Stephen Fry: Leaving Twitter is a “massive relief, like a boulder rolling off my chest. I am free, free at last”

"Too many people have peed in the pool," says the star, who quit the social media site following criticism of a joke he made while hosting the Baftas

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Stephen Fry has confirmed that he has left Twitter, describing the social media site as “a secret bathing-pool in a magical glade” that has become “stagnant… frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish.”

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Fry deactivated his account following the critical, and in some cases abusive, reaction he received to a joke he made about a Film Bafta winner during his hosting duties at the ceremony.

In comments to the audience following her award acceptance, Fry described Best Costume Design winner Jenny Beaven as having come to the ceremony “dressed as a bag lady” but later defended the quip as an affectionate “joshing” between friends, tweeting “So just a word to the tragic figures who think calling Jenny Bevan a bag lady was an insult. She’s a dear friend and she got it. Derrr.”

Without direct reference to the incident, Fry wrote on his website that Twitter was now “a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.

“It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same.”

Fry admitted that the “foul people” on Twitter are a minority but said that “just one turd in a reservoir is enough to persuade one not to drink from it”.

He added that “the trolls and nasties” were “welcome to” Twitter: “Perhaps then they’ll have nothing to smell but their own smell.”

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He concluded by expressing his relief at his decision to leave, writing “I don’t feel anything today other than massive relief, like a boulder rolling off my chest. I am free, free at last.”