Modern Romance: The Perks and Perils of Soulmate Searching in the Digital Age

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The 21st century has brought two new categories of people:

  1. People who use Tinder and are willing to admit it,
  2. People who use Tinder and pretend that it’s only for pathetic people.

Whether you’re in category 1 or 2, this book is for you. We’re all trapped in modern dating scene. The only chance a single person hasn’t tried online dating is because his/her dog ate his/her phone.

Only Aziz Ansari, one of my favorite comics, who can go for an in-depth exploration on love in this digital age with hilarious, witty, yet thoughtful delivery. Again and again, this 31 y.o comedian sets himself the not-just-ordinary comedian by writing this Modern Romance in which he teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and undertook what he calls a “massive research project”, scraping data from top online dating sites such as OkCupid and Match.com and conducting interviews and focused group discussions with hundreds of online daters not only in America, but also Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Paris. They also input data from the past history of dating and marriage arrangement as comparison to today’s setting. He proves that he’s not only funny, but also smart.

Ansari writes: “A century ago people would find a decent person who lived in their neighbourhood. Their families would meet and, after they decided neither party was a murderer, the couple would get married and have a kid, all by the time they were 22. Today, people spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.”

I like Aziz because he often talks about problems young adults like me deal in life, however his jokes are not as cheesy nor lame as the dry ‘difference between single and in relationship’ jokes, his jokes are actually more serious things like whether one is ready to give up single life or not but at the same time wants a company of a lover. So, when he writes books, no surprise I will love them. Anyway, if you expect this book to be a totally funny book, it’s not. It’s not a humor book about Aziz’ dating experience, it’s a humorous social study driven by Aziz’ personal experiences and struggles in finding soulmates in the 21st century in which technology that’s supposed to ease our life often creates more problems. So, most of the content is explanation and data of analysis, told in a humorous way. You won’t really enjoy it if you only seek for author’s funny biographical stories.

Modern Romance focused only on heterosexual relationships, specifically those of middle-class, university-educated people who delay getting married or having children until their late 20s or 30s. That sounds like me and Aziz himself. That’s why he feels my pain. Lol.

Aziz doesn’t just directly jump to the perils of online dating. He elaborates how the viewpoints of young adults changed towards marriage that later impact on the longer period of time spent to find the perfect soulmate. People today seek for more deeper meaning of marriage than just a ‘What’s Next’ thing to do as compared to that of 30 years ago. But at the same time, we are drowning in the paradox of choices where too many choices makes us left with nothing because we spend too much time on discovering new things and people instead of settling down.

Modern Romance is only an in-depth elaboration and exploration of problems, in the end, Aziz confirms no advice to do as it is not a self-help book. He gives the freedom to the readers to decide what they think is best to do for their own problems.

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Austen Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist

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This is my love-hate reading of all time.

As a person who tries to pursue her dreams in creative field, this book speaks what I need to hear when I’m having a writer’s block (even though I’m not a writer) and hesitation to start something. That’s why I love it. Why I hate it? Because it’s a self-help book. I hate the fact the I am enjoying a self-help book.

I don’t read self-help books and usually I give a patronizing smile to people who read self-help books, much less if they post the photo of it on soc-meds with captions that’s trying so hard to sound thoughtful.

I came across someone’s blog and she reviewed the book, I skimmed the review but zoomed the photos of quotes in the book. The quotes punched me on the face, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”. That was my dilemma at that time. For a long time, I was in the state  when I always delayed to start something just because I was either procrastinating or thinking too much, waiting for the perfect moment to start, which never comes unless I start.

First, I laughed at the book title, clearly it’s a self-help book for creative people. FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE, that’s why I cringed. Why would creative people need a self-help book to be creative? They’re creative people. And now I know, that’s why we need it, because we get too cocky sometimes that we can always find ways by ourselves. Which is true. I always eventually find ways and answers, but I hope I’d found them earlier. Why couldn’t I find them earlier? Because nobody told me how and what.

None in my family has a creative soul, they don’t even believe in it. My parents of course never have been in many hesitations that I’ve been through. So I can’t rely guidance from them. My friends are just the same.

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Hence Austin Kleon’s book feels like an uncle that I need in a form of a book. He knows what to say because he’s been through it. I was down when my project at that time didn’t turn out to be what I had planned, expected before. It made me feel useless that I am no good. Talking with a close friends for an hour and my boyfriend tried to cheer me up too. But it didn’t make the sadness disappear fully. In just 30 mins reading the book, it boosted my confidence again.

The book is less than 150 pages, light, you can finish in one single sitting. It’s well-written, the structure makes it easy to follow and on-point ideas, no rambling, repetitive explanation. To avoid making it boring, it’s filled with doodles that fresh up your eyes and makes it feel less lecturing. It’s a reminder book, meaning I read this book whenever I need an uncle to cheer me up and give me solutions. Kleon’s must know it that people read the book more than once, hence he made it a quick reading and straight forward. So that doesn’t take much of people’s time.

I recommend this book, especially for creative people. Whenever you feel like you want to quit, read it. Because this book makes you want to sit alone and produce something. Admit it, we all need help.