A recent article for tech and science vertical “oneZero” made the rounds on Medium last week. The author writes about millennials despairing of the expensive housing market.
She says “broke millennials” are taking refuge in a digital fantasy world . Real estate apps and Instagram are a soothing balm for the pain of being “stuck renting.”
But as homeownership becomes less of a reality and more of an illusion, many of us resort to merely imagining ourselves in our own homes via the internet.
She goes on:
Websites like Zillow, StreetEasy, and Realtor.com or real estate-dedicated Instagram accounts like @circahouses or @cheapoldhouses allow many of us to daydream about the security and stability that we could have if we could buy a home.
Already a little sad, the article takes a dark turn from there.
Want to take a terrifying look inside the mind (of at least a sizable minority) of Bernie Sanders supporters? Read this quote in the article, given by “Laura,” a digital strategist in New York. This is a paragon of millennial entitlement:
The only thing that makes me feel less mad about all the pretty houses I walk by that I look up to see I can’t afford is how fugly the interiors are via StreetEasy.
When I see an interesting-looking building, I always look it up. I want to know how much it’s “worth” and how much it has appreciated over time. But also to see what ugly a** s*** the current owners have done with the inside.
Laura seamlessly transitions from fantasizing about being a homeowner to hating on homeowners because she’s not one. Greed is not good. Wall Street greed fueled the bubble that led to the 2008 housing market crash.
But this is greed with something extra. It’s envy, which is even worse than greed. She doesn’t just want the house, she despises the person who has it. And puts “worth” in scare quotes, like she thinks another housing crash would serve them right.
In August, someone suggested on the “Wall Street Bets” subreddit that the middle class “should hope the housing market crashes.” CNN describes the forum as a gathering for people “who lose hundreds of dollars in day– and brag about it.” It has nearly 800,000 “degenerates” (subscribers). A lot of the commenters pushed back. But some agreed:
I have a slew of friends that were in their early 20s that got houses around $100k that are now upwards of $500k. The true middle class won big time.
The middle class still hasn’t completely recovered from the Great Recession .
The rest of the oneZero article is shockingly bleak. It reads like the dreary laments on incel forums. Incels are an Internet subculture of mostly young men who claim to be “involuntary celibates .” They believe love is out of reach for them and they’ve given up on trying. It’s not them, it’s society or “the system” that’s stacked against them.
The millennials in this article seem to consider themselves “inrens,” involuntary renters. (You heard the term here first.) The author writes:
Either way, it’s clear that inequality is having negative effects on millennials’ mental health. And homeownership — the marker of financial and personal success in American society — is a big part of that.
But what if she has cause and effect reversed? What if millennials’ mental health is having a negative effect on their housing market prospects? If some of them worked more and spent less time online daydreaming and complaining, maybe they could save up to live in that dream house for real. Encouragingly, the writer even suggests this:
…the hours many of us spend staring at Zillow listings and dreaming about purchasing one might even be setting us back from achieving it.
Not all millennials are broke.
In 2018, a Bank of America survey found 1 in 6 millennials have saved $100,000 . And having serious student loan debt doesn’t mean the housing market is forever out of reach. A 31-year-old recently paid off her $30,000 student debt , on a $37,000 salary in 2.5 years. A 32-year-old just finished paying off her $100,000 student debt in six years.