This is a brilliant new roadmap of romance in the digital age, presented by actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, who you may know from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Ansari teams up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to discover how communicating through smart phones and social media are affecting a generation of digital natives. What are the subtle pleasures, problems, and stresses associated with things like online dating, using texting as the primary dating communication, and creating profiles designed to “sell you”on match.com? How has smart phone technology affected the seedier side of love life like sexting, infidelity, and breakups via Facebook?
From long lasting monogamous relationships to casual sex, Ansari and his research crew do a fine job of highlighting the romantic landscape today as compared to generations ago when you were more likely to marry the boy down the street. Having a whole world of possibilities at your fingertips is a huge advantage to that scenario, or is it? Does it create more anxiety and higher expectations for finding your ‘soulmate?’ Is the tyranny of choice creating more stress over too many options and actually creating less satisfaction… ‘hmmm, this is good, but might there be something I missed still out there?’
Being a comedian, Ansari is frank and funny. He does use some rude language to get laughs but that didn’t bother me. His humour helps with what could be awkward conversations about intimate issues. The book is entertaining and insightful–a timely and thoughtful cultural study from a sharp comedic voice. Geared to the 25-40 set, I think it also has value for older folks who complain about “those kids always on their phones.” Every generation has its own stuff to deal with and understanding, not judgement, is key.
Here is the author’s essay in Time which gives a great overview of the main points.