At this point in time, anyone who hasn't heard about missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer must be living in an underground cave. Or be completely oblivious to all types of social media.
Lauren, a 20 year old girl from New York was last seen June 3rd walking home from a friend's apartment at 4:30 in the morning. She had left her shoes and cell phone in a bar she had patronized earlier. Since her disappearance the media attention has exploded through the use of Facebook, Twitter and of course television and the internet.
One tweet from Ryan Seacrest alerts 4.6 million people of her disappearance. A Facebook page circulating has alerted 177,000 people of it. The news coverage is continuous. I think this is fantastic. I pray for her parents who I know have to be living in a 24-7 nightmare of torture and fear.
Other celebrities have tweeted of the disappearance making tens of millions of people aware. What I am really wondering though is why this type of attention is only given to select missing persons. Believe me, the more people that are aware the better. My daughter asked me what tweeting it would do not thinking that it was possible Lauren might have been taken out of Indiana. For every person that knows, no matter where they live, that is one more person that can possibly help.
So why the differentiation in missing person cases? It makes no sense to me at all as I am just now reading of the disappearance of another female from Bloomington, IN last September. Her body was found 2 weeks later in a cornfield just outside the city. Her mother, while happy for Lauren's parents that the media is all over her disappearance, wonders why her daughter did not receive the same attention. I wonder why too.
I wrote in the last two weeks about my daughters traveling out of the country. I was a paranoid, freaked out wreck. If I didn't hear from them for a certain period of time I was popping Xanax to calm myself down. My older daughter graduated from Indiana University and lived in the same building as Lauren Spierer; frequented the same bar she was last known to be at. I worried about her safety daily and heaven forbid anything had happened to her, I would have hoped for the same attention.
But why in the world do we not give everyone equal media/social media exposure if they are missing? Googling this question I came across what is known as "Missing White Woman's Syndrome" or "Missing Pretty Girl Syndrome" (found on Wikipedia). Can this really be the case? Are our pretty, affluent white girls more important than others? Is the media so selective?
If so, and if you read statistics, it would appear to be true. This makes me sick. Any parent of a missing child can't think of anything other than finding that child alive. They pray for help, any help they can get in the search.
This current case of Lauren Spierer has now set the bar for what every parent of a future missing child should expect. I hate knowing in my heart of all the children that will go missing but it's inevitable. How will the media decide who gets more attention? Do they have a checklist??
When Laci Peterson went missing in December of 2002, the media attention was everywhere. It was a nationwide sensation. Not many people knew about a black female who was also pregnant, Latoyia Figuerio of Philadelphia, that went missing at the same time. Her family begged the media to allow her the same attention. It never happened.
I am a white female with daughters who are educated and attractive. This does not give me the right to expect or receive more media attention if heaven forbid a thousand times, anything ever happened to them. I am sure that Lauren's parents are more than grateful for the attention and did not demand it. I can't pray hard enough that they find their daughter alive.
I do feel that in the future that based on the outpouring of attention for Lauren, the media and all it's outlets need to reevaluate how they approach missing persons. There cannot and should not be such obvious selectivity. Our children should all be viewed as equally important no matter the race, ethnicity or socio-economic class. But that is wishing to live in a perfect world. One can hope, one can pray.
And we all continue to pray for the Spierer family. I hope they find Lauren soon; and alive.
Posted March 6, 2014 at 9:51 am
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