Comedian Aziz Ansari has been doing stand-up for years and he often has bits in his act that have to do with the modern age of romance. Collaborating with Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at NYU, Ansari takes an investigative look into how people meet each other now versus even as recent as 10-15 years ago.
This was a fascinating read, and it made me incredibly grateful that online dating wasn’t as prevalent (in my circles at least) a mere 9 years ago when I was single. Don’t get me wrong, sites existed but there didn’t seem to be as big of an emphasis on it then. There was no Tinder and not as much social media presence to let potential dates creep you beforehand. It was a simpler time back then. Though, I’m sure many may disagree, that the abundance of choice and opportunities at your fingertips may make it easier to find your mate. This is why you need to read this book. Ansari scientifically researches with interviews and focus groups whether this modern way of romancing is actually “better”, or “worse” for finding love.
I also enjoyed that he took the research on the road, not just looking at North America’s approach to online dating but visiting Japan, France and Argentina as well. All across the world, men and women interact differently with each other both in person and online. From looking at a very hyper-sexual culture to the extreme opposite where they are not interested whatsoever, Ansari gives an interesting and more well-rounded look at modern romance across the continents.
Modern Romance takes some of the bits that Ansari has done in his stand-up tours through the years and develops it. The book does recount some of these stories, and it backs up the ideas with studies and graphs. I liked the look into which profile photos work, and how they differ between guys and girls. The drastic difference in number of messages that women vs men receive, on a scale of attractiveness, is an interesting look as well. Funny enough, a similar idea was discussed in Dataclysm, a book I read earlier this year by Christian Rudder, and of which Ansari quotes from. Yet in that case, I felt Rudder’s delivery was too heavy on the information dump and I couldn’t get into it. (Among other reasons.) Ansari made something that potentially could have been overwhelmingly data heavy be interesting and humourous. He infuses the cheekiness and earnestness that he’s known for in his comedy making for an informative and entertaining read.