Social media has given us access to a means of almost instantaneous communication with the world around us. That can have its advantages and disadvantages. One of the emerging disadvantages is the increase in spoilers available on the internet. You’ve had it happen to you before. One of your friends makes a post on facebook loudly proclaiming “I can’t believe they killed so and so.” or “Did you see when X beat the crap out of Y?! Awesome!” You then respond with the obligatory “Thanks for spoiling the movie.” So is the effect of social media. Reactions to anything are almost instantaneous and our newsfeeds fill with post after post perpetuating this vicious cycle.
This cycle also sparks the debate of social acceptability. When is it appropriate to discuss such things on social media and how can we talk about them? Several recent events including Game of Thrones season 2, The Avengers, and likely the upcoming season of True Blood, have and will see many seeing red as they see spoilers posted online.
It’s natural to want to talk about a show or a movie you saw. The world of social media provides an instantaneous proverbial office water cooler to chat and discuss what you saw with all of friends across the world. A drawback to this is that not everyone can see the show or movie at the same time you did. Many have jobs that require them to work during prime time hours. Not everyone can afford to go out and see a movie at the midnight premiere or even opening day. That is the inherent problem as people post the good parts and many times lay out whole scenes before other fans can watch. Many say this takes the suspense out when they do get to watch.
Many are attached to the social media world and have a hard time avoiding it. Avoiding the online world is a recommended action to avoid spoilers, but it is not a fair method to take. Many, such as myself, have to be connected to the social world. We find news, build connections, and have other reasons to actively monitor a social network. Having numerous connections means we are more likely to encounter spoilers.
Now there is a way to talk about something online and not post a direct spoiler. At the bare minimum, you should begin your post with the words “Potential Spoilers Ahead”. This will tell someone to not read any further on your post and go straight to the next. Reactionary posts are fine. You can say it was great and things like that, but please do not post a full play by play of the scene (you can save those for the comments section at a bare minimum proceeded by “Spoilers in Comments”).
Another helpful tip is to wait until at least the next day to provide commentary on a television show. This allows most viewers to watch something after work to get caught up. With a movie, I would recommend waiting until after the weekend opening at a minimum to into detail. That will provide a good chunk of viewers time to see the film.
The main theme comes down to a little bit of courtesy. Just give us a chance to see something before gushing on and and on about it. We’d love the chance to join in on the conversation. We just want to be prepared to enjoy the moment with you.
One thought on “Social Media and the Age of Spoilers”
It’s never even occurred to me to spoil stuff on Facebook or Twitter, so I’m not sure why some people think it’s okay. If I want to discuss stuff, I go to a forum or IMDb, where there are spoiler tags… for a good reason. Usually the people who spoil stuff are the people who don’t participate in online communities.