Fake it Till You Make it: Zillow and Growing Up


Jaden Cottorone, Editor-In-Chief of the Arapahoe Herald Magazine

I presume that most sane people my age use Zillow to browse their fantasy homes. Houses that they know they may never obtain, but add flavor to their daydreams; 3 car garages, pools, a home theater and the likes. I, on the other hand, search Zillow only under strict and calculated filters based on my projected income and monthly expenses. (And sometimes I check the “in-unit laundry” button if I’m feeling wild.) I dig deep. I compare costs, utilities, parking… I analyze every countertop, every closet, every window again and again, and if a place really wins me over, I’ll signify it with a little virtual heart. 

Zillow is now in my top 5 apps when it comes to screen time. Last week I spent 4 hours on the Zillow app, and an additional 30 minutes on SpotAHome (like Zillow, but for Europe!) That is nearly 5 hours total that I have spent apartment or house hunting for an apartment or house I do not need as an 18 year old HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT!!! 

My Zillow addiction is simply one part of a much greater problem. Not only have I been checking Zillow 100 times a day, I’ve been on job boards and LinkedIn, applying the same little heart to tech jobs that I’m not near being qualified for yet depending on how much I like their benefits and culture. 

It’s as if I’ve built myself a time machine! Eureka! I’m currently living in my own little cyberspace as my 25 year old self. I’m out of college and looking for a desk to work at and a pad to crash on. And god, it’s stressful! There’s a rush of adrenaline that comes with seeing a potential apartment or job, followed by a major crash when I remember I can’t live that life yet. I feel I may have permanently spiked my blood pressure through this rollercoaster effect. Ultimately, spending time on these apps is just hurting my mental health, so why do I crave it so much? 

I think I spend so much time realistically fantasizing about my life in a few years because right now, I’m not as happy as I thought I would be. I’m dealing with the transition into adulthood. My friends are moving away, my nephew is growing up, my parents are getting older and my bank keeps sending me letters about changing my account because “I’m 18, congrats!!” Not to mention the worldwide pandemic. Coming of age feels even harder when you haven’t been able to sit on the same couch as your grandparents since last year, or when you can’t throw a big celebration for your 18th birthday, or when you know you won’t get a prom, or graduation. 

I’m thinking ahead, because ahead is hope. It’s breaking free of this dismal mess. It’s feeling like a normal young adult. It’s wishing I could have a solid plan. 

As mentioned before, living in the future has its consequences. Many psychologists and Buddhists alike would agree that not being present can impact your health negatively. In mindful culture, it is recognized that the future and the past are out of our control –it is only the present that we can make a difference. There is no purpose to obsessing over what I will or will not be able to afford, or do, when that is still unknown by the universe itself. 

After a little meditation and a killer blue light headache, I’ve finally decided to delete all property and job searching apps off of my phone, and I’ve vowed to keep it that way until I actually need them. If I am coping with the potential of losing my friends or my family getting older, then I should spend my time in those feelings. I should cherish the late night drives to Dutch Bros with my friends and when my nephew invites me to play trucks with him. Rather than calculating how much I might pay for rent, I should ask my parents about their first apartments or my grandparents about the first house they bought together. By hiding in my screen, I was letting the few good moments in this unprecedented time pass me by. 

Since deleting the apps, I feel a sense of relief and peace. I will lose it if I receive one more letter from my bank, though.