Common Tread

What price internet fame? Russian Instagram star dies in crash

Aug 03, 2017

As Monika9422 on Instagram, she attracted a six-figure following with photos and videos of herself riding fast on her BMW S 1000 RR, or posing beside it, usually in clothes that were revealing, not protective. She died this week, her BMW wedged into a guard rail when she crashed while working on another video.

In real life, she was 40-year-old Olga Pronina, the mother of a teenage daughter, and she lived in Vladivostok, Russia.

Of course there are plenty of attractive women using social media to gain a bit of fame that they never could have had in earlier times. Pronina just mixed the usual recipe of racy outfits and poses with a fast motorcycle and some mild stunts. Some said she died doing what she loved, and that's not the worst thing that can happen to you. Others said that she left her daughter a poor legacy: being an orphan, with provocative videos to remember her mother by.

I'm not even going to enter that debate. But this death reminded me of another story we posted recently, when stunt rider Kyle Katsandris was critically injured while practicing for another controversial video. And that makes me wonder: How much of this risky behavior would happen anyway, and we only see it because of social media, and how much of it only happens because social media creates potential rewards for it?

Since some people are now making a decent living through YouTube videos, social media posts and the revenue they can spin off from their modest fame (not to mention other opportunities that may come to you once you have thousands of people following you), there's incentive to keep the flow of posts coming and hang on to the fickle interest of internet viewers. But even those who aren't going to become famous or earn a penny are exposing themselves, just for the notoriety.

As just one random example of that, as I was looking through some other videos while thinking about this story, I came across this video of a wheelie gone too far, posted by a kid on Reddit.

Sure, young guys have been crashing for years while doing wheelies. That's not new. But now they have more incentive to try, and his friend making sure to continue filming instead of checking to see if the rider is hurt is reflective of a new priority.

Pronina's Instagram motto was "Don't try to change me," and nobody did. She has gained thousands more followers since her death than most people will ever have. I'm just not sure what those new followers are expecting to see.