A Plea To All You Spoilery Bastards Out There In Spoilerland
Sunday night rolls around.
Walking Dead night. So too with Homeland.
I don’t watch the show as it airs; we’ve got a toddler who’s just gone to sleep and it doesn’t seem productive to crank up a show where there’s a lot of undead moans, human screams, and gun-bangs. I tend to watch it a day or three later while on the elliptical. (Maybe that’s my own version of Zombies, Run!)
Thing is, if I get on social media at 9pm — Facebook, Twitter, Circlehole, Sharespace, Lovebooster, or some other social media site I’m just making up — I have to duck because of a small but vocal contingent who feel like tweeting the show. Meaning, spoiling the show. Not merely talking about it or talking around it, but actively like, OH MY GOD, CARL JUST SHOT AND KILLED THE GOVERNOR WITH A HARPOON GUN or THE ZOMBIES ARE REALLY MOON VAMPIRES HOLY SHIT.
(Curiously, I don’t see anyone spoiling Homeland. Hm. That either means: fewer people watching that show or fewer TV geek-types watching and broadcasting their experience. Great show, by the way. Do not miss. The terrorists are really all moon vampires, by the way.)
Ahem. Anyway. This potential spoiler-fest goes on for a couple hours as folks catch up with the show. Hell, the last time the show had some major deaths, it went on all week. Facebook memes kept popping up: big visual punches to the face that my eyeballs simply could not avoid.
I said something about this on Twitter this past Sunday night and I got a lot of folks agreeing, but I also got some folks who were, well, let’s just go with “irritated” that I would dare to suggest that social media was all for me and not for them. One gentleman (after calling me an “asshole”) asserted that I sure seemed to care an awful lot about a TV show and weren’t there more important things to be worried about?
Well, duh. Somewhere out there is That One Thing that is The Worst And Most Important Thing To Be Worried About. I don’t know what it is but I assume it involves an alien invasion where we all get cancer from their unforgiving Martian lasers. Outside of that pinnacle of horror, everything is relative. Hangnails to TV spoilers to broken toes to heart attacks to a bevy of cancers to — well, on and on, until you get to the alien cancer invasion thing. Point is, this asshole (me) wants to make a point about TV shows and spoilers.
You can use Twitter however you want. That’s not for me to say, nor to stop you.
My point was merely, if I catch you doing it, I’ll probably unfollow you. (And, if you call me an asshole, it’s a good bet I’m going to block your ass so I don’t have to hear you jabbering at me anymore.)
Here’s why I’d first politely ask that you consider holding your tongue in terms of spoiling… well, anything within reason (and a reasonable amount of time, as set by John Q. Scalzi, Esquire): because it suggests that you’re the most important person on social media. I get it. You want to talk about what you just saw. But we all want lots of things. I want a pony. I want to punch people sometimes. I want to eat a gallon of ice cream and guzzle liquor every night. But I don’t. I don’t do a lot of things because it’d either be bad for me or bad for someone else. We don’t just follow our every id-driven impulse because: uhh, hello, selfish.
I’m just asking that you cool it on the spoilers.
I suspect that you’d probably not like it if, an hour before the show aired, I called you up and spoiled the shit out of the show for you. Would that be a thing you’d like? *ring ring* “HELLO I AM FROM THE FUTURE MICHONNE IS ACTUALLY A NINJA ROBOT AND ALL THE SHOW IS A DELUSION OF HER DAMAGED PROGRAMMING HA HA HA HA IT’S A REALLY COOL REVEAL TOO.”
See? Not awesome.
Do spoilers actually ruin the show? No. Of course not. A show is the sum of many moments big and small, subtle and overt — but while spoilers do not ruin the show they do ruin certain big moments. Because a spoiler is just a data point. It reveals narrative information without any narrative aplomb: meaning, it exists outside the mode of the storyteller telling that story. It’s just some info-puke that bypasses all the tension and plot and character building up to that moment. A storyteller crafts big moments — spoilworthy moments — in a way to maximize impact. They are the narrative equivalent of a bomb being dropped; the entire episode has often been designed to lead to and showcase that holy shitfuck event.
But then along comes Yelly McSpoilerface who cares nothing for the storyteller intent nor for the rest of the audience watching it.
It’s the TV equivalent of trolling.
You want to talk about the show, I get it.
And it was pointed out on Facebook that television has become strongly focused on the “second screen experience,” meaning, while the show is on, an invested and active audience talks about it. But there exist ways to do that without pissing on those really cool moments. While the “second screen experience” is a thing, so too is the fact that a lot of folks watch the television show at their convenience (DVR, iTunes, etc) and not at the appointed 9PM hour (and don’t forget: other time zones).
You want to talk about it? Find a forum online. Something that’s not the equivalent of “The entire public breadth of the Internet.” Or, if you must be on Twitter or Facebook, talk about things in a way that doesn’t actually specify what happened — I mean, if you’re trying to talk to people who are watching the show at the same time, one assumes they’ll understand when you say, “HOLY TURDBALLS I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY JUST DID THAT.” Right? You have ways of being considerate to others, and that’s what this is about.
Be considerate to other fans. And to a larger, more abstract degree, to the storytellers, too.
Again, you don’t have to do this. You can tell me to go chug a bucket of monkey jizz (SPOILER WARNING: ew). That’s fine. Like I told folks Sunday night, you can use social media however the fuck you want. You can spoil stories. You can be a human spam-bot. You can use it as a platform for your ugliest prejudicial epithets. But it doesn’t mean I have to keep following you if you do choose to use it that way.