So it looks like it’s time for that discussion again – it’s time to talk about spoilers. Or rather, when is it appropriate to openly post about them?
It’s all very subjective. Do you wait until an episode has aired? Do you wait for the DVDs to be released? Or is it fair game because you read the story years ago and new fans are just now catching on through a new medium?
I’ll say this right now: if you want to go to a specific forum and yell from the top of your typing lungs about what has happened on your favorite show, then go right ahead. That’s what those sites are there for, and any viewer who goes there should have full knowledge that they are not safe from spoilers unless it’s implicitly specified. Therefore, I’m going to try and keep this directed towards social media, as that seems to be where most of the current contention lies.
This isn’t meant to be specifically about Game of Thrones, but I can’t deny that this post wasn’t inspired by the Monday morning rage I saw expressed across Facebook and Twitter. This show in particular has a problem with fans “spiking the ball.” The series was in book-form first, and major plotlines were available to be experienced by the readers years ago. That’s not really the problem though. Hell, it’s great to see a property that you enjoy come to a larger medium and gain tremendous success. Millions of people have been pulled into a story that you’ve long enjoyed and they can’t wait to see what happens next.
And once they start to catch up to the “big events,” it’s natural to want to step in and say that what you saw was great, and that this is what you’ve been going on about for years. And that’s OK too, really. But you first have to consider where you say that, and directly in the headline of a post is the wrong place.
Some fans have suggested a week-long moratorium before openly discussing spolier-ish events. A friend of mine said 3 days. Another said the following evening.
But another remorselessly posted the ending to a series finale on Facebook within 12 hours of it airing. When his friend Mr. DVR (who had every intent on watching said episode when they had the time) called this person out, the poster’s response was “you should know better than to check the Internet after a finale like that.”
Let me show you something:
Is CNN (sorry, couldn’t help it). See the fourth line from the bottom? It’s a simple headline for an article discussing a big episode the day after it aired. Someone checking the site would see that and think: “Huh? Guess something must have happened. I really like that show, I wonder if I should click that?” And if they do click on it, that’s on them. You still need to retain a modicum of common sense not to be spoiled, but the point is it’s not labeled “Jamie Lannister Mauled by Smurfs!” or “King Joffery Finds Jesus and Saves the Realm!”
With this in mind, I would suggest that you sincerely try to gauge your audience and make a judgment call on whether it’s a good idea to blurt something out without considering the conseqeuences.
You see, anyone can peruse the Interwebs perfectly well without spoiling themselves, even if they’re just checking the daily news. But people go to social networks to socialize. Social media has given us personal digital soapboxes that allow us to vent about whatever is on our minds to (most) of the people we care about. So if you type-yell something, they’ll see it. If you post a meme or animated GIF, it’s hard for them to ignore it. If you make some offhand remark about last night’s episode, even if you don’t think it’s a spoiler, chances are it is.
It comes down to this: do you want to spoil things for your friends? With knowledge of a recently watched episode or a fully read series, you can ruin a lot of things for a lot of people just by adhereing to the idea that what you’re talking about is already known by many. Just try to remember though, these are your “friends” right? Do you really want to ruin an amazing reveal and rob people of that same overwhelming joy,sadness or anger you felt?
These are your friends. Don’t spike the ball.