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.

22 comments

  • We’re in Australia, so we (ahem) get The Walking Dead a little while after the US. Sometimes it’s a few hours, sometimes a few days, depending on how much I’m bugging my husband about it. The other day though, I purposely clicked away from twitter because I could see that other people were watching and tweeting and it was pissing me off. I’m with you, not wanting to see the spoilers. Hell, I shout at people for telling me “there’s a huge plot twist at the end of this book/movie/porn scene” because I just do not want to know. What is the point of a twist if you’re waiting for it?

    Ugh. Apparently you’ve just hit on one of my issues. I’m going to go outside now, where there are no spoilers, except shouty children spoiling the silence.

  • We need to invent a social media site that is just for this exact thing, because while I agree that tweeting spoilers is incredibly inconsiderate, I will also say that some of the most fun I’ve had watching TV during the past year has involved going on to Twitter at the same time and seeing all the live tweets. This goes for not just scripted television (which I don’t see much of), but also for events like, say, the Presidential debates.

    Most of the people I follow are considerate enough to talk AROUND the show, as you said – making a joke about what’s going on, which doesn’t make sense without the additional context and isn’t too spoiler-y, but some people do have bad judgment as to what does and does not qualify as a “spoiler.”

    My personal rule is, if you can’t tell whether it’s a spoiler or not, DO NOT HIT SEND.

  • I just went and read all the comments on that statute of limitations thing. Interesting.

    I never understood the “Crying Game” hype. It had been “spoiled” before I saw it, but I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t totally obvious anyway. I mean, did anybody really not know as soon as they saw the person? Where are your eyes, people? But as I said, I already knew the twist (from the Simpsons) so it’s hard to be sure what my genuine response would have been.

  • People who have the burning urge to just TWEET WHAT THEY SEE really torment my brain. Thankfully I don’t seem to follow many of them any more.

    I do understand that most of such behaviour is down to exuberance and excitement, but there’s really no need for it. It’s thoughtless, inconsiderate and, perhaps most damning of all, pointless.

    If I’ve already seen the show, I already know that the zombies are moon-vampires.

    If I haven’t already seen the show then, clearly, I don’t want to fucking know.

    I salute those who are able to tweet obliquely about stuff. Those people are the chosen ones and the goddess Eris will look kindly upon them come Chaos Day.

    • “If I’ve already seen the show, I already know that the zombies are moon-vampires.

      If I haven’t already seen the show then, clearly, I don’t want to fucking know.”

      Exactly that.

      – c.

  • So with you on this. I don’t go on Twitter on Sunday nights for this very reason, but the worst is Facebook, because my friends always post about Walking Dead the next morning. I’ve blocked from my feed the people who do this. When my hubs is OOT sometimes I don’t see the show for weeks (we watch together) and this gives ample time for spoilery. I don’t care if you tweet something random. I, myself, like to tweet, “DEXTER! WHERE’S YOUR BABY?” because that can apply to any Dexter episode since Season 4. But Walking Dead seems to have the worst group of blurt-outs.

  • THANK YOU for this post!

    Point of interest: nearly every person I’ve had to unfollow because they do shit like post movie spoilers FROM THE DAMN THEATER IN THE MIDDLE OF A MOVIE has been a very famous person indeed.

    Make of that what you will. Maybe there’s a ratio between a person’s fame and how likely they are to post a spoiler. Or rather, they think you should tolerate their spoilery nature in exchange for the honor of watching their brain matter spit-up every 30 minutes. Maybe I just suck at picking celebrities to follow. I don’t know. I’ve just noticed that in my experience, famous= more likely to be a spoilery bastard.

  • Yeah, this is a problem for me as well. When I was a kid, Mom set a house rule that if anyone spoiled a movie or show (well, she said “told anyone else what happened without being expressly asked to do so by everyone present”–don’t'cha love kids?) then anyone who didn’t want to know got to feed the person doing the spoiling anything FDA certified edible we could find, one item per spoiler. I don’t even know how many atomic fireballs I made my little brother eat. Mom’s weapon of choice was boiled spinach with vinegar on it.

  • I thought I heard

    I have a spoilierspoiler in my feed too and she drives me crazy. And everyone posts on her wall “STOP SPOILING”. I think she gets drunk and does it. Sigh. I’ve known most of the stuff that happens before it does too. Fortunately for me, I’m tiring of the show.

  • I thought I heard Homeland was being cancelled.

    I have a spoilierspoiler in my feed too and she drives me crazy. And everyone posts on her wall “STOP SPOILING”. I think she gets drunk and does it. Sigh. I’ve known most of the stuff that happens before it does too. Fortunately for me, I’m tiring of the show.

  • I’ve been curious if you watch The Walking Dead. I once tweeted a spoiler, without thinking, in regards to The Waking Dead, and since then I have learned my lesson. However, I actually got the name wrong of the person I mentioned being killed, so it was it’s own twist.

    I am also a DVR dude and netflix streaming. I have watched the first two episodes of Homeland, and I am on season 4 of Breaking Bad.

  • I’m so used to spoilers – being the Tumblr addict that I am and that I learned the plotline to pretty much the entirety of Supernatural just from gifsets before I started watching it – that I don’t even bat an eye at them anymore. I do like to liveblog my TV experience, the interaction with other fans is fun, however I don’t dictate what’s happening in the show, that seems pointless and mean-spirited to those who don’t get to watch at the same time, like yourself. I keep to vague-sounding reactions. My personal pride and joy from Sunday night was “GEE BRODY THAT’S NOT SHADY AT ALL.” Which honestly, could apply to any episode of Homeland.

