On the day she disappeared, the influencer had fewer than 100,000 followers. Today, she has 1.3 million gawking at her digital remains.
Maybe because I am a 68-year-old boomer, but I could not care less about Instagram "influencers", am sorry for whatever happened to Gabby Petito but have no interest in the drama or gory details, and think there are lot more of "me" than the ones referred to as "us".
The story is irresistible for opportunistic commentators hoping to score points, because it offers springboards to many a foregone conclusion:
- She’s a fake and deserved it! No sympathy!
- She’s a white girl, so it’s no fair that people care about her - you’re all racist white supremecists!
- Wait, the boyfriend is a white male - this reinforces the anti-male, anti-white narrative!
I hardly know what to think, on my own.
“Commentators including Joy Reid rushed to declare this yet another tiresome case of Missing White Woman Syndrome”
Daily reminder that, in an effort to shame a police officer, Joy Reid said that knife fighting is a part of urban culture and I am still chuckling about this 6 months later.
"This is wrong. [Joy] Reid assumes we care for reasons of race and youth, but the deeper, darker reality is whether we care at all."
I was sickened by the people claiming Gabby Petito was "privileged" because her murder was turned into a media circus.
As you wrote, this indicates a LACK of caring.
Those who made these sick heartless statements should apologize to the Petito family.
Enjoyed this article. A couple of thoughts :
- The idea of influencer is really nothing new. This role was filled by entertainment, magazines and newspapers in the past. The only difference is now it’s a cottage industry because anybody with the right skills can do it. Either way it’s always the fascination of the public when famous, even marginally so, people die.
- as far as Joy Reed is concerned it’s important to realize her underlying motives. She is a classic race baiter and supporter of BLM. We all know BLM’s True motivations are to convert the US into a communist country. They will accomplish this by any means necessary which includes violent revolution. Joy Reid is simply a useful idiot to stir up anger and resentment in order to set Americans against each other. The irony is that if there were a revolution she’d probably be one of the first to be eliminated.
I've felt "Missing White Woman Syndrome" is another one of those terms that's racializing something that's a problem entirely on its own merits. This is more what I'd term "Damsels In Distress", and it's a theme that the news industry resorts to frequently. It's less about the color of the person than that they were young, attractive, and female.
The perspective that I'd like to add is that these stories do not rise to the level of national news, but they come into play when news organizations think they're having a slow news day. But what's slow right now? We have important legislative agendas to discuss. We have international developments with a pandemic, and the strains in international relations that can often come up in a pandemic (China vs. Taiwan, Russia, North Korea, others). We have reams of documents detailing corruption among the world's most wealthy with the Pandora Papers. We have what is likely to be active coup plotting by members of a party that refuses to admit it lost. But how much national airtime has been devoted to this story? How many US citizens can tell you about the minutiae of this case, but don't know why China and Taiwan have tensions?
Far from being racialized, this is actually one of those topics that I think is more of a gender issue. Judging by the audience for shows that South Park brilliantly termed "murder porn" - the hour-long shows dissecting murder mysteries, also often involving women - the audience is overwhelmingly female. I don't think it's a stretch to infer that a lot of the dominance of the Damsels In Distress stories in US media is precisely because it's attempting to appeal to female readers and viewers.
I think this is an important question for women to discuss. Why this fixation on these topics? Gabby Petito is one woman who suffered tragedy. I don't want to detract from that, but there are big issues affecting women all over the world that are not getting this level of attention. For every Gabby Petito, there are literally thousands of women in Afghanistan and other countries that are brutalized on a more routine basis. Too much focus for women's issues here at home has been on these local issues, often nonsensical in their utter unimportance to women's progress, when women around the world are still living in conditions the US evolved out of several decades ago.
Like the ways we're seeing the use of language become more important with other issues dealing with race, we've seen similar baubles distracting concerned feminists for years. Think about what's been happening to women in undeveloped countries while we've been having the all-important discussions about whether manhole covers should really be called "personhole covers" - because that really solves something. I'll just summarize that I feel strongly these stories are meant to appeal to women. They are often embraced by women. They are also not a stand-in for caring about real issues that are affecting larger numbers of women here at home, and abroad.
