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Claire Tierney is a Staff Writer for The Hudsucker, and in her spare time she may be found hiking around Washington, bonding with her cat, or enjoying a fat sandwich. Claire is currently working jobs that utilize her impeccable customer service skills while she works towards achieving her dreams, whatever those may be.

Aziz Ansari Researches the Mix of Technology and Dating in His Book ‘Modern Romance’

Photo Credit: Terry Richardson

Aziz Ansari is having an incredible year. 2015 has seen the release of Netflix special Aziz Ansari Live At Madison Square Garden, the series finale of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, and the publishing of his book Modern Romance. Co-written by NYU Sociologist Eric Klinenberg, the book delves into the complicated relationship between dating culture and technology. Ansari says our smartphones make us flaky. Just because our modern world offers us more dating options than ever, doesn’t necessarily mean single people are having more success.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other, so it has necessarily changed the way we forge relationships. We are constantly plugged into each other’s lives via shallow text messages and social media. Ansari says that one’s texting history with another person is a better indicator of their relationship than anything else. Ansari told NPR, “It’s totally different when you see the actual messages and look at the timing and choice of words. It’s really fascinating to me.” So we are more connected than ever, and we have the ability to meet more people than ever. But how deep are these connections? Does being so tuned into each other make it harder to create an actual relationship?

Ansari age means his single life straddles the line between the pre-digital age of romance and the current state of affairs, this, along with his parents arranged marriage, creates a rich point of comparison. In a piece he wrote for TIME he compares his father’s search for a partner to his search for dinner one night. His father decided to marry his wife after spending 30 minutes with her. Aziz spent so much time on Yelp that he ran out of time and made a PB&J. “The stunning fact remained: it was quicker for my dad to find a wife than it is for me to decide where to eat dinner.”

With more options, comes more indecision. This constant indecision leads to lack of commitment which make us terrible at making plans. Ansari says that with more options, we want the best. The best restaurant, the best brunch plans, and the best sexual partners. It is classic FOMO, fear of missing out. Ansari calls this The Paradox of Choice, a term coined by psychologist Barry Schwartz. Essentially, we have so many choices that we live in fear of our hypothetical missed opportunities.

In TIME Ansari recalls a research subject, a “pretty boring guy” named Derek who rejected “a very beautiful [woman] with a witty profile page, a good job and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports” via OK Cupid.’” Ansari says:

“I was completely shocked. I couldn’t believe how quickly he had moved on. Imagine the Derek of 20 years ago, finding out that this beautiful, charming woman was a real possibility for a date. If she were at a bar and smiled at him, Derek of 1993 would have melted. He wouldn’t have walked up and said, “Oh, wait, you like the Red Sox?! No thank you!” before putting his hand in her face and turning away. But Derek of 2013 simply clicked an X on a web-browser tab and deleted her without thinking twice. Watching him comb through those profiles, it became clear that online, every bozo could now be a stud.”

But it’s not all bad. Ansari seems to revel in all of this innovation. He told Vanity Fair “I think it’s beautiful that all these tools are able to help people find love and happiness. I mean, sometimes it doesn’t go well. But there are so many people it’s helped. If you look at it one way, it’s creating all this love in the world that wouldn’t be created otherwise.”

Ansari researched his book from all angles, from anecdotes gathered from his stand-up to actual research conducted with co-writer Klinenberg. It promises to be an informative and humorous read. I hope to see more projects like this from Ansari.

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