Study Guide

Gone Girl Technology and Modernization

By Gillian Flynn

Technology and Modernization

I had a job for eleven years and then I didn't, it was that fast. All around the country, magazines began shuttering […] Writers (my kind of writers: aspiring novelists, ruminative thinkers, people whose brains don't work quick enough to blog or link or tweet, basically old, stubborn blowhards) were through. We were like women's hat makers or buggy-whip manufacturers: Our time was done. (1.9)

Losing his beloved writing job is a giant blow to not just Nick's life, but his enormous ego as well. As someone with a big part of his identity rooted in his job, having his deliberate writing process replaced by the fast-paced brevity of the Internet gives him a feeling of uselessness that eventually takes its toll on his marriage.

"What do you teach?" Gilpin asked.

"Journalism, magazine journalism." A girl texting and walking forgot the nuances of the latter and almost ran into me. She stepped to the side without glancing up. It made me feel cranky, off my lawn! old. (11.33-34)

The fact that Nick has an encounter with the very texting-based lifestyle that's put him out of a job even as he's explaining his career to Gilpin just adds insult to injury. That and it's just plain annoying when people walk and text at the same time and then run into you.

I felt a sudden affinity for the troop of Blue Book men, pictured myself walking into their bitter encampment, waving a white flag: I am your brother. I used to work in print too. The computers stole my job too. (13.76)

The death of the publishing industry at the hands of the Internet isn't just a New York thing—it's hit North Carthage, too. The Blue Book Boys—a gang of angry, unemployed men who used to work at a factory that made exam booklets—take out their hostility through violent acts of crime performed at their headquarters, the abandoned mall. Technology may have brought progress, but it's also made some people so ticked off that they're driven to harm others.

I smiled robotically as she pressed her face against my cheek and took a photo with her phone, the fake, camera-click sound waking me. (13.98)

It goes without saying that Nick exercised very poor New Millennium Common Sense here. In the day and age of viral photos, you don't take a selfie with a strange woman while searching for your missing wife. You just don't do that. Unsurprisingly, the photo ends up on Ellen Abbott Live, further tarnishing the public's image of him.

I sat in the doorstep of a vacant storefront. It occurred to me that I had brought Amy to the end of everything. We were literally experiencing the end of a way of life, a phrase I'd applied only to New Guinea tribesmen and Appalachian glassblowers. (15.53)

Nick's probably being a little overdramatic here—after all, enough people still prefer to read print newspapers, magazines, and books over electronic editions or eBooks that they'll probably hang out awhile longer. Still, though, the Internet is a major deathblow to his trade. Just as ancient practices and traditions die out, time will inevitably erase aspects of Nick's work. Heck, Borders is already gone.

Andie was twenty-three. I assumed my words, my voice, even photos of me were captured on various electronica. (19.73)

What's really weird about the Andie Affair—and there's a lot about it that's weird—is that Nick, who blames technology for the loss of his job, gets with a girl who embodies the current generation's attitude toward his enemy. Her character is a commentary on how the next era of soon-to-be adults views technology: as a way of life that their very existence depends on.

"We've got to fix your image, because should this go to trial, it will influence the juror pool. Change of venue doesn't mean anything anymore – twenty-four-hour cable, Internet, the whole world is your venue. So I cannot tell you how key it is to start turning this whole thing around." (29.44)

Ever watch a story on the news or read it on the Internet and make a snap judgment of what the person involved must be like? With Google, Facebook, and Twitter trending topics, news and distortions of news travel fast, until it's almost impossible to separate what's true from what isn't. For Nick, the tendency for hot, juicy news stories to go viral makes his case even more challenging.

I thought [Andie'd] last exactly three days. Then she wouldn't be able to resist sharing. I know she likes to share because I'm one of her friends on Facebook—my profile name is invented. […] But she's been surprisingly discreet for a girl of her generation. (34.20, 31)

As she moves through each stage of her plot, Amy's smart enough to know how to use Facebook to get intelligence on what Andie's up to. This makes Andie even more of a commentary on the forthcoming generation, sharing her life on the Internet as well capturing it on electronic devices.

I still missed my magazine—I hid copies like porn and read them in secret, because I didn't want people feeling sorry for me. (37.44)

Wow, Nick—that's some serious shame. This confession to Boney and Go about where he really was during the time unaccounted for on the day Amy disappeared (that is, assuming he's actually telling the truth) reveals just how much losing his writing job destroyed Nick and exacerbated his frustration with life.

I type Nick's name into the search engine, and the blogs are going nuts, because my husband has gotten drunk and done an insane interview, in a bar, with a random girl wielding a Flip camera. (40.4)

Flip cameras. Blogs. Search engines. What Tanner Bolt warned Nick about when he talked about how critical it was to turn public opinion on the case has its fulfillment in Nick's interview with the crime blogger in a North Carthage bar. Modern crime investigation isn't just a case of tabloid stories—the Internet allows the general public to directly influence its events.