Because one of my favourite 365 Rules about Real Estate is that you cannot buy a house on the internet, I have been following this Ashley Madison story with great interest.
Let me explain.
Of course you know, I’m a working Realtor. I have been for quite some time. And just like when you buy a new Mini Cooper, you suddenly spot every other Mini Cooper on the road. Or when your wife is pregnant, suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere you look. Somehow we are programmed to see things that are top of mind. I suppose there is something still lodged somewhere deep in our hypothalamus from when we were hunter-gatherers. When I watch movies on Netflix, I notice the houses, the living room furniture, and the curb appeal of the front yard. It is human nature.
It is the nature of the business.
So, with so much real estate information out there in the media, in glossy magazines and on Reality TV mostly, and more and more online, on sites like dwell, House Beautiful and pintrest, to name three of thirty (or 300), and much of it fake, half true and/or misleading, as the Ashley Madison story developed we got to see more and more similarities between a website that encourages married people to cheat on their spouses and real estate as entertainment.
Flip this house, Holmes on Homes, and Property Brothers to name three of thirty (or 300) are entertainment. Ashley Madison is essentially entertainment too.
First the story. Ashely Madison gets hacked.
In case you haven’t been following it, here’s the story.
Last month, North America’s most prominent dating site for cheating spouses gets hacked. Millions of users private information is stolen. The stolen data includes names, photos, credit card information, and sexually explicit chat logs. (That’s entertainment.)
“What are you wearing?”
“What are you wearing?”
“You go first.”
“No you go first.”
“Are you wearing something naughty…?”
The hackers objected to Ashley Madison’s morally dubious business model and tried to blackmail the site into shutting down. Ashley Madison, of course could not comply. We do not negotiate with terrorists. They have taken the money. They are operating a million dollar website. They want to float an IPO. They want to advertise during the Superbowl.
I’m not a fan of vigilante justice. A couple of years ago, Anonymous was shutting down sites left and right. A bank here. A small government there. The FBI. They attacked WordPress for crying out load. This blog got hacked. What did I do to deserve a hack? Nothing. I just write about real estate (mostly).
Maybe they have a grammar and punctuation nazi on staff, a specialist on run-on sentences and mixed metaphors and ideas piling up like traffic coming into Mumbai, Taipei and Toronto to name three of thirty (or 300).
Just like some fanatical religious group cannot blow up a 3,000 year old antiquity on moral grounds, some Flaming Moe righteous hacker group cannot extort an objectionable website where (in theory) cheating spouses can link up for some side fun.
That’s not how society works. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Blackmail is bad business.
So Ashley Madison didn’t comply, the hackers did as they said they would do and released the data stolen.
Here’s where the story gets more interesting
Here is where the story gets more like real estate entertainment for the average newbie, house-hunter, first-time home seller, soup-to-nuts real estate pedestrian.
After the data is released, it turns out that many of the female profiles on the site are fake. The site is a scam with, at best, 85% men and 15% women boarding on for potentially meaningless encounters, morally questionable behaviour and consequential unproductive judgement. I can’t put it any better than this report did:
What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.
I stand and bow in your general direction sir, for some extra-fine writing.
Life a short. Have an affair
Ashley Madison, it appears is not selling what it claims to sell – affairs. It is really selling fantasy. Just like extreme sports are for the foolhardy and election advertising is for the uninformed, most of the stuff on TV, radio, in newspapers and on the internet is just entertainment. Stolen data is serious business. The rest of it is all roadside attractions and and wayside distractions that we might glance at on the way by.
Let’s talk about TV
My mom’s dog watches TV. When animals come on, it barks and barks. The dog knows it’s not real (or it’s really dumb). It just like to bark and bark, I think. It is a fantasy pastime for the dog until he can bark at real things. Real estate Reality TV is selling fantasy too. I don’t watch it, but I’ve seen it. Shows like: Sell this House, House Hunters and Extreme Makeover. They are all fantasy. We know they are, but we do like to watch, some of us anyway.
You can look at three houses and buy one.
It takes half an hour to buy a house.
Real estate agents regularly make five and six-figure commissions.
The house will sell at an open house.
You need professional help to stage a house.
Most homebuyers look at somewhere between ten and thirty houses before they buy one.
It usually takes weeks or months to find and buy a house.
Real estate agents make four-figure commissions.
Most homes sell after agent showings.
You only need common sense to stage a house
To sum up, I’m not condoning the action of the Ashley Madison wanna-be-cheaters. They are passionate fools and fools for passion. They are people believing what they want to believe (like my mom’s dumb dog).
At the end of the day though, its all entertainment really. We all should know this. It’s too easy. It is dumbed down, like simplified Chinese, a lot of people understand it, (but none of them are us).
Whoever we are
Wherever we’re from
We shoulda noticed by now
Our behavior is dumb
— Frank Zappa
From Dumb All Over (a little ugly on the side)