Lie still, I told myself. Breathe in and out. Maybe Brad will think you are asleep and then you can get up and get online.
I wasn’t getting online to look at porn. I wasn’t carrying on illicit conversations with my no-tell lover. I was simply burning to get back online to look at houses on Realtor.com.
That’s when I knew I had a problem. It wasn’t a problem with the idea of moving again. In our military family, we’ve moved 15 times. Moving is what we do.
But this particular online real estate lust was nagging at me. It kept reminding me of a service member I had once interviewed for an article about pornography. The guy would get up from his bed, from his warm sheets, from the side of his living, breathing, satin-skinned wife and sneak out of his bed to look at porn online.
At the time, I thought that was insane. What kind of person would do that? What kind of person would feel so compelled? I guess if we’re talking about wood floors, fireplace and a sign that screams “Bring all offers,” I would. I ain’t proud.
Since the last time we looked at houses, the amount of information available online has exploded. On Realtor.com I can find every house in a certain area in my price range. If you haven’t moved lately, you gotta know that I’m not talking about a listing of every 4 bed/2 bath/eat-in kitchens in northern Virginia. Instead they have a dozen pictures of each house. Virtual tours. Floor plans. Satellite photos that show the nearest strip mall. Exact distances to the Pentagon and the local Target.
I’ve spent so much time online I can now tell if a real person lives in the house or whether this was a house somebody flipped. I recognize the signs that someone has been watching “Designed To Sell.” I get a little zing every time I go to to find out how much the sellers paid for their house.
It isn’t just the house itself that obsesses me, either. I can get on and compare test scores for different high schools and read testimonials from parents and students. I can find out which high schools have Lacrosse teams and what their records were last year. I can look at team pictures and try to figure out whether my kid is tall enough to play. I can Google the coach to see if he was ever arrested.
I search and search. It feels like a good thing. It feels like I’m helping my family. I even feel like a good parent when I’m brushing the kids off to get their own snacks, go watch TV, leave me alone because I’m online, by golly. I’m finding out all the information I’ll need to make an informed decision and make our lives better.
Am I really? I tell myself I am. Then I hear that pornography addict in my head telling me that being online was so addictive because you can tailor the kind of information you take in to exactly suit your tastes. That there is always the lure of more. That you are always certain that the next thing is going to be the perfect thing.
It’s easy to fall into that trap during a move. We crave control during an uncontrolled time. While information about houses and schools and neighborhoods does help us make a better decision, at some point we have to know that there is a line where a reasonable amount of information has been collected — and the rest is real estate porn.