The internet is for [property] porn


There’s a song in the puppet musical Avenue Q, which recently toured Ireland, called ‘The internet is for porn’. They should’ve adapted it for Ireland, because it seems our national obsession – no, not drink – has returned with a vengeance, in the vanguard of ‘The Recovery’™. The internet is for property porn. It’s back.

A feature in a national newspaper on one house in Cork City recently ran to six pages. My neighbour tells me the house includes a swivelling platform for cars, something most people with difficulty reversing out the driveway each morning would love. But then again, if you can afford a swivelly platform thing, you can probably afford one of those cars that tells you when you’re within inches of an obstacle at any angle. It has terraced lawns, sloping down to the River Lee, it has a ‘gracious entrance’, it has… it has everything, really. Everything you don’t have, and probably never will have because it’s on sale for €3.8m. It’s The Recovery™, stupid!

My neighbour told me all about it because she reads the property pages religiously. She’s not buying anything. She just likes looking at other people’s houses. She and her kids choose one each Saturday from the property pages and inform her husband they are buying it.

Other national newspapers have recently started doing video tours of the grand old homes that are for sale, mainly in salubrious areas of Dublin. I’ve recently seen the inside of Ryan Tubridy’s house (smashing) and there was no such tackiness as a ‘stars of Montrose’ bus tour needed to get me there. Forget shouty tourbus guides with microphones that never work and stupid hats. This is classy.

Of course we all know The Recovery™ isn’t affecting most of us, really. There are still a lot of people jobless, on pay freezes and paying more than ever for services that are disintegrating, bit by bit.

Are you still there? Yes? Well, good. Because here’s the thing. Poverty is really, really boring.

We are sick of talking about it. We are sick of living it. We are sick of making do, of bringing our lunches to work and making our own coffee and wearing our old coat and repainting furniture that really should be on the tip. We’ve done, or pretended to do, vintage, crafting, upcycling. You name it, if it’s shoddy and a really trendy way of making something old and rubbish and not fit for purpose pretend to be better than it is, we’ve tried.

It’s been five years. Five years of pretending you like that orange pine bedside locker your mother got with Super Valu tokens in 1995, smeared in chipped ‘distressed’ paint.

It’s time to shout ‘stop’, which you would, if you weren’t so busy flicking through the Daft app on your phone to see how much your house is worth compared to the one for sale down the road and buying things you can’t afford, just because you are so sick of not buying things.

While sociologists and mental health professionals are busy talking about the growing phenomenon of addiction to online betting, they’ve completely missed this one.

Property porn. You can get it everywhere now; in print, online, on your phone. People who gambled big pre-recession, but had to go cold turkey for a while in the UK, are now back and gambling again (hello, Celtic Tiger developers).

And, just like the €2 each way on a nag during Cheltenham, or the recession’s famous ‘lipstick’ effect, this is a gig everyone can – well, has to – get in on, some way. We all have some kind of stake in it, whether it’s an exorbitantly priced room in Ranelagh or a negative equity four bed semi in Ratoath. I’m never going to live in the gold-plated apartment (really, gold plated! It’s online – google it) apartment recently vacated by Joan Rivers. It doesn’t hurt to look.

Much like real porn, though, nobody ends up very satisfied. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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