Every one of us engages on a journey to find love and companionship. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection and truly love. This journey seems fairly standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago…. Some of our problems are unique to our time. ‘Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?’ ‘Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos!!?’
I think most of us know Aziz Ansari from either his role as Tom Haverford on the brilliant Parks and Recreation or for his stand-up comedy. However, it is his latest project, Modern Romance, that brings us here today.
Much of his last comedy special (sadly only available on Netflix) focused on how technology has changed dating, for better or worse. During the show, he invites a brave audience member to the stage in order to share the text messages they were exchanging with someone they were interested in dating. Often, those exchanges started as flirting, fun messages but most quickly fizzled out to nothing. These interactions plus his own dating ups and downs led to this book.
He smartly paired with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, a professor at NYU, and dove into a year-long research expedition. They interviewed people around the world – New York City, Los Angeles, Wichita, Monroe (NY), Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, and Doha. The participants, from young singles to residents in an assisted living apartment building, are incredibly honest about their experiences and offered glimpses into their text messages, online dating profiles, and e-mails. They also developed essentially a massive online focus groups with forums on reddit. Beyond all of these primary sources, they worked with a number of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and journalists (whew!) who have spent their careers studying dating and relationships.
It’s legit research. And beyond that, incredibly interesting to explore how the culture of dating has changed so much over the past forty or so years. We’ve moved from marrying the guy from across the street to hoping someone normal answers our newspaper ad to swiping left or right on phone apps. Ansari makes the information easy to digest and entirely relatable, as he offers his own experiences dating through his twenties and meeting his current girlfriend.
— Jess, modern romantic
Bonus Aziz: His interview with Freakanomics Radio about the book.