I’m old. Not into social media, most of it seems like those annoying bullshit Christmas letters I used to get full of film flam. Or obituaries describing the abusive alcoholic father as the “greatest Dad ever”
Not sure what an “influencer” is but some of my personal favorite “influencers” are: Christ, Tolstoy, Twain, Socrates, etc. Those are timeless and true.
Here's the lesson: try to raise your kids to have aspirations beyond roaming around the country in a van and having people follow you online. And, oh yes, teach your kid about boundaries. If a boy/girlfriend...fiancé...treats them like garbage...especially when you're 22...move the hell on. Don't wait to be literally or figuratively, murdered. And-- make sure your kids know they can "park the van", call you, and you'll get them on the next flight home.
Interesting discussion. I think it's worth mentioning that 1.3 million Instagram followers, out of the entire population with access to Instagram, is still basically zero.
"our nationwide obsession"? Her 1.2M followers is 0.4% of US internet users. Isn't this really just a media obsession?
I had no idea who this woman was when I first read the title.
I think there's an additional element to the not caring. The true crime buff might only see this as little more real than a mystery novel. That could be healthy though. A clinical treatment of the worlds evils is probably adaptive.
You make some good points, particularly about the ridiculous idea that people only cared because of her age and race (everything is about race, nowadays sadly).
I don't see, however, how and why is creating a narrative on social media is appreciably different from what we do in our real-life social interactions. Don't we all try to present ourselves in accordance with how we want others to perceive us? The way we dress, groom ourselves, speak, move, smell, style our hair etc., in preparation for say, a formal dinner (or whatever), is informed (explicitly or not) by how we want others to perceive us and our understanding of what is appropriate for a given situation. The same is true online when social media influencers (or anyone) posts content.
Sure, social media and digital interactions make it easier for us to more carefully control what we present to others, so it is certainly easier to misrepresent things. I don't think this outweighs all of the benefits we individually and as a society have gained through the spread of digital / social media however.
I would suggest the author spend some time looking into the multitude of video feeds from all sorts of folks who live full time in everything from cars to 55 foot motorhomes. Gabby wasn't an anomaly, nor was she what I would consider an 'influencer', she was one of hundreds of folks who were documenting their experiences as they traveled. I've seen everything from fun and informative to emotionally devastating personal revelations in these feeds, and the only 'influence' that I've had was understanding of the good and bad aspects of that lifestyle. Plus, we all shit, so shitting in a bucket is only a very small part of the life style, unless you are such a prude that you think your shit doesn't stink.
I would suggest that we're fascinated by Gabby only because she was killed, and since she left a substantial video record of her life, folks can gain whatever understanding can be had about this tragedy by watching it unfold. We 'gawk' at car wrecks we drive past, the only difference here is that the victim is able to talk to us prior to the 'accident.
Look up 'Fate Unbound' on the internet. A cute couple with pets that live fulltime in a travel trailer. No influence except sharing their lifestyle to those who are interested. If Gabby was more (or less) honest then they seem to be, so be it. But she wasn't an outlier in that community, she was one of them.
As if Rosenfeld doesn't make her own story and project it to her own chosen audience. We get it: you, the critic, get to place yourself above all audiences--Petito's YouTube audience, her actual audience (we gawkers), and the audience now reading about your higher standards. (Thanks for the courtesy "we," though.)
As for Petito's tragedy, well, they happen. People used to, you know, write plays about them and stuff. Julius Caesar was a real guy who got killed, he's also a fictional guy who gets killed. Just like Petito.
Social media is a curious phenomenon. Why is it we don't read the up close and personal stories of the children who get gunned down, often randomly, in the streets of Chicago every weekend? There is horror that we could obsess over, but we only obsess over the imaginary life we don't have? Petito's life we want, the little Chicago kid we don't don't care. We only want to watch the narrative with the Greek tragedy ending. Recommend everyone watch Being There with Peter Sellers in his final role, one that sums up where we are. "I like to watch."