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


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 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.