The Gabby Petito case has made sparks when it comes to missing people, but some get more attention than others.
When Gabby Petitio’s case started making headlines, that was all that anyone was talking about. Even if you don’t follow true crime, everyone knows about this case. With Petito getting the media coverage that she did, it made it so that people were at least aware of her being gone. But Petitio is not the only missing person in the nation, so why was she the lucky one and others are not?
Petitio was found in Teton Park in W.Y. but Petito is not the only one in the area, let alone in the world who is missing. From all the news coverage, it brought attention to other missing people like Robert Lowery who went missing in the same area as Petito.
Petito’s case has also brought attention to how many missing people don’t get the attention that she did. In a KTVB 7 article, Tai Simpson, who is the director of Social Change for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, and is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe said “between 2011 and 2021, nearly 700 Indigenous women have gone missing in the same area that Petito went missing.” Simpson went on to say “nationally, there are 5,700 unsolved missing Indigenous person cases.”
The answer to these individuals did not get the attention they deserve has many factors like racial stereotyping. Another reason for the lack of attention to other missing cases is something called “missing white woman syndrome” which Andrea Marks describes in a Rolling Stone article as “media’s perceived fascination with white women who are missing or in danger, compared to their perceived disinterest in covering people of color in similar situations.”
It is also important to note that Petitio had a large social media presence with 129k subscribers on Youtube and 1.2 million on Instagram as of Oct. 2. With that big of a social media presence and followers seeing that something was wrong they were the ones that spread the word about her disappearance. This is partly why Petitos’ case became so large because of her large following.
But you don’t need to have a large social media presence in order to get attention, with the help of social media it can help spread information about missing people. Personally every time I get onto social media like Facebook or Twitter I see at least a couple posts about a missing person, even ones outside of WA and it only takes a second to reshare.
Petitos father, Joseph Petito, has acknowledged “the “influential” role that social media played in spreading awareness about his daughter’s case, adding that it helped bring her home. He went on to say “Social media was amazing and very influential, but to be honest it should continue for other people, too, this same type of awareness should be continued for everyone.”
The family has made The Gabby Petito Foundation which gives resources and guidance of bringing children home, and they hope the foundation will also help with not only missing kids but also adults.
No matter who you are and where you come from, all missing people matter and they and their families deserve closure. The least we can do as society is to share missing persons posts on social media when we see them, it takes a second of our time and that one share makes all the difference.