Date finished: February 7th 2016
Dating has never been easier, we’re told. With the digital revolution came a spate of dating websites and apps that revolutionised the process of meeting new people. But is it all silver linings, or has the influence of the digital age thrown up some unexpected problems too? This is the investigation that comedian Aziz Ansari undertakes in Modern Romance with the help of eminent sociologist Eric Klinenberg. Drawing on sociological surveys, Ansari’s stand-up, focus groups and prior research, Ansari and Klinenberg take us on a tour of dating, sex, relationships and marriage, past and present.
Their findings prove fascinating and they take particular care to compare and contrast the modern dating experience with that of days gone by. Most of the book’s focus is on the USA, but they do take the time to explore dating in other parts of the globe, notably the strange stagnation of relationships in Japan, and why the men of Buenos Aires need a bucket of icy water thrown over them.
Every facet of dating is explored from multiple angles; from searching for a potential mate and how to successfully ask them out, to the problems of cheating, to new attitudes regarding settling down in the modern age.
Ansari, being a comedian, fills the book with humorous asides. Some of these work, but others can feel forced and unnecessary. It can be annoying when a really great analysis sheds light on something, only for Ansari to make some silly remark to dumb things down, just in case things were getting too technical. That’s not to say this is always the case, Ansari’s remarks can sometimes be laugh-out-loud funny, and his style of narrative is overall quite charming.
All-in-all, this is a great beginners guide to the world of relationships in the digital age, providing an entertaining and accessible overview of dating past and present, and the problems and solutions that have arisen from the rise in social media. Modern Romance may not be the most technical book out there, but it’s a nice, easy read that balances entertainment and information well.