You may have heard that Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari is writing a book on modern romance—but did you know that you can help write it? For the last few weeks, the comedian has been treating his fans as focus groups, holding a series of shows polling audiences about various issues related to the search for love in our social media-savvy age. It only makes sense, then, that he’s now taken that search online.
Yesterday, Ansari set up the “Modern Romantics” subreddit on Reddit: Within this subreddit (open to all users), he posts questions that will provide fodder for his forthcoming love and relationships book,Modern Romance. The aim of r/modernromantics, he explains, is “for fun discussions. Please do not mistake anything you read here as professional advice. Any and all stories posted here may be used in my book on modern romance.” Ansari’s co-writer, sociologist and Going Solo author Eric Klinenberg, will also weigh in on the subreddit.
As Famously points out, r/modernromantics acts as a reverse AMA: Instead of answering Redditors’ queries, Ansari is asking the questions. (There used to be a joke thread posted by a different user, titled something like “Would you leave your significant other for Aziz?”, but it’s since been removed.) So far, Redditors are engaging in the kind of open-minded discussion I see on other dating subs (I frequent r/okcupid), but with far more optimism. Here are a couple of recent thread titles and some standout answers:
passthe_mike: Before you needed to actually see another person face to face to flirt or actively call them. Now you can privately/subtly text, instant message, etc…
Before, calling a new person to talk on the phone for hours may have seemed suspicious. Now, you can text a new person all the time and it’s much more commonplace (or at least less noticeable)
azizansariAMA: That’s what Eric and I have been talking about. The barriers to flirting are gone. You used to have a make a phone call – a BOLD move. Now, you can send a simple facebook message that says “Wsup?” and you are engaging with someone in a way that could lead to something flirtatious very quickly.
eeekayyy22: my boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years and are not friends on any sort of social media. I believe 100% that this is a contributing factor to the success of our relationship. it’s not healthy to know every single thing a person does, significant other or otherwise.
Has anyone met their significant other through online dating or similar way and been kind of embarrassed about it and created a ‘decoy’ story to tell people how you met? If so, what’s your decoy story?
slimygrrl: Not one, but TWO of my best friends met their husbands online and both gave decoy stories at first. One was “We met at Trader Joe’s” and the other was “We met at a New Year’s party.” Both stories were suspicious because one husband would never go to Trader Joe’s unless a girl had dragged him in there, and the other husband has trouble staying awake past 9pm.
Especially encouraging is that Ansari is following up with some of these answers, extending the discussions and giving us a better sense of what kinds of conclusions he’s starting to draw. When was the last time a celebrity invited such engaging conversation on an ongoing basis (as opposed to an AMA that lasts only a few hours)?
If you’re still on the fence about baring your soul to provide research for Modern Romance, consider how Ansari described the project last fall:
“You know when you text someone you’re romantically interested in and you don’t hear anything back and then you see them post a photo of a pizza on Instagram? That’s exactly what I want this book to deal with. These are strange conundrums that no generation has ever faced before and it’s a fascinating jumping off point for what I hope will be a very interesting book about modern courtship.”
Sadly, we’ll have to wait until September 2015 to treat ourselves to all of Ansari’s—and Redditors’—wisdom in Modern Romance, but we bet it’ll be worth the wait.