Gabby Petito was an American travel influencer. She dedicated most of her life to traveling the US via a white van. Which happens to be a popular social media trend called Van-lifer. The 22-year-old was reported missing by her family (mother) on September 11th. After her fiance, Brian Laundrie returned home without her. Ever since social media has become a finite pool of worry and an online sleuthing on her whereabouts. Unfortunately earlier last month Petito was pronounced dead as her body was discovered near Wyoming Grand Teton Park. It has been said that an influencer couple may have helped authorities locate her remains. This discovery grew Gabby a heartfelt following of more than one million Instagram users. Beforehand Petito did not have a large following and had high hopes of becoming a travel influencer. This tragedy made her dreams come true.
Gabby Petito’s disappearance heavily impacted the Van Life community. Influencers began creating content around her, while others gathered information in an effort to solve the case. The internet overflowed with updates and theories surrounding Petito’s case. This event was so trivial that Tik Tok psychics jumped on board as well as Youtube creators who began sharing their discoveries. Most information was categorized by #gabbypetito and #findgabbypetito. Many even suspected her fiance Laundrie however as of last week he has been pronounced dead.
Influencers Solve the Gabby Petito Case
It can be said that comedian and writer Paris Campbell led authorities to Petito. Campbell used her platform to bring awareness to the disappearance of Gabby. What turned into a missing flier soon rolled over to about forty videos on news updates on Petito’s whereabouts. This content soon reached Kyle and Jenn Bethune and led them to join the team. The Bethune’s are a family that lived on a bus for two years. They received a call from their friend with information about Petito and Laundrie who may have been in the Bridger Teton national forest at the same time as the Bethune’s. Petito’s van can be seen in the Bethune family’s video footage while blogging for their youtube channel. Whoever knew that social media could solve crime cases.
In mid-August, police video cam footage was released that revealed Gabby and Brian were pulled over because of their reported domestic dispute. It visually showed a very upset Gabby, who expressed her efforts to build her blog and youtube platform. A transcript later released stated that the gentleman (Brian) was slapping the girl( Petito). This information would have been crucial for officials to know however it didn’t surface until it was too late. You ever heard of the saying all that glitters is not gold. It applies perfectly to this situation. Gabby was in trouble and no one was there for her. Her Instagram reflected an exciting life filled with exploration, cheerfulness, and freedom. But, under the surface was really a cry for help.
Stigma Of Social Media
Gabby’s death is very real and there is a lesson to take from this. Social media is known for fabricating the best aspect of your life. Everything on social media is almost always fake. And to some degree influencers are faking some portion of their life. It’s ultimately sad that Gabby couldn’t enjoy the mass following her death given to her while she was alive. If we never felt the need to make our lives more exciting for the allurement of others she may have very well been alive. This is an eye-opener that even social media influencers go through very bad things.
I think we all felt the pain and stress Gabby Petito went through. The need to succeed to be the best in this life. To find purpose and prevail. She was from Long Island, she didn’t have a million followers, she was literally your typical girl. She was someone. I think that’s what made her so captivating. Gabby Petito did not deserve the cards life dealt her. She indirectly teaches us that it’s ok to post the full narrative. Social media does not have to be about the best parts of our life. We don’t have to fall under the status quo. I believe that Dr. Collet says it best “This case really highlights the lie of social media, and especially Instagram, the presentation of ‘ an ideal self versus the actual self.”
Changed the game
Gabby Petito changed the face of social media by being herself. She did what many of us would have done. Now we know what should be done moving forward. Making social media realistic, can be the very thing towards saving a person’s life. Being human and having a typical life is still favorable. So many believe that in order to monetize or be desirable to brands, we have to put on a facade. And to some degree it’s true. It’s not worth our well-being. If only Gabby Petitio had shared her full story with the world she may have been here today.
Feature image by Bradley Dunn from UNSPLASH.COM