I recently finished “reading” the audiobook of Aziz Ansari’s Modern Love (coincidentally narrated by Aziz Ansari), which is essentially an amusing presentation of real sociological research focused on how dating has changed in the internet era. Made for a good listen in the car on the way to daycare, which has become my primary reading time of late.1
It’s an interesting exercise to take a step back and see how in just a few years the foundation of our relationships and framework for making new ones has completely changed. The sections on international romance, particularly in Japan, were a highlight.
As someone who likes having their biases confirmed, my other favorite part of the book was its discussion of studies that demonstrate how social media is increasingly distorting how we view life satisfaction.
That’s the thing about the Internet: It doesn’t simply help us find the best thing out there; it has helped to produce the idea that there is a best thing and, if we search hard enough, we can find it. And in turn there are a whole bunch of inferior things that we’d be foolish to choose.
Too many choices can be paralyzing and just as depressing as having too few. Seeing other people’s curated images causes us to believe that other people are happier than we are, that their choices are better than ours, and that even if we are happy, maybe we could be happier. And all this in turn makes us sad. Perhaps, the solution:
Spend more time with people, less time in front of a screen, and—since we’re all in it together—be nice to people.