The act of manifestation has taken over Gen Z landscape as thoroughly as, well, TikTok. A cursory search on the platform reveals reams of clips using the hashtag “Manifestation” amassing over 5 Billion views, and why wouldn’t they, the mechanic is simple, and can be reductively summarised as “Think it, get it”.
This week’s 52INSIGHTS looks into the rise and rise of manifestation, and asks why have Gen Z embraced it...
What IS Manifesting?
Put simply, it's the belief that “The Power of Positive Thinking” can bring you whatever you want, and that by just thinking hard enough, you can will things into your life. Desired manifests can range from getting a crush to text back, or getting the house of your dreams.
“Am I the only one who looks at, like, million dollar houses and acts like they’re moving tomorrow? Where am I gonna go? I be acting like I have everything packed. I literally have like two dollars, and three pennies and like a tissue on the side. Zillow be looking real cute at three in the morning,......... it’s called ✨manifestation✨.” - Daniel Campo, TikToker
The idea of bringing a vision, idea, or dream from your mental space into your physical reality isn’t a new one. Millennials remember it coming to life as Rhond Byrne’s multimillion selling “The Secret”. But Gen Z are only discovering the concept now and they are grabbing it with both hands.
In the 12 months of 2020, Google searches for the term have skyrocketed by 669 percent and this shows now signs of slowing. It’s used as a genuine tool by many but is also a buzzword that has replaced the notional use of “Wishing for..” or “Praying for…” in online conversations in a tongue in cheek way.
But for every Gen Z-er using it playfully there are more using it genuinely with a solid belief that The Law Of Attraction will get them what they want. So far, so ...magical thinking, but the idea that our thoughts alone can alter reality predates even Rhonda Byrne. The Law of Attraction was born out of the New Thought movement of the 19th century, and versions of manifestation can be found in parts of Judaism and Buddhism.
Why are youth manifesting?
The reason Gen Z has taken such a firm hold of manifestation . For young people today their near and far future is uncertain, so the upswing in manifestation practice could very well be a generation robbed of freedom trying to take agency over their lives back in any way possible. This is a way of trying to take control, a direct counter-action to uncertainty,
In a way neer seen before, liberties and rites of passage were withdrawn beyond the control of a generation coming of age so in the absence of any outlet to amend this, why not turn to magical thinking?
For those with a highly developed woo-woo radar (or a cynical allergy to anything that veers into the overly spiritual, away from the scientific or logical), we empathise, but logically, if we regard “manifesting” as focusing our energy towards achieving something, it stands to reason that if we direct all our attention on one goal, it is much more likely to be achieved. When viewed through that lens, the concept sounds much more like “work hard, get results” than “ask the universe and you shall receive”.
How is it coming to life?
TikTok, Instagram and YouTube have an array of self-styled manifestation influencers like piscesdoll who claims to have manifestation down to a fine art.
Manifesters have various methods, some incorporating crystals, moonlight or numerology. Some place a lot of importance in writing down the manifestation.
I believe it's putting something out into the universe because you want something to happen. There’s lots of different ways you can manifest. YOu can talk something into existence if you act like something has happened, for example if I wanted to pass my driving test, I’d say “I’ll pick you up after i’ve done it”. You talk about it as if it has happened. Anna, 19
It’s interesting to note that the trend for manifestation comes very hot on the heels of the astrology boom that came to prominence in about 2019. Although according to some, the new astrology was a bad self-help version of the old one, with some even saying that it was a symptom of the rise in anxiety experienced by young people today.
In a generation that are more likely than any before them to claim to be atheist, is manifestation just a rebranding of good-old fashioned prayer? Perhaps not, as this blog claims “praying is asking the universe, manifestation is TELLING it”. Manifestation places the agency not in the hands of a deity, but a nameless universe that the manifester is allegedly manipulating themselves. Reassuring thought patterns in a world that’s liable to change at any turn.
Listen, learn and deliver… Young people have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic - they are enduring the biggest disruption in modern history of their education, a surge in unemployment and the psychological effects of lockdown isolation. They are up up against a challenging mix of mental health, economic and social impacts resulting in a bleak sense of today and an uncertain future. ‘Manifesting’ is a way to cope with the uncertainty - all you need to do is listen, learn and deliver - how can you work to deliver on their manifestations?