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Aziz Ansari wants to help you find a mate. Seriously.

In the modern world, romance is just a click away. Dating sites have sprung up, and the Internet and cell phones allow for quicker communication than ever before. This can make dating easier than ever, but also more awkward than ever. Comic Aziz Ansari chronicles all of this in his new book “Modern Romance.” Jeffrey Brown spoke to Ansari about the new work, and love in the modern age.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next: The joy of modern romance, all just a click away, Where today's singles can search for partners through a digital world of online or mobile dating sites. It can seem so easy and yet so potentially awkward.

    And in the speed and instant connection of texting and phones, and according to one of today's leading young comics, Aziz Ansari, you get a new age of anxiety of the heart.

    Jeffrey Brown caught up with him.

  • AZIZ ANSARI, Comedian:

    We have been hanging out together all the time, spending a lot of time together and everything? Yes, yes, I know. I want to keep doing that until you're dead.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Aziz Ansari gained widespread attention for his role as Tom Haverford on the hit show "Parks and Recreation."

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Yo, dog, life is what you make of it. Leave while I'm ahead? You got it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Now the 32-year-old comedian and actor is selling out large venues, including Madison Square Garden for Netflix, finding laughter in the pain of dating.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    No one wants to commit to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) because they're terrified that something better's going to come along.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And he's turn it all into a book titled "Modern Romance."

    Backstage on his book tour, he told me it all started with the realities he was seeing in his own life.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    For example, you text someone, they don't write back. And you are wondering why they haven't written back. And you're like, well, maybe they're busy.

    And then you look on Instagram and you see they're posting a photo of an omelet. And you're like, what? I thought you were busy. And you go through this roller coaster of emotions. You're wondering what is going on. And I realized, like, wow, I couldn't even have had that dilemma 10, 15 years ago. It didn't exist. This is very new, where you're sitting there staring at this little thing, like, waiting for something, you know?

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Aziz thinks the sheer number of choices available to young people these days, including potential partners, is also driving his generation crazy.

    He worked on the book with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, and together they sifted through data and talked to people of different generations about their paths to dating and marriage.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Biggest differences were actually not technology-related. It was more just kind of like an overall shift in just kind of how our culture views marriage.

    And, you know, you look at — we looked at these studies that we found from the 1930s in Philadelphia. And, you know, people, married people lived in very close proximity to where they lived. People would marry people that lived a few blocks away. Like, one out of three people married someone that lived in like a six-block radius.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Sometimes in the same building.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Yes. One out of 12, the same building.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    And now it's like they don't even do those studies anymore because it just doesn't happen.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    So where does the technology fit into all this? Does it make harder, easier?

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Well, the technology stuff, I think, you know, obviously, online dating is a tremendous presence on how people meet now.

    One out of three people that are married now, they met their spouse through online dating. And you can look at that, you know, some people that do online dating, they're very frustrated. It's very annoying.

    You go and you're meeting people that you don't like or you're sorting through all these messages and stuff. And you could look at that and go, this has kind of become a burden for people. But then you look at it the other way and you're like, oh, there's this vast quantity of love that is being created in the world that wouldn't have existed had it not been for these sites.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    I'm still trying to understand what is so different, though, because if you think about — well, think about cavemen, right? The anxiety, the — you know, the uncertainty, the awkwardness of relationships, I would think cavemen were worried about what was going on in other caves.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Sure. Yes.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You read a Jane Austen novel and the anxiety of waiting for Mr. Darcy, that kind of thing.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    There are timeless issues.

    But it's more about, oh, old issues — we have a chapter called "Old Issues, New Forms." And it's, OK, now when you have a partner, right, there's weird things that didn't exist before, where it's like, oh, now your digital worlds kind of melt.

    Let's say you glance at your wife's phone, and there's seven texts from a guy named Christopher. You're like, this is weird. Who is Christopher? And then the next day, you see there's three texts from Christopher. You're like Christopher is texting my wife quite a bit. Who is Christopher?

    There's maybe a version of that in the cavemen times where some guy named Christopher poked his head in, but it's just…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Smoke signals.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Yes, but it's like a new version of that.

    And then you have this dilemma, like, would it be weird if I checked my wife's phone? I see my wife's phone is open. And I glance over. I see messages from Christopher open. Do I read the message? Should I read it? These are the kind of new interesting things that people have to deal with.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Here's the amazing thing, though. Aziz Ansari is himself the product of an arranged marriage for his Indian-born parents, who raised him in South Carolina.

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    They met each other and got married like a week later.

    But a week, six months, that's still pretty quick, especially compared to what people do now.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But what do you think of the lesson? I don't know anything about your parents' marriage, but what do you make of the lessons of their marriage, getting together that way, marrying you say a week after they met, as opposed to what people go through today, with all the technology and the high expectations?

  • AZIZ ANSARI:

    Yes.

    Well, I think what is interesting about those arranged marriages is, you find a lot of times they're successful because it kind of starts at a simmer and it builds to a boil. And these people are really investing in the relationship. They're like, I'm in it. I'm going to have a family with this person and I'm in. And it starts at a simmer and builds to a boil, when it works.

    And I would say my parents it seemed — my observation with them is it's boiling. They're really in love and I think their relationship has gotten better as they have kind of grown together, and raised kids together and everything.

    There's so much social sciences that shows just spending more time with people and getting to know them, that's how you get those connections that really lead to the boiling water. If you are just quickly dismissing people, if you have like one drink with someone, you go on some boring date with them, and you're like, they are not fun, it's like, all right, well, I don't think if you really gave them a chance.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    For record, Aziz says, these days, he is in a long-term committed relationship, but he told me he's not above checking his girlfriend's phone to see if that Christopher character is texting yet again.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Jeffrey Brown.

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