Modern Romance

Apparently I’m continuing my comedian/celebrity authored trends. This one is different though. It’s not about Aziz Ansari’s life, or entrance into Hollywood. It’s about, as the title says, Modern Romance.

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Romance and dating have changed so much in a short amount of time. It’s really kind of astounding. Ansari wrote the book with Eric Klinenberg, a professor of Sociology; Public Policy; and Media, Culture and Communications, so I feel comfortable accepting their research. Ansari also interviewed several experts in the field and quoted their interviews in the book.

Of course, I don’t have the book in front of me now, so I can’t give exact quotes… But only 50ish years ago, people married the person down the block or even the person two apartments downstairs.

“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.”

Now, we travel and move so much more, and our spouses and significant others come from around the state, country and even world. How do we meet these people? For many a modern dater, we use apps and online dating. Ansari’s take on the beginnings of online dating–classified ads and video dating in the 80s and 90s was fascinating! I had no idea video dating was a thing!

My brain is super tired right now and I’m having a hard time writing coherently, so I’ll leave you with some interesting quotes:

“That younger people are so used to text-based communications, where they have time to gather their thoughts and precisely plan what they are going to say, that they are losing their ability to have spontaneous conversation. She argues that the muscles in our brain that help us with spontaneous conversation are getting less exercise in the text-filled world, so our skills are declining. When we did the large focus group where we split the room by generation—kids on the left, parents on the right—a strange thing happened. Before the show started, we noticed that the parents’ side of the room was full of chatter. People were talking to one another and asking how they had ended up at the event and getting to know people. On the kids’ side, everyone was buried in their phones and not talking to anyone around them.”

“Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that. Ideally, though, we’re lucky, and we find our soul mate and enjoy that life-changing mother lode of happiness. But a soul mate is a very hard thing to find.”

“We repeatedly found that one text can change the whole dynamic of a budding relationship. … When I spoke with Sherry Turkle about this, she said that texting, unlike an in-person conversation, is not a forgiving medium for mistakes. In a face-to-face conversation, people can read each other’s body language, facial expressions, and tones of voice. If you say something wrong, you have the cues to sense it and you have a moment to recover or rephrase before it makes a lasting impact. Even on the phone you can hear a change in someone’s voice or a pause to let you know how they are interpreting what you’ve said. In text, your mistake just sits there marinating on the other person’s screen, leaving a lasting record of your ineptitude and bozoness.”

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