Friday, April 22, 2016

Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari

Modern RomanceI'm not entirely sure why I read this book, other than a coworker said it was good.  I'm not really in the "romance" market right now, having been in a relationship for four years and not planning to end it any time soon, and the world of "modern romance," involving sexting, Tinder, online dating, and so on, which is what a lot of this book covers, has never really been something that intrigued me.  But the concept in general as interesting enough, I guess, because I saw it at the library and picked it up...though this probably isn't something I would have gone out and purchased.

In Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari, or someone ghostwriting much of it for him (I'm always so skeptical about books written by celebrities; not that they actually could write a book, because why wouldn't they be able to, but that they actually had the time to write a full book instead of just signing off on it and maybe putting a few touches here and there.  Maybe this is unfair of me, but I can't seem to shake it.) examines how romance has changed in "modern" times, basically since the rise of the internet and the smartphone.  It's a surprisingly academic work, undertaken with the help of some big focus groups and some scientists of various disciplines (who, interestingly, do not have their names on the cover).  They look at what romance was like for the generations who grew up and married before the internet and smart phones and online dating and the phenomenon known as "emerging adulthood" and how that has changed since all of those things came about, and to some degree how romance works in other places around the world, too.  They look at how we find partners, how we get in touch with partners, and so on, all the way to the "settling down" portion.  Along the way, they go to Tokyo and Buenos Aires and Paris, and even briefly Doha, to look at dating in those places, too.  But much of the focus is on how our phones have become so entangled in our love lives.  There were some interesting points here but nothing that I thought was really, really groundbreaking; I think if you thought through most of these things on your own, you'd come to the same conclusions, and the conclusions are basically what you'd expect.

Ultimately, the conclusion seems to be that finding your "soulmate" is now the desirable thing, rather than someone you can just be happy with, which was a thing in many of our parents' generations, and that there are a lot more choices now because the digital world has opened up and allowed us to connect with so many more people in so many new ways, and that can make the search for a "soulmate" even harder than it would initially seem.  There are some funny quips throughout this, but it is definitely not a humor book on the whole, so if you're looking for a comedy book here, you'll be disappointed.  Also, there were a few bits that I could have done without, like Ansari recounting the experience of using a Japanese masturbation toy.  I get it, people masturbate, it's healthy, blah blah blah.  That doesn't mean I want to read about someone I don't know doing it in more detail than I really felt comfortable with.  I'm never going to be able to watch Parks and Rec without thinking about that now.  It's ruined it for me.

Overall, I'd shelve this book as "mildly interesting but not compelling."

2.5 stars out of 3 for sheet interest level.

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