Mother of girl who fell to her death, reportedly in search of a good selfie, speaks about social media culture

The mother talked about Instagram attention and trolls.


Instagram started out as a fun and by and large happy and pleasant, inspirational even, online place where people shared their photos, while mostly applying some “cool” filters to “enhance” them. But that age of innocence and questionable, if entirely harmless creativity is now long gone.

In 2012, Facebook acquired the start-up for then an unprecedented at the time one billion dollars – but it became obvious very quickly that the app would have to start earning its keep. Ever since, Instagram has been morphing into an ever-more ruthlessly and recklessly commercial space, giving rise to the phenomenon of influencers – people either rising to their fame on Instagram, or using Instagram to further their real-world status.

Today, between various forms of censorship and restrictions on user-freedoms and actually creative content, and spawning a new caste of dubious celebrity – the platform seems destined to be turning ever more murky, dark, and ultimately, just flat-out unappealing.

The New York Post has a chilling report, about a 21-year-old “Instagram model” – a British woman who fell to her death on Sunday from a cliff in Australia, reportedly in search of a good selfie, in a spot already notoriously known as “a selfie cliff” in Sydney's Diamond Bay Reserve.

The young woman's family are now publicly – once again, on Instagram – fighting off “nasty trolls” – those who had been the audience of the victim, Madalyn Davis, before her untimely death.

Mocking comments online are now referring to Davis – whom one family friend said was appearing to be “sitting on the cliff edge to have her picture taken when she fell” – as – “stupid.”

The victim's mother's first instinct seemed to have been to argue with Instagram commenters.

“My daughter was not self-obsessed, she was a wonderful beautiful person that made a mistake. How can you write such things? She has a little sister and brother who (are) reading this,” the woman, Rebecca Davis, wrote on her daughter's account – before the post disappeared and the account was finally made private.

But another of Rebecca Davis' Instagram posts was, according to the report, still visible, and had this message:

“Maddy (Madalyn) once said the first time she got trolled, ‘Mom, this is a good thing. The more people comment, the better my profile is.' So fill your boots, you nasty people. You are the one that has to sleep with (yourself) at night.”

“She always wanted to be famous, so thank you trolls. You are making this happen,” the mother apparently wrote.

It would seem that neither social media, their users, old-timey tabloids – nor indeed, the victims' own family and friends themselves – have much interest anymore in allowing for a grieving process that's not broadcast live on the internet.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]