Everybody is at least a little bit superstitious. There’s always something not entirely rooted in the cold math equations of physics—something that doesn’t quite make sense to anyone else—that we believe in because it comforts us. Some people wear their lucky underpants to exams, while others don’t walk on cracks in the pavement for fear of bad karma. I, for one, wear the same pair of earrings to every job interview, just in case. For many people, astrology—the study of the movements of celestial bodies and the interpretation of their influence on human affairs and the natural world—is one such belief.
Though people have been studying astrology for hundreds of years, the practice has seen a recent surge in popularity, particularly on women’s lifestyle sites. Thanks to the uncertain times we live in, people are seeking comfort and calm in these gentle fortune-telling practices, so much so that publications such as Refinery29, Vice, and Bustle have dedicated entire verticals to horoscopes; meanwhile, TikTok videos imagining the zodiac signs as smells, eye-makeup looks, and cursed snacks rack up hundreds of thousands of views. There’s a spectrum of belief that everyone falls on in terms of astrology, as well as crystals, tarot cards, and palm readings—some people arrange their futures around their horoscope, some people jokingly keep up-to-date with their sign, and others view them as completely pointless.
There’s an explanation for this: Confirmation bias is often the reason people believe in things like astrology. You’re much more likely to remember the times your horoscope nailed something about your future than the times it wasn’t quite right. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which have recently become booming public industries, also rely on confirmation bias to keep consumers coming back for more. For instance, if something good happens after your horoscope said it would, chances are you’ll keep following along in hopes it happens again; similarly, if investors make a bit of money when the market goes up, they believe it’ll keep going up and net them even more. Though both subscribe to the same promises of great fortune and success so long as you let the uncontrollable forces of probability dictate your life, astrology is sometimes looked down on, while cryptocurrency is heralded as the future of finance. In this way, Bitcoin is astrology—for men.
Only around 15 percent of the Bitcoin community are women, while the remaining members are men who view themselves as the new “wolves of Wall Street,” staking their entire livelihoods on cryptocurrency. Bitcoin works just like any stock: You invest when the market is at a certain price, and you make money if the price increases. To a layman investor, which way the market goes is totally out of your hands, meaning that getting a payout is as based on skill as winning the lottery because your horoscope told you you’d be lucky that month. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 37 percent of adult women in the United States believed in astrology versus only 20 percent of men. Straight guys, however, often fall on the “telling everyone who will listen that it’s made-up bullshit” end of the astrology spectrum.
Katie, a 24-year-old from Falkirk, a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, loves learning about astrology and practicing tarot. “It helps me to be a more insightful, well-rounded, and grounded person,” she says. But when she mentions her interests to straight men, they either “outright laugh in your face” or “you’re met with a rant about how silly it is to think you can know someone from their ‘horoscope,’ followed by a lengthy, mansplainy explanation as to why astrology and tarot are ridiculous and you’re an idiot to believe in it.” If cishet guys like something, it’s automatically deemed the epitome of cultural capital, whether it’s beer and sports or cars and war. All the while, boy bands, the color pink, and other aspects deemed “feminine” are considered less worthy—the Twilight series, One Direction, and rom-coms are all incredibly financially successful, but they’re perceived as trashy because teenage girls love them.
The exact type of guy who looks down on interests such as astrology tends to be a different kind of believer, one who is equally as reliant on the fates: a Bitcoin bro. Not every man, and not even every man who is interested and invested in cryptocurrency, is a Bitcoin bro. In fact, a Bitcoin bro is a very specific breed: He reads The 4-Hour Work Week every night before bed like it’s the Bible, he follows inspirational entrepreneur accounts on Instagram, he eats (drinks?) Huel for every meal. He checks the stock prices before he goes to sleep and right after he wakes up. He has his whole net worth on Coinbase. He lives and breathes by the thrum of blockchain. Most importantly, he thinks he’s going to get very, very rich. If I lived my life according to astrology, I would’ve resigned from my job at least eight times by now. However, Bitcoin bros can have a much greater impact on their finances and the lives of those close to them.
The exact type of guy who looks down on interests such as astrology tends to be a different kind of believer, one who is equally as reliant on the fates: a Bitcoin bro.
While people have hit the jackpot as Bitcoin prices skyrocket, some investors have also lost huge sums of money because of their loyalty to a financial seesaw that could crash at the drop of a hat. People are also vulnerable to falling prey to scams and fakery, with some losing their life savings to fake apps posing as secure crypto-investing platforms. Even legitimate trading technologies have developed glitches that led some Tesla customers, who believed they were paying via Bitcoin, to send their entire payment into the void—losing all $100,000 of it. While it may be culturally perceived as much higher brow, this sort of blind reverie for the crypto market is just as foolish as getting a divorce because Venus is in Taurus. Not to mention that while astrology and other “lowbrow” interests are generally harmless to everyone but the user, Bitcoin’s environmental implications are terrifying. Bitcoin mining now consumes 0.6 percent of the world’s total electricity production, more than the entirety of Norway.
Mark,* my own resident Bitcoin bro, invested every penny he owned into Bitcoin last year. He is one of the lucky ones: The $11,000 he spent on one whole Bitcoin has grown to roughly $60,000 six months later. “I just feel like it’s worth the risk,” he says. “I believe the price of a single Bitcoin is going to hit $250,000 in one to six years. My exit plan is to retire on it. Companies like PayPal have recently been buying everything that is being mined, and that’s just going to keep increasing the price. You’d be a fool not to buy.” Things go the wrong way sometimes, especially if you get your advice from an untrustworthy source. Bitcoin bros mock people who use fortune-tellers and get palm readings but trustingly take financial advice from random corners of the internet; Reddit forums filled with amateur traders swapping tips rack up millions of members. As with astrology and other mystical practices, investing in crypto is fun to do in moderation, and with a good pinch of perspective of the big picture.
To get into anything too deep, be it culturally in vogue or not, is to lose control of your own life to the tides of probability. And while that has the potential to make you rich and famous, it could just as easily dash you and all you have against the rocks. Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies are a fascinating emerging market, and they have a lot of potential in the future of finance. However, with the lack of market regulation and their vulnerability to scams, investors should tread carefully so as to not lose everything from a stray click or a mere spontaneous crash caused by an ill-timed Elon Musk tweet. In the same way, people who are passionate about astrology, tarot, and other mystic arts should take their predictions with a grain of salt and avoid jumping into decisions because their cards fell in a certain way. Ultimately, the future is unknown for all of us, and we have no idea what’s waiting around the corner, with one exception: The future evolution of Bitcoin bros will always look down on the interests of women and queer people, despite them being parallel in many ways. Classic Sagittarius behavior.