Observer interview with a whistle-blower by the name of Christopher Wylie who blew the lid on disgraced analytics firm Cambridge Analytica who, it transpires, had been harvesting the data of people like you and I all over the world to further the political ends of their clients. It is now known that Cambridge Analytica were able to give Donald Trump's team a data-heavy helping hand and alleged that they also had a hand in Brexit.

Old Etonian Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica who, since the middle of the week, has been suspended from his role quickly came to represent the very lucrative ways in which a privileged few manipulate the majority of us and, quite literally, play politics with our lives. He is, sadly, just the tip of the iceberg however.

Take this guy, Thomas Borwick. He has apparently been able to exploit the tactic of micro-targeting on Facebook as a member of the campaign for Brexit, Vote Leave, and is not reported to be working on the campaign to keep abortion illegal and heavily restricted in Ireland - Save The 8th.

As I sat at my desk pondering the Cambridge Analytica scandal in one Google Tab, phone in hand scrolling past multiple millennial cliché memes on Instagram and itching to google my horoscope again, I wondered when we stopped questioning.

Living out our lives on Facebook and the Facebook owned Instagram and WhatsApp, is barely even worth remarking on these days. It's just normal life. Turning your phone off or deleting one of these apps for a prolonged period of time is now so remarkable that you can get a book deal for writing about it. When did we become so complicit? When did we become so passive? Why did we allow companies owned by one man, Mark Zuckerberg, to claw such a monopoly over our information, our diaries, our friendships? How many of us knew they were collecting and selling our private data but decided we couldn't be bothered to care because there isn't an obvious way of doing anything about it?

Just like the idea that all millennial women are OBSESSED with their horoscope, turning to witchcraft and gorging on avocados at any given opportunity are all examples of received wisdom that really ought to be challenged, the notion that social media is benign and democratic has become dogma because we're all a bit lazy.

Being a sceptic is not easy. It requires work and effort, you have to question and think critically which, I know, is, like, totally exhausting. It's also not fashionable and it doesn't make you particularly amenable. After all, nobody likes the person at the party who points out that most horoscopes are just a bunch of vague generalisations and spurious predictions.

They, and by they I mean journalists and trend forecasters, say that young people love horoscopes because the modern world is so uncertain and chaotic not because we're in the Age of Acquarius but because our politics has seen seismic shifts in recent years which are in no small part down to the digital revolution we've lived through.

Horoscopes provide us with answers at a time when everything feels difficult to pin down. Perhaps that's true, as a generation we're constantly being told who we are and how we behave - we're too lazy to buy houses with money we don't have because we're entitled idiots who spend all of our money on avocados and follow our horoscopes into oblivion.

Are you or I really lazy and entitled simply by virtue of the year we were born in? No, obviously not.

What came first? The perception that millennials are lazy or our reluctance to do any leg work on the things that matter? I don't think we're all totally cool about the fact our data is being hijacked, and yet, we don't seem to be doing much about it. The irony is that as a generation we are actually quite private because we pick and choose what we show the world and what we keep back for DMs or encrypted messages.

**READ MORE: The Debrief Investigates - Hormones And Mental Health **


Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats1 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats2 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats3 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats4 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats5 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats6 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats7 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats8 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats9 of 9

Debrief Mad About The Pill Stats

We need to start questioning again. We need to practice scepticism and challenge received wisdom, particularly when it comes to social media. We have a chance to change the way we interact with the corporations who own our social lives and our ability to connect with our loved ones. We ought to be challenging them and maybe that does mean deleting their apps.

After all, when you click on that horoscope after it pops up on your Facebook feed you can be sure that someone, somewhere, is making money from your behaviour. Is it possible that you're seeing more horoscopes because advertisers and crystal dealers have realised that they can use astrology to get your attention and, ultimately, access to your precious avocado fund?

To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, nothing is absolute. Dogma is very dangerous and the only thing we can be sure of is our own ignorance. But hey, what did he know, that was just his view and you can't really prove philosophy, can you? You just have to follow the signs.

On that note, I've spilled a massive glass of water in my laptop because Mercury's in retrograde right now so I really ought to go and do a sage cleanse.

I wonder if Jean-Paul Sartre had me in mind when he wrote 'she believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist'.

**Follow Vicky on Twitter **@Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us