Aziz Ansari understands the internet better than just about any public figure. Before he was a comedian, he made money by buying and selling domain names. He was an early adopter of Tumblr and Twitter. One of his breakout standup bits was about harassing his teenage cousin on Facebook. And now, when his peers are doing Reddit AMAs, Aziz is doing a reverse AMA: he’s set up a subreddit where he’s asking questions and getting responses from commenters as part his research for an upcoming book on modern romance.
The difficulties of love and connection in the internet era was the main topic of Buried Alive, his most recent standup special, and his book will be an extension of that. In fact, crowdsourcing research and opinions from Reddit is a technique that many people use for dating advice and theorizing. It’s a savvy technique, both stylistically and practically, for Aziz to use for research.
He and his co-author, Eric Klinenberg, are posting questions such as “Who’s found love because of social media – for example finding someone new or reconnecting with [an] old friend on Facebook?” and receiving thoughtful, often very personal answers. Many of the stories are entertaining enough on their own to merit a visit to the thread, like this one from a user named (sigh) fartbasket:
I met my fiancee on Tumblr. At the time we were both in relationships (she was married and I had a serious girlfriend), but we kind of became social media pals. When things started going south with my girlfriend, I started reaching out to my now fiancee (anonymously at first) just to kind of vent about how my significant other wasn’t interested in me anymore. She replied that she was in the same boat with her husband. We both really bonded over our misery, and really helped each other get through the breakups. In the process we fell madly in love. We lived on opposite sides of the country, so we carried on long-distance for a while, visiting each other every 3-4 weeks until she eventually moved to California to be with me. We’re getting married this summer.
r/modernromantics may not be active for very long, so head over there now if you have a story you think belongs in Aziz Ansari’s book.