Artist concept of the solar system. | Photo: NASA
Artist concept of the solar system. | Photo: NASA
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If you’re one of those people who scroll through Instagram several times a day, you have mostly likely come across a meme, post, plea or even prayer about ‘Mercury retrograde’. The millennial-favourite astrological phenomenon is fast replacing ‘boomers’ and climate change, as the root cause of everything wrong in everyone’s lives.

For the uninitiated, Mercury retrograde is an apparent change in the movement of the planet Mercury where it appears to move backwards. Just a primer: It’s not an actual astronomical phenomenon, because planets don’t actually backtrack on their orbits. But it has become an avenue for millennials to cry about how hard love, career, relationships, or rather life as we know it, is. This year, the retrograde ‘began’ earlier this month in June, and is scheduled to go on till 12 July.

Millennials are often berated for avoiding exactly how complicated life can be, till it’s literally a life and death situation. Which is why astrology seems to have become a means for millenials to look beyond themselves, and instead identify their problems as a product of extraneous factors. To be fair, when the stars and plants are messing with your life, what can you even do?

But the irony is that the same millennials who looked down on the Boomer generation for their palmistry, Linda Goodman quotes, or their parent’s devotion to what their jyotish said, are now hooked to apps like ThePattern, Sanctuary and Co-star. It’s like Mercury retrograde is for millennials what Feng Shui was to Boomers back in the early 2000s.

Millennials and their moral high ground

“Ok Boomer” may be the catchphrase of the decade, but when one looks at the millennial obsession of looking to the skies to solve life’s problems, their moral high ground is questionable.

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Perhaps, there is something soothing about believing the fact that when the first planet in the solar system fixes its orbit, life can be great once again. Stuck in the middle of a pandemic and dreaming about pre-Covid days, these kinds of irrational affirmations have never looked more attractive.

According to astrologer Chani Nicholas, the millennial obsession with astrology can be attributed to the way astrology tries to “boil down these giant concepts into digestible pieces of knowledge”.

Nicholas explains that today’s generation and their penchant for bite-sized content and memes sets the perfect context for astrology to thrive.

But millennials and Gen-Z kids, don’t pretend this is not just a supposedly cooler version of the jyotish visits you hated as a kid. Or the several palm readings your relatives forced you into, to find out if you are destined for prosperity, a long healthy life, and a good looking future spouse.

Pseudoscience is pseudoscience, even if it is dressed up in catchy memes and pastel Instagram hues.

Also read: Why online astrologers are secretly thanking their stars, Covid, and science-averse Indians

Why Mercury retrograde

But why is Mercury retrograde, in particular, so popular?

According to astrologers, this phenomenon affects everyone fairly uniformly. Which is essentially doublespeak for the idea that if anything goes right, or wrong, in your life, blame Mercury.

Specifically, in astrological tomes, when Mercury is in retrograde communication is severely affected. And guess which generation struggles with communication the most?

Before someone waves the ‘not all millennials’ flag, we can all agree that when people prefer nihilist death memes to actual conversations about thoughts and feelings, there are clearly some communication impediments.

Mercury is also a planet of ‘mind’. So, at least in this period, you can give abusing your boss for your poor mental health a rest. Mercury is your culprit, girl.

When cosmic chaos causes relationship chaos

Let’s be honest, even those who do not believe in astrology, make it a point to furtively glance over the relationship section that gives you predictions like : ‘you will meet your soulmate in the following month’.

But all ye believers, unfortunately Mercury retrograde will not make love bloom. I recommend dating apps, if nothing, they provide excellent entertainment.

Talking about relationships, let’s move to Gen Z. This generation was born into strife, quite literally. Coming to terms with a socially and politically polarised world is no easy task. So, when you don’t understand anything about the chaotic world around you, it is natural to try and look for an otherworldly explanation.

Except that Gen Z went a step further. According to a survey, at least one-third of this generation turns to astrology to seek dating advice. Who will tell them that it’s just a vogue version of kundali matching? If anything, they are definitely making their parents proud.

And in this new generation astrology, everything is upgraded. Confused about how retrograde impacts you? Take a quiz. Need help to cope with the predictions? Scroll through astrology memes on Reddit.

It all may seem very new, but actually it’s all the same, in some sense. Screens have just replaced magazines and dog-eared pamphlets, and the over-all packaging is much shinier. But in the end, all of it is just pseudoscience.

For those who are scoffing at all of this, SIX planet retrogrades are scheduled for this month. The horror, the horror.

Views are personal.

Also read: Firm believer in astrology? But here’s why your zodiac is probably wrong


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