Mocking Ollie For Quitting Love Island Proves We’ve Learned Nothing About Mental Health
A Love Island contestant has ‘dramatically’ quit just three days into the first winter edition of the show, and let’s just say the reporting has been less than kind.
Ollie Williams caused a stir before he even entered the villa – unbeknown to him – when a series of photos emerged, showing him grinning behind the carcasses of some of the world’s most endangered species.
There were calls for ITV to boot him off the show before the series even started, an online petition titled ‘Remove Ollie Williams from Winter Love Island for Trophy Hunting!’ amassed more than 30,000 signatures, and his presence in the villa accrued 231 Ofcom complaints.
In his VT, Ollie made no secret of his wealth, opening with the fact he’s heir to the Lanhydrock Estate in Cornwall.
‘When my dad dies, I’m going to be a lord,’ he gleefully brags, before adding that his next door neighbours are famously Prince Charles and Camilla.
‘I definitely would describe myself as wealthy,’ he said (er, duh!), ‘but I don’t like to brag about it.’
And while things didn’t get off to the best start for Ollie outside the villa, things didn’t exactly go well for him inside either, after no girls stepped forward for him on the initial coupling.
Now, it’s being reported the 23-year-old has walked out of the villa after just three days on the ITV dating show, allegedly after realising he’s still in love with his ex-girlfriend.
The news of his departure has been met with joy from thousands of social media users who have slammed ITV for allowing a trophy hunter the opportunity to take part in the show in the first place, and the internet storm of hate towards him shows no sign of abating.
But the onslaught of anti-Ollie abuse piling up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds leaves me wondering, have we learned nothing from the past?
Let me just tell you that I believe trophy hunting is absolutely abhorrent, and I must admit I shuddered when I first saw the picture of Ollie posing behind the dead body of the world’s largest antelope. You couldn’t pay me enough money to sit here and defend a ‘sport’ I personally find utterly disgusting.
But before we go ahead and ‘cancel’ Ollie, I am a firm believer in allowing someone to explain themselves before casting a guilty verdict in the social media courtroom.
A representative for Ollie has defended the pictures, claiming he only takes part in conservation hunting, telling the Mirror:
Ollie is a passionate conservationist and worked with an anti-poaching unit in Mozambique.
Conservation is crucial to the survival of animals and as part of that work Ollie was involved in the culling of sick animals who were a threat to the health of the herd.
There is a very big and important difference between trophy hunting and the conservation work Ollie has previously been involved in.
At no point has Ollie organised or booked anybody to go to Africa to shoot game.
Now, I have no idea if that’s true, but what I do know is that we have to learn from the past.
As an avid Love Island fan, I – along with thousands of others – was devastated to learn of the death of series two contestant Sophie Gradon. Her tragic death, which was ruled as suicide by a coroner, prompted several former Islanders to come forward and say the aftercare provided by ITV was inadequate in preparing them for life post-Love Island.
But it wasn’t until last year, when series three’s Mike Thalassitis tragically took his own life, that ITV implemented a new lifelong aftercare system to help prepare Islanders for life after finding fame on the reality show.
It was then that influencers and social media users alike began to sit up and take notice of the impact strangers’ words online can have on peoples’ lives.
Both Sophie and Mike’s deaths caused a ripple throughout the world of reality TV and social media, and we all vowed to be kinder to one another over fears of what drastic consequences could come of our judgemental words.
When it comes to Ollie, there’s absolutely no question we must scrutinise him and by all means call him out for trophy hunting, because that’s the best way to help people see the errors of their ways and to make better decisions in the future.
But we must distinguish the difference between calling someone out for doing something completely sh*tty but allowing them the chance to respond, and attacking someone without giving any opportunity for explanation.
For me personally, I would love Ollie to come out and rethink his attitude and beliefs toward trophy hunting off the back of the public’s response, and at this stage we have no idea how he will respond, so I won’t make any judgement on that yet.
However, what I will say is we have learned of the detrimental effects our words can have on influencers and celebrities’ mental health, no matter how far removed they seem from us.
Before we all start bullying someone who most of us never have – and never will – meet, let’s give him the right to respond and then fairly scrutinise his actions from then.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on its anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. It’s open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Its national number is 0800 58 58 58, and it also has a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.