"Actively Seeking" Aziz Ansari: A Comedian On Relationships In The 21st Century

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"Actively Seeking" Aziz Ansari: A Comedian On Relationships In The 21st Century
"Actively Seeking" Aziz Ansari: A Comedian On Relationships In The 21st Century

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If you love the series "Parks and Recreation" or have watched at least one episode of "The Master of All Trades", then, most likely, you already know the name of the comedian Aziz Ansari. He wrote and directed one of the best sitcoms of recent years, and at the same time played the main role in it. Unlike the main character of the series, Ansari seems to be really a jack of all trades: the actor and showman received a higher education in biology and business, managed to implement the idea of ​​an author's series on one of the most important entertainment channels in the world, and now decided to try himself as a writer … For the first time in Russian, the publishing house MIF publishes his bestseller "Actively Searching".

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Aziz Ansari was not afraid to ask everything we wanted to know about the search for love in the era of Facebook and Tinder. What if there are too many people in the world that you would like to meet? Or are there too few interesting friends of friends? How to find your soul mate in the digital age? Why does passion fade over the years? Are there ways to continually experience the intensity of the feelings on the first date, and is it necessary?

In his book Actively Seeking, thirty-three-year-old Ansari decided to get serious about answering the questions that at some point accumulated in him (like all of us) about dating culture and finding a soul mate. In collaboration with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, armed with the help of psychologists, sexologists and anthropologists, as well as numerous focus groups, Ansari plunged headlong into the problems of the romantic life of the generation of today's 25-35-year-old people, that is, those who are currently experiencing a stage of life, called emerging adulthood in English. This is the time when you no longer depend on your parents and live separately, but have not yet entered into a serious relationship.

On the one hand, this period of free and independent life gives us the opportunity to grow as individuals and communicate with a variety of people without global changes in personal status. A huge number of elderly people (especially women) interviewed by Ansari say that it is the absence of this period that they most often regret. On the other hand, the initial maturity is not only about having fun, but also having to choose between the ever-emerging new dating options. Like any excess of choice, the world of bars, party-friendly, social media, and tinder often tires people so much that they don't want anything at all.

At the same time, at some point, almost every one of us begins to be interested in more stable relations, and then problems arise associated with the choice of partners in the modern world, and with the fact that we are afraid of losing our recently acquired independence. Based on the results of two years of research, Ansari comes to an intriguing conclusion: first, very often we devote too little time to an individual. There are much more first dates than fourth or fifth dates, and the most interesting thing in people is recognized a little later than the first kiss.

Dating site consultants recommend keeping online communication to a face-to-face meeting to a minimum

Secondly, the possibility of dating on the Internet should not be confused with relationships, and we do this all the time: correspondence with a woman or a man on the Internet cannot replace a personal meeting with a person. It turns out that dating site consultants recommend keeping online communication to a personal meeting to a minimum: that is, if you liked a person and you chose each other on the site or in the same tinder, do not waste time on many days of exhausting correspondence, which is often useless. leads, and meet live as soon as possible.Unfortunately, most people in search of love are trying to pursue several goals at once and are constantly afraid to make a mistake (what if this person is not the best? What if my soulmate is just around the corner?), And as a result, they do not give a chance to people with whom they have could be a really great relationship.

However, the picture of excessive choice is characteristic of large cities, but in the provinces people often have another problem: it is difficult to find a really new person with their own circle of interests. Sadly, it seems that Moscow in this regard is more similar to the towns of Wichita or Monroe described by Ansari, where in most cases, having met a guy or girl who is really interesting to you, you find 48 mutual friends on Facebook, and in the end everyone knows everything about everyone. In small towns, couples sometimes go on a first date somewhere so as not to end up in the same bar with ex-girls and boyfriends and their friends.

Obviously, first dates are just the very beginning of a serious relationship, and a huge part of modern pop (and not only) culture is built on speculations about the possibility of one love for life and the theory of halves. And Ansari, of course, does not shy away from such phenomena of today's life as monogamous, "conditionally monogamous" (monogamish) and open relationships, and also addresses the moral and ethical problems associated with cheating. If men until recently were not obliged to be faithful to women, freely turned to the services of sex workers and had mistresses, then women did not have such a right, and when they got the opportunity to choose, it turned out that for a man, female infidelity is much more unbearable.

So the social contract, instead of allowing for treason on both sides, came to the idea of ​​their complete ban. But absolute fidelity has become the cornerstone of modernity, because, as one would expect, in reality it is very difficult to maintain a completely monogamous relationship and the percentage of betrayals is high; another thing is that they are treated differently in different cultures, and it might be healthier to be able to talk about them as part of our lives, rather than keeping skeletons in a closet.

Our generation is afraid of losing passionate love: often relationships end as soon as the intensity of falling in love declines

And, of course, we are all afraid of losing those strong feelings that we have for a partner with whom we are head over heels in love. Therefore, Aziz Ansari, who has entered into a serious relationship, devotes a separate place in the book to the issues of maintaining a spark in marriage, to the concepts of passionate love and friendly love (not to be confused with love for your friends!). The latter arises gradually, either from passionate love, or (as often happened in marriages organized by families, for example) from attachment, in which at first there was no ardor.

Our generation is very afraid of losing passionate love, and, as a result, relationships often end as soon as the intensity of the initial crush subsides. Passionate love is beautiful, but, like many drugs (namely, neurophysiologists compare the release of dopamine during strong falling in love with the effect of drugs), with constant use, its effect decreases. But the number of our worries, the level of self-doubt and in the future also decreases. It is friendly love that gives partners the opportunity to live together for decades, raise children and become a support for each other.

“Actively Searching” is very easy and pleasant to read: on the one hand, both in Ansari's stand-up show and in “The Master of All Trades” it is obvious that the author is really interested in everything related to contemporary relations. However, few people dare to devote a whole book to them, moreover, not a funny essay of two hundred pages, but a serious study. Here, the author's sense of humor does not compromise the result of serious work for a second, while bursts of laughter are inevitable when reading.

This is a truly optimistic book about modern relations, albeit with the stipulations provided by Ansari himself that we are talking mainly about heterosexual relations of representatives of the middle class, because it would be unrealistic to cover more in terms of time and the forces of the authors. However, after learning about the demographic disaster and fear of rejection of men in Japan, the simple way to ask is, "Would you like to have sex?" in Paris, about the potential danger of a first date with a person who does not have social media accounts, and much more, you simultaneously get food for thought and a pleasant feeling that all problems are surmountable, we live in a great time and, most importantly, we all in the same boat.

Photos: Fotofermer - stock.adobe.com

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