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Dancing On Ice winner and I’m A Celeb star Jake Quickenden was delighted to announce he’s expecting his first child with girlfriend Sophie Church earlier this month.
But the 32-year-old’s smile was soon turned upside down when thousands of good wishes were overshadowed by a troll who tweeted, “Hope ur gf loses the baby.”
Jake was, understandably, outraged by the comment and replied, “Never thought a tweet would make me feel sick, if only you knew how hurtful this is not only to us but so many other people!!! Please grow the F**k up quickly.”
The abuse struck a particular chord with the couple, who while announcing their pregnancy had also revealed they’d previously suffered a miscarriage. And it’s not the only tragedy Jake has received abuse over – his dad Paul died from a rare form of bone cancer in 2008, while his brother Oliver died four years later at 19 from a more common form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma.
Jake Quickenden slams vile troll who 'hopes his pregnant girlfriend has a miscarriage'
Jake Quickenden announces his girlfriend Sophie Church is pregnant with their first child together
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When new magazine catch up with Jake, he’s happy to support the one-year anniversary of their #TurnOffTrolls campaign to encourage people to be kinder online.
“There’s a difference between having an opinion and slaughtering someone for no reason,” he tells new. “If someone has an opinion on me and they’ve met me, then fair enough. But don’t say, ‘I hope your girlfriend loses her baby.’ There’s a fine line.”
Here, Jake reveals the impact trolling has on his mental health, the celeb support he’s received and his plans to protect his child from the toxicity of social media…
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Hi Jake. Why are you supporting the #TurnOffTrolls campaign?
It’s a brilliant thing to do. Even though trolls think it’s not a massive deal to call somebody names or have an opinion on something that doesn’t actually involve them, the effect it can have on the people they’re saying it to is so huge. A lot of people say it doesn’t bother them, but it will do. I say it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it does. The odd one I get I’ll be like, “How can another human being say that to somebody?” I think it’s important to get rid of it, but I don’t think it will ever stop and that’s the world we’re in. There are always people who are going to have opinions or think they should be able to throw their 10 pence in, when they haven’t got any right to.
You received a vile tweet saying, “Hope your gf loses the baby.” How did it make you feel?
It made me lose faith in humanity. Everybody goes through these horrible things – it’s not just me. People lose people to illnesses and cancer, thousands of families have gone through miscarriages and it hurts so bad. For somebody to wish death on somebody who’s not in the world yet – I don’t know how that can go through people’s minds. I actually feel sorry for the person who said it because they must be really troubled themselves to even think of something like that. But if I was sitting opposite them in a pub, would they say that to me? Probably not.
How did Sophie react?
I told her about it and she said, “That’s disgusting.” But she’s quite resilient, Soph. And she went, “Who cares what they think?” She tells me a lot of the time, “Jake, stop arguing with them. That’s what they want.” But I can’t. If somebody says something that I don’t agree with I’m going to fire back at them. Maybe I should chill, but it’s hard. I don’t want to have to bite my tongue. Why should I?
Did you get a lot of support from the public?
Gosh, yes. People were surprised and were like, “You’ve just had some good news. What gives them the right to troll?” I will say 99 per cent of comments were support and well wishes, but that one per cent is what you focus on because you think, “Why do I deserve that?” Maybe we have to change our mindset and not focus on the shit, but as human beings we focus on the negatives.
Is this the worst trolling you’ve ever had?
That tweet was the most shocking. I’ve had people say, “Stop going on about your dead brother.” But I’m never going to stop going on about somebody I love.
And why should you! Has it ever affected your mental health?
I’m quite resilient and I just take the piss out of the people that do it. But there’s been the odd time where I’ve thought, “I need to step back from my social media, because it’s doing no good for my head and anxiety.” If I feel a bit anxious I’ll stay off my social media or go to the gym. It was only so long ago we did the whole ‘Be Kind’ movement and then everyone forgets about it.
Have you spoken to any other celebrities about trolling?
Jordan Banjo messaged me and said, “It’s disgusting.” I know he’s received a lot of trolling over the Diversity stuff [their Black Lives Matter performance on BGT]. He’s a good friend of mine and he’s such a lovely lad – I don’t know why anyone would troll him.
What do you think motivates trolls?
I honestly don’t know, but it’s a reflection on themselves. They’re obviously really negative and really unhappy and they try to bring others down. If you’re positive and look on the bright side of life, you’ll automatically stop doing that. Why wouldn’t you want to lift somebody else up? If you make a fake account to purposely troll, you need to have a serious look at yourself.
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What would you say to a troll if you met them?
If I came face-to-face with the guy that said that about the baby, then I’d probably be in prison. That’s not a good thing because that’s not me as a person. But saying that I’d probably shit my pants and do nothing. Actually, I’d probably be sound with them and tell them, “You haven’t got a reason to dislike me, mate!”
Have you ever considered quitting social media?
Nah – I would never let anyone win and if I did that then they’d win. If you don’t like what I do on social media, then don’t follow me.
As a father-to-be and a stepfather to Sophie’s son Freddie, do you worry about your children growing up in the social media age?
Yeah, because it’s how you’re judged nowadays. You shouldn’t be defined by how many followers you’ve got or how many likes you’ve got. If they want social media, they won’t be getting it until they’re at least 16 and then I’ll really make sure that they won’t get any trolling. But they probably will because everyone does. It’s not just people in the public eye.
Finally, what can be done to protect people online?
You should need to input personal details to even be able to have an account – a passport or some ID – and you should need to put your address in. Then if you troll, the police can do something about it and punish you.
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