Today I am going to be chattin’ about a little bookie-book called Modern Romance. To preface this post: I soooo badly wanted to do the entire thing as an Aziz Ansari/Tom Haverford impression but that would’ve been a huge commitment on my end and I’m just not sure I’m ready for something like that. But, I couldn’t entirely spare you from my own standup material, so buckle up because…
Now, if you read last week’s Monday Musing, you’ll know I enjoyed this book. But I couldn’t resist an opportunity to break it down for you even further, and maybe even get a little p-p-p-personal with it. This book really has everything. I’m talking humor, I’m talking human interest stories, I’m talking photos, I’m talking embarrassing anecdotes, I’m talking masturbation devices (I’m looking at you, Japan), I’m talking cold hard facts, I’m talking international travel, I’m talking… okay, I’ll stop but I could keep going.
In short, Aziz partnered up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg and studied modern dating cultures in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles, Wichita, and Monroe, as well as: Paris, France, Doha, Qatar, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Tokyo, Japan. They compared the current dating conditions in the United States today to that of yester-year and, across those different cultures. And man, does Tokyo have some WEIRD stuff going on.
One of the most significant takeaways from this book was the shift in views about marriage. We’ve moved from a society of companionate love marriage to a society obsessed with the idea of a soul mate. Ansari points out that, “a century ago people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after they decided neither party seemed like a murderer, the couple would get married and have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-two. Today people spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.” Ansari explores the basis of this shift in thinking noting that a major culture change can be attributed to people now-a-days get married relatively later in life. We choose to spend more time enjoying adulthood i.e.: college, traveling, and moving out on our own or even to an entirely new city. However, while this change in attitude is important Ansari points out that, “today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket [… and] that’s the thing about the Internet: It doesn’t simply help us find the best thing out there; it has helped to produce the idea that there is a best thing and, if we search hard enough, we can find it.”
And when it comes down to it, the whole idea of the internet and how it plays into our romantic lives is truly one of the most fascinating things about Modern Romance. It is so applicable to my life… and most likely yours. You, yourself might not be swiping left or right on tinder, or chattin’ with OkCupid cuties but chances are you have a friend who does. Or a sibling. Or an extended family member you only see on holidays but when you do see them they’re always talking about the latest potential romance they just met online. My point being, dating culture has seen a dramatic shift in the past 5 years or so and we’re all along for the ride.
Dating in general isn’t easy. I think no matter how confident or outgoing you are, dating produces a certain level of anxiety in anyone. It’s not so easy to meet people and develop a connection with them, so online dating should be much easier right? Well… it can be. I haven’t dived too far into online dating but I have tried it. And above all, else it was EXTREMELY entertaining.
Exhibit B: A message I received.
I FINALLY found a man to be my burger king. Can you say #GOALS??
Exhibit C: Profile of a man who clearly missed his calling and should be a poet. How did I get so lucky??
Now, I want to say that I, in no way, am trying to discourage anyone from online dating or am insinuating that these are the only bozo’s who message you. I actually think online dating is really helpful, especially for someone like me who has graduated college, works with mostly older people and isn’t readily meeting new people. I also want to say that there are plenty of men on that same site who I have had nice, normal conversations with- but those aren’t so easy to poke fun at ;).
Delving beyond online dating it is important to examine how internet and technology have taken such an enormous role in our daily love lives. You find your date on tinder, determine a place to meet up on Yelp, and drop a pin on maps for all your friends in case he’s a total creeper and someone needs to come bail you out, like NOW. With just a cell phone, you can start and end relationships, set up dates, profess your love and start a group message with all your BFF’s after you sleep with him for the first time to let them know it was the best sex you’ve EVER had. And in the name of honesty, my first really serious relationship probably wouldn’t have existed without the advanced technology of AIM. Yes. You read that correctly: AOL Instant Messenger. We had mutual friends but didn’t go to the same school. The cell phone I had was for emergencies, and light chit-chat exclusively. No texting plan, no unlimited calling plan, I don’t even think it had a camera.
However, the internet allowed us to find and develop a strong connection over-time. Would we have gotten together had we not had AIM? Who knows. Maybe? I think it’s doubtful, we weren’t an obvious pairing and we just wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get to know each other in a very casual way. Perhaps if we were to meet tomorrow for the first time, armed with iMessage, we might have experienced a similar outcome. I say this because, as pervasive as texting is, I also think it’s very similar to AIM as a form of communication.
I loved Modern Romance. I think it’s a supremely relevant book to our time, littered with facts, humor and personality- definitely one to pick up.
What are your experiences with technology and dating? Do you think it’s as ubiquitous as I do?