These past few days, it seems like every time you open up social media or turn on the news, it’s flooded with the latest on the Gabby Petito story. I will admit that I got sucked into the mystery and minute-by-minute happenings of press conferences and articles. As a lover of all things Crime Junkie, I like to dig a little deeper into these high-profile cases and form my own opinions on what happened. It’s been no different for this story. But I also began to think, What is it about this story that has everyone so hooked? What can I learn from Gabby?
By all accounts, Gabby Petito was living a picture-perfect life and living out her dreams. Her social media accounts are flooded with beautiful locations, a smile that appears so genuine and vibrant, and a boyfriend that seems to love her and the life they’re building. But her story has proven that what you see online is not always what’s real. Her life obviously had a dark side in contrast to the idyllic presence she posted for the world to see. This is something I think about often. With social media being such a huge part of everyday life, it’s easy to get sucked into thinking that the influencers and those with a huge following actually live the life portrayed through the filtered lens. Comparison can indeed be a thief of joy. I’ve had to unfollow and reexamine my online presence on several occasions because of this. Gabby documenting only the good should give us all pause as we scroll and feel pings of jealousy. All that is gold does not glitter.
As new details are uncovered and information comes to light, I keep thinking about Gabby’s family. While I don’t have to worry yet about sending my children off into the world without my mama cloak of protection, I cannot imagine if Gabby was my daughter and this was my reality. Would I wish I had done anything differently? In our #metoo world, I’ve seen many circulating posts that discuss teaching our sons to treat women with respect, to not abuse, to learn the word “no”, and to be better. I want to take that further and say that we need to teach our children (boys and girls) about toxic relationships. I think I can venture to say that we all know someone (or maybe that someone is you) who has been in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, a friend, or a family member. They can be dangerous, life-sucking, and often invisible to others. We need to teach our children the dangers and signs of these types of relationships to avoid possible tragedy. Let’s give our children the tools and the mindset to be a part of relationships that are life-giving. Going along with that, teach them that therapy is okay. Reaching out for help is okay. And not being okay is okay.
Gabby Petito’s story has captivated millions and left us wondering “how” and “why”. The perplexities of the family and the perpetrator seem to be an area that grips folks. So many question marks still remain, but one thing that’s certain is that TikTokers, Redditors, and even reality TV stars have run rampant in this case. Some have even aided law enforcement in uncovering clues and leads, but some sleuths just seem to be in it for the attention. My question is, what can we do to bring attention to the hundreds of missing or murdered people’s cases that don’t receive the same intense recognition as Gabby’s? The Gabby Petito story is highlighting the “missing white woman syndrome” that some of those sleuths cling to. But there are so many others who don’t fit into that narrative and whose stories don’t reach public ears at all. The point is not to see Gabby’s story as any less important, but we also need to elevate the stories of victims who don’t match that paradigm. I’m continuing to think about ways I can “involve” myself in positive ways instead of just being true crime obsessed. I don’t want to go down the Reddit rabbit holes of the cases that have garnered every ounce of media coverage, but instead shift my mindset to give aid or voice to those that are people of color, minorities, or voiceless that fall through the cracks.
I pray that Gabby gets the justice she deserves. And I hope that in the midst of her tragedy, the Gabby Petito story can teach us all something.