This weekend I have managed to enjoy television afresh, normally I am unable to watch event TV at the same time as the masses so have to live in fear of the internet and spoilers. In the age of the internet spoilers seem inevitable, so what should be the etiquette around them? Is the burden of silence on those in the know or those avoiding the news? When is it acceptable to talk about something without fear of ruining the surprise?
Gone are the days where it was easy to avoid spoilers, before the internet all you had to do was look away from the screen when instructed or steer clear of magazines announcing the latest news about your favourite TV show. Then came fan sites which had ‘exclusive’ information on the future plans for a series, I remember avidly pouring over Buffy the Vampire Slayer sites in the hope of finding out what will happen to the Scoobies and whether Spike would be making a guest appearance.
Even though it was on the internet there was still only really one way to pass on spoilers to your friends, you had to talk to them. I remember having conversations where I asked people did they want to know what I knew. I had to push the information to them directly, there was no way that I could just broadcast the information indiscriminately.
Today, that process is much easier. Whether it is by Facebook or Twitter, social media has allowed the spoiler to proliferate. Someone’s died in Downton Abbey, then all it takes is 30 seconds and a hundred and forty characters to announce it to a few hundred people. Inevitably there will be many who don’t care, those who are experiencing with you, and those who are planning on finding out later (as well as those who live in different regions which are still waiting for the episode).
Don’t blame me if you’re spoiled
This is the issue with time-shifted viewing, with the ease of catch-up-TV there is no need to watch a show when it’s broadcast. You can watch it an hour later, or even days after if you are busy. The water-cooler dynamics are broken here, can the hundreds who know be required to keep quiet to prevent those in the dark from having their enjoyment ruined? How do you know who knows the unknown, or is the best etiquette for nobody to ever talk about event TV on social media sites?
If I don’t want to know a sports score I’ll stay away from any news site that may tell me, but if someone texts me about a result I am avoiding without telling them do I have the right to act hard-done by? Take the F1 result at the weekend, the race took place in the early hours of the morning and there was a full replay at Sunday lunchtime. Both Ma G and Brother-in-Law G both wanted to watch the race without knowing the result, and I know this is the case. So I mentioned nothing about it. If I had said the same thing on Facebook then it would have been their own fault for finding out.
Perhaps I should stay quiet until I can be confident that all those I know are up-to-date with the latest goings on, but what if all my other friends have started the conversation? The only way to get around this is vaguebooking and not giving away specific details.
Actually there is one solution, everyone should be on Google+ where I can add you to circles and prevent you from seeing any posts I don’t want you to see, but nobody seems to be there so it’s your own fault.
For other spoilers, if the surprise is over a year old so surely the embargo on plot details is over. You cannot claim the right of ignorance forever, and there has to be a time limit to which you can morally claim to not be spoilt. Would anyone today not talk about the endings to The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects or what happens to Bambi’s mother?
Talking about Game of Thrones with newcomers is difficult because I know what is going to happen. How much can I, or should I, tell them when they ask. Do I know the current fates of Tyrion, Robb and Joff? Of course I do, and have done for a while so technically I could tell them because that information has been in the public domain for a while.
So to take your mind off it…he’s dead, he’s him, she dies.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “1984.”
You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.