Thursday, March 31, 2016

Modern Romance

Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Listening to this audiobook was much more interesting than I expected--Ansari did actual research! I didn't think it was going to be an genuine nonfiction title, so I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun to hear him read his own book, and I presume most of his asides to listeners were just for the audio version.

After listening to the book, I am more thankful than ever to have used eHarmony to meet my husband. Ansari mostly focuses on Tinder, OKCupid, and when he looks at online dating, which fascinated me because of the difference in approach and philosophy they have as compared with eHarmony, and hence the clientele they seem to attract. I guess if you are just looking for a way to meet more people, and you're not ready for or interested in a serious relationship, it makes sense that you wouldn't want to invest the time it takes to fill out the long questionnaires eHarmony has you complete. My personal experience (over 8 years ago, so it may have changed since then) was that the process of the questionnaires and the stages of communication functioned as a way to essentially weed out the people you wouldn't be happy with anyway and allows you to just explore relationships that actually have potential for long-term success. It's too bad that the people in Ansari's focus groups don't appear to have caught on to this, since many of them mentioned being exhausted by this process of trying to find someone, and some even realized that too many choices could be overwhelming. If you're basing your dating decisions solely on profile photos (or even brief online profiles), particularly ones which may appear to you in an app purely due to GPS proximity at that precise moment, odds are, it'll take A LOT of bad dates to meet someone who's right for you. Ugh. No thanks!

It was also fascinating to hear about other cultures' current trends in dating and marriage. For example, I had no idea Japan was having such an issue with people not wanting to get married and have children. And the differing views of fidelity around the world were likewise captivating...and often sad. There was a lot of unnecessary and preventable anguish in those too-high statistics on global cheating. We need to take better care of ourselves and each other.

Another relatively recent phenomenon I am thankful to be old enough to have avoided (and which terrifies me when I think about my daughter's future) is sexting. Some younger women apparently choose to sext because they see it as being in charge of their own bodies and sexuality. I'm all in favor of empowering women, How do they not realize that they lose all of that supposed control the moment someone else has those photos? Talk about being poster children for the science of brain development and how the ability to foresee consequences often doesn't mature until your mid-twenties!

Dating in the modern age isn't all bad, though, and I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this book because my review points out some of the downsides. It's not all gloom & doom out there; I'm merely thankful to be happily married and not dealing with the anxiety of texting etiquette, etc.

For readers' advisors: Ansari is a male comic who swears like a sailor. Do not suggest this book to anyone who doesn't enjoy off-color stand-up comedy routines. I can deal with a certain amount of profanity, but I got REALLY tired of it by the end, especially his overuse of the word "boning" and all its variants. It can take a long time to listen to the entire book when you can only listen while alone in the car--this is NOT a book for children to hear. It would be fun to analyze and debate this book, so if your book group members have a high tolerance for foul language, it might be a great choice to foster a lively book discussion.

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