Living Off the Slab Blog
Lessons from the Sad Death of Gabby Petito | Can We Trust What We See?

Not too long ago, I jumped on the big K1600 and headed out for a day ride. My destination was the beach area around Narragansett Rhode Island by way of some beautiful back roads that wind their way through Connecticut and Rhode Island.

As is common, my mind started to wander as the lightness of traveling by motorcycle washed away thoughts of my personal troubles and frustrations. On this day, I began to think about the big news story for the week, which was the sad death of Gabby Petito.

As we now know, this young lady and her fiance had joined the thousands of would be YouTube stars by outfitting a van so they could share their experiences with the world, hopefully, becoming rich and famous in the process.

Their first posts were optimistic and exciting as they set out on their big adventure, but there was a darker side to the couple’s relationship, which ultimately resulted in Ms. Petito’s murder. At this point we do not know all the details, so I will not speculate further, but this incident did cause me to ponder this “virtual world” we are rushing to create for ourselves.

While this sad incident cannot be used to paint all "vloggers" or "van lifers" with a broad brush, and it is certainly not limited to those creating content for YouTube--just look at our so called news media--it does cause me to ask the question, is what we see on any given "influencer’s" channel the truth, or is it some made up ideal life designed to garner likes and views?

And by the way, I do see the irony of doing a post like this, and I do not leave this channel out of that criticism or discussion. I have always tried to be honest with my audience, showing the good and the bad that occur on every trip, but I have to say that there are things I do not show. For example, most of the time I am pretty easy going, but there are instances when I blow my stack and a few “f-bombs” have been known to be dropped. Typically I am not filming on those occasions, but if I was I would not include that kind of behavior as it is not very attractive and would make my videos less than family friendly. I would also not include footage that my traveling partners might find embarrassing.

On the other hand, I never shy away from showing you when I drop my bike, need to change my oil, do the laundry or have trouble finding food. These are not glamorous parts of travel, but they are ture to life.

This need to make our lives look amazing is not just the fault of the travel vlogger, we viewers are just as much if not more to blame. Let’s face it, we choose to follow attractive people who are seemingly having a great time in some exotic or beautiful location. Nobody wants to see unattractive people leading a normal, mundane existence.

While I know this is not true for my viewers, the result is that the collective WE have created a "virtual" world for ourselves where so called influencers create surreal visions of their amazing lives so that we can live vicariously through them in an attempt to forget just how small and uneventful our lives really are.

My goal with this channel has always been to encourage others to get out there and follow their dreams. I do not want people to sit at home and follow my exploits. Rather, I want to show you that it is possible to make the life you desire. For me this of course includes motorcycles, travel and seeing amazing things, but your dreams might be different and that is OK!

Before anyone sets out on the road to find themselves or become a famous video blogger, it is essential to understand that travel and being on the road is not all cookies and cream.

There will be long, hot, boring days.

There will be cold, rainy and miserable days.

There will be days when you cannot find a campsite or hotel.

There will be days when you will feel sick and have to hunker down in a lonely hotel room.

There will be days when you and your spouse do not see eye to eye.

There will be days when your bike breaks down and leaves you stranded on the side of the road.

But while traveling and overcoming these challenges, you will become stronger and the beauty of our natural world and the kindness of strangers will open your heart...if you let it.

Before you set out, you need to be realistic. It is not always the perfect life that is represented on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The old adage is true, "wherever you go, there you are." The baggage you carry with you can either be a blessing, in the form of experience, or it can be a detriment in the form of unhealed wounds.

Ride Safe My Friends!
--Craig Ripley

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