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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Actor Leaves Twitter Following Backlash

After Bandersnatch backlash, brand-new Black Mirror beau — a Brit! — bids bye-bye to big social site. 

Sadly, that silly statement isn't just a tongue-twister. It's totally true. 

British actor Will Poulter has announced that he's leaving Twitter in light of the response to his involvement in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the interactive event film that premiered on Netflix at the end of December. The 25-year-old star, who portrayed the platinum-haired video game designer Colin Ritman in Bandersnatch, posted a heartfelt message to his Twitter page on Wednesday, January 2, explaining that he wants to focus his attention on bettering his mental health.

"In light of my recent experiences I am choosing to take a step back, of sorts, from Twitter," he opened. "Before I do, I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has watched Bandersnatch and for their responses (whatever they may be) to the material we created. I accept all criticisms and it's been a delight to learn that so many of you enjoyed what many people worked very hard to produce!"

Poulter then pivoted to address the pros and cons of social media — the good and bad aspects that come with interacting with others online on scales of all size, from his 370,000-plus Twitter followers to pages with just a few hundred to the millions and millions of people that celebrities like Kim Kardashian reach each and every day, and the ways in which we express our thoughts and opinions in the digital space.

"As we all know there is a balance to be struck in our engagements with social media. There are positives to enjoy and inevitable negatives that are best avoided. It's a balance I have struggled with for a while now and in the interest of my mental health I feel the time has come to change my relationship with social media," he wrote. 

Poulter was quick to make clear his appreciation for those who have enjoyed not only Bandersnatch but also his past works like We're the Millers, The Maze Runner trilogy, The Revenant, and Detroit. "I don't want to appear unappreciative of all the amazing support I have received online for which I am genuinely so grateful, nor do I want my disengagement with social media to be at the expense of any of the organizations I am lucky to work with," the actor stated, also noting that he will "still be posting occasionally" for The Diana Award's Anti-Bullying Programme, the youth charity that provides conflict management programs Leap Confronting Conflict, the International Society of Hypertension's high blood pressure awareness organization May Measure, and London's Blueprint Theatre Company.

Ever the self-aware guy, Poulter wrote that he understands he is "privileged" to have access to the platform that he does, and hopes that his time away from Twitter will benefit him, his fans, and even his haters. 

"I hope this shift to reduce my personal expression and increase the focus on issues that matter will result in a better outcome for everyone," said Poulter. 

To sign off, the actor assured that he hasn't quit Twitter for good and made a cheeky reference to Bandersnatch's choose-your-own-ending storytelling approach: "This is not the end. Consider it an alternative path. With love, Will."

With critics having applauded the film as "Black Mirror's most disturbing episode yet" — a "hard-to-define, but impossible to forget, experience" that is "unlike anything you've ever seen in this medium" and that "makes you think in ways that only a show as dark and existential as Black Mirror can" — it's clear that the reactions to Bandersnatch that led Poulter to say sayonara to his social media don't have much to do with the content itself. Rather, this appears a classic case of bullying and Twitter trolling, with foul-mouthed and sour-spirited people sending hate Poulter's way for his physical appearance and for the way he looked as Colin in the movie. People aren't hating on Bandersnatch so much as they are hating on Poulter himself. 

Following the film's debut on Netflix, Twitter users began comparing Poulter to the sadistic bully Sid from the Toy Story franchise, and calling him a "skinny white ugly boy," "one of the most ugliest men I've ever seen," and "gross." 

Instead of continuing to subject himself to such intense animosity, Poulter chose to step away — and his supporters are stepping in to condemn those who lobbed vitriol his way and drove him off social media. Many have highlighted Poulter's activism and outspokenness — namely in speaking out against whitewashing, openly discussing mental health, working with charitable organizations, and supporting the LGBT+ community — and argued that he doesn't deserve the hate he has received. 

"Will Poulter constantly criticises whitewashing, criticises the media for not calling white shooters 'terrorists', uses his IG to spread awareness about charities/NGOs, constantly volunteers in said charities/NGOs, etc. but y'all only want to focus on how 'ugly' you think he is," one Twitter user wrote after Poulter announced his plans to leave Twitter. They added, "I'm not saying he should be praised, I'm not saying you should find him attractive, I'm just tired of seeing people being mean to him JUST BECAUSE they find him ugly."

Another tweeted, "Y'all called Will Poulter ugly [because you] forget people on this site, ESPECIALLY CELEBRITIES have feelings and now he's stepping back from Twitter [because you] guys affected his mental health that badly. Another example of how y'all do not care about men's mental health."

"Ironic that Will Poulter openly campaigns to end bullying and you're here calling him ugly??" someone else wrote. "Your hypocritical sides are showing."

And another: "Look what you a**holes did. Will Poulter is such a nice dude and everyone gave him so much s*** because he was a white dude not everyone found attractive. I think you guys forget celebrities have feelings too."

Sadly, Poulter isn't the first (and unfortunately won't be the last) celebrity to call it quits on social media after getting hit with hatred. 

The sinister side of the Star Wars fandom pushed both Daisy Ridley, who portrays the Force-sensitive could-be Jedi Rey, and Kelly Marie Tran, who made her saga debut as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, off social media altogether. Ruby Rose recently waved goodbye to her Twitter account following negative responses to her casting as Batwoman on for both the recent Arrowverse crossover event and her very own CW solo series, which just received a pilot order on January 3. Other celebrities who have taken time away from social media platforms post bullying include Millie Bobby Brown, Ed Sheeran, and Pete Davidson

The only bits of good news to come out of this situation are that Poulter will eventually return to Twitter and that the actor has countless people who rallying behind him. It's just unfortunate that this time around their voices weren't loud enough to drown out the sounds of the naysayers.