It’s fun to see my facebook-iverse explode with multiple statii about the same topic.
One of the most sociologically interesting examples happened recently when rumors spread through facebook that we all had to play astrological musical chairs.
Yes, it seemed: we had all been following the WRONG arbitrary, un-scientific, bullshit personality assessment assigned according to star positions. People — people who I know don’t believe in this stuff — got really upset by this. And, I have to be honest, it upset me, too.
I did not realize how much I, or how much so many of my friends, had come to see our astrological signs as a stable pillar of our personalities. Is it that? Most of us, I don’t think, wouldn’t say it defines us. And, yet, try to take it away and we get possessive. I feel that, too.
Perhaps it’s nothing more complicated than attachment to something that’s been “ours” for our entire lives. Like family, like your last name, like your hometown, like your childhood home. You may have wanted to get out of, e.g., Iowa Falls, like Lebron James wanted out of Cleveland — but, for someone to say, “You’re not a true Iowan,” that ain’t cool. Ethanol pumps through these veins, buddy.
I think (in large part simply in order to make this post more interesting) that it might go deeper than that, though. As middle-class, American, non-religious, urban-flighty youth, most of my friends and I lack of a lot of stable definers of identity. Tribe has diluted due to the distance of first-generation immigration (not in my case on one side, however) and this big steaming melting pot in which we swim. Most of us have left the strictures of the church. We don’t speak the language of our ancestors (unless we are children of the damned British Imperialists). We’ve lost ties to place, having dug up those corn-based roots and set up shop in various, concrete jungles. Careerwise, mostly gone are the days when people, as my parents did, stay at one job for thirty years, retiring a company man.
You can predict my conclusion, given the above, about why star signs might feel more important than they should. Bullshit though we may believe them to be, they offer a bit of occult, tribal identity. What’s more, they fit these individualistic times quite well — dispensing with the constraints of tribal identification in favor of a personal brand. MY sign.
Perhaps, then, signs matter so much because they are our personal logos. It’s a branded world, after all. Apple has its bitten piece of fruit. Our schools have their mascots. We want one, too.
Imagine if someone tried to take away your personalized iPod. Or, worse, rewrote the “About Me” section on your facebook page. You might get as angry, or more so, as when a rumor tugged you from Gemini to Taurus.
But, anyway…apparently it was all a mistake. We’re all still the same.