Why the disappearance in the US also affects here: ‘Everyone wants to know how it ends’

Why the disappearance in the US also affects here: 'Everyone wants to know how it ends'

Gabrielle, aka Gabe, left in July with partner Brian Laundry (23) on a US tour. On September 1, Laundry returned without Gabe. Her family reported the missing person to the police.

Recently, Laundry seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Earlier this week, police found a body during a search. The FBI reported yesterday that it is missing Gabe. She was murdered with a crime.

“Stirrings of the story”

The fact that the remarkable missing person case is receiving so much attention in the Netherlands is likely a coincidence, says Yolanda Veldhees, media psychologist at VU University Amsterdam. “In the Netherlands, it seems that Gabriel’s story found its way by chance.”

But now that it is over, he will still be in the spotlight as there are many question marks surrounding the matter. “When I saw the news, I also thought: How is it going to end? What happened to the friend? I immersed myself in this story. It’s a great story about youth. This excites.”

She says Gabriel and her boyfriend shared their lives on social media. “If that’s also in the coverage, people there will be looking for it.” This makes the story personal. “She takes a face, there’s a video of the girl crying. People don’t seem to be far away anymore. The more you see someone, the more you think you know someone. That’s why you start to empathize.”

don’t be confused

Then you see it initially appear on social media, then suddenly stops, says Veldweiss. “The mystery isn’t over, so the story isn’t over. It’s like a movie: you want to know what the ending is. It becomes a task that you can watch. And that generates great engagement.”

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This also plays a role: “We always wonder if the life that influencers show is really real,” says Alexander Skutin, associate professor of business communications and digital media at Tilburg University. According to Schouten, the contrast between life viewed on Instagram and real life is fascinating.

“Gabriel looked happy in all the pictures, but one video showed there was more to it. We see perfect people with perfect lives. We know it’s not perfect. And when we get confirmation of it, we think it’s interesting.” . “

Reporter Eric Motan says Gabrielle’s online life is one of the reasons the story has gained so much attention in the United States. “Through all the photos you share, you see a life that you can identify with. You sit on a boat, you walk. It’s recognizable. As a follower, you have the feeling that you’re getting intimate with it.”

In addition, it is a little quieter in terms of news. “We’ve had a year full of epidemics, elections and the storming of Parliament. This is something different.”

Mathan says there is now a debate in the US about all the interest in the issue. “Some people point out that the disappearance of a beautiful white woman appears to get more attention than it does when it happens to black women. This is considered worse, possibly due to bias among journalists who write. This phenomenon has been described as the ‘missing-white woman syndrome’.”


Then there are the questions that remain about the disappearance. “People can join the puzzle. You see them searching social media for clues, looking at photos. This did, and it didn’t. There are voices around people going to the place where Gabriel disappeared to look for him.”

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Mathan says the police sometimes don’t like it, but the interesting thing about this case is that the police don’t focus on that. “The police said people even helped in some areas. That made it sort of a national investigation where people could keep an eye. And that’s appealing.”

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