  • All I ask of my Timeline is that they tag their TV/movie tweets: #TWD, #HoneyBooBoo, #WhatTheFuckEver.

    And then I mute that shit. I mute it hard. Filters are your friends, guys. I don’t care if you’re a “power user” or not, TweetDeck (or another Twitter client) is worth it just for that feature alone.

    Of course, I do the same in return. Of course no one wants to know if the Iron Chef did indeed manage to reign supreme this week without having seen the Challenger’s dishes. So I tag my tweets. I’m not an asshole.

    Largely, it’s a successful strategy.

  • I hate spoilers. I hate it with a white fiery passion of wherever white fiery passions come from.

    The problem is, that Spoilers are highly subjective. What spoils something for one person, doesn’t for another. I think people need to do what there are totally programmed to do, put themselves in other people’s shoes for a moment, and think how their FB post or Tweet will affect other people before posting.

    I work the second shift, so, I tend not to watch shows until about 2AM. Last night, a friend posted what seems to be an simple statement about the Finale of Sons of Anarchy, “I really thought Jax was going to do [something Jax didn't do.]” Part of me wanted to explain, that this was a spoiler. That now I know that Jax didn’t do this thing, but I decided to go passive aggressive and just post something about how I am plotting revenge on people who spoil shows. The thing is, I don’t think this person would think consider what he posted a spoiler. He probably would thing, “Well, I didn’t post what Jax did, but what he didn’t do.”

    My definition of Spoiler is very strict. I don’t even like to be told a book, movie or episode has a surprise ending. But I know my definition isn’t the same, so I have to be very careful when reading reviews.

    Some Spoilers are quite clever. I am a fan of the show Survivor, and there is a huge group of people who simply loves finding out spoilers. I had to stop posting on forums, because certain people would brag about how they read all the spoilers, then the episode comes, and people would make there predictions on who was voted off, and annoying “I read all the spoilers” would come and say, “I think that Larry Underpants is getting voted off today.” Of course, he was always right. Bastard.

  • I’ve never heard of either of these shows. I actually don’t watch TV very often and if I do it is the History Channel, Discovery, or the like. So, my first reaction to this was, “Who tweets about TV?” Like, seriously, how boring does your life have to be that when you feel like sharing something it came from TV?

    Plus, I’m with you on the ‘if I care, I’d be watching it.’ So either way, stupid things to tweet about.

    But, I guess this is the same as tweeting about books, which I do all the time, so I guess that’s a bit hypocritical of me.

  • You get to see/read/hear a story for the first time only once. You should experience it the way the storyteller intended you to experience it, with all the reveals building up on top of each other they way they were designed.

    Don’t cheat yourself.

    And don’t cheat others.

  • Omfg… someone who people ACTUALLY LISTEN TO said the same thing I’ve been saying for two years now ( I was likewise called an asshole. No monkey jizz, you must be special).
    As part of my “day job” I’ve been tasked with reviewing The Walking Dead. I must form my own, unbiased opinion on the show and vomit up enough coherent babbling to please the masses. It is impossible to do said task with spoiler-happy people posting all over Twitter, Facebook…whatever. And since I live is sunny (currently drowning) California, the fun and games start three hours ahead of time.
    From 6 PM until 10 PM I cannot go onto the public timeline of any social media website. Spoilerholics are rampant, more so because of my day job–all of the wanna-be zombie slayers flocked my way. They live-tweet EVERYTHING. “Omg, did you see the way Daryl’s ass looks in his jeans?” Okay, not a spoiler on that one, but the fangirls are likewise annoying.
    The last time I publicly asked people to cut down on the spoilers, I was berated, insulted, had my social media sack lunch stolen and stepped on. The best part? The worst offender (a chick who thinks Twitter revolves around her) wasn’t even a fan of the show I asked people to chill out about. She just thought, “Hey, R.C. is being a bully.” and off she went.
    It is not cyber bullying to ask that people don’t tell me what happens on a show. It has become a detriment to my enjoyment of many websites. All because I want to deliver the best possible review to the very folks flinging spoilers like excited feces-coated monkeys. I’ve worked with actors from the show and any time they want to say something about it, I ask them not to until I walk away. They Understand. Spoiler-types seem to think the more they talk about it, the more the producers/actors/Joe Blow PA, will love them and Talk To Them(insert “finding Holy Grail” music here). It is about getting attention, not showing how much one enjoys a show.
    Can you tell I’m frustrated? All I can say is thank the gods there is a break…before I forget how to use Twitter.

  • I often don’t even want to know that a surprise ending exists in a work, because my mind will be churning to figure it out during the show/movie/book. I usually end up spoiling it for myself. I go so far as to ask people not to tell me what a book is *about*. If someone I trust is recommending it, that’s generally enough for me. As several people said earlier: I like to experience the work as the creator intended.

  • That is totally like when I was watching the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics, and someone a time zone ahead of me was all like, WTF there are no penguins of giraffes here for Team Madagascar! I saw that on Twitter and I was like, well there’s no point in watching any more of THIS. And I ditched the whole Olympics.

  • My husband started watching the Walking dead on Netflix a few weeks ago until there were three episodes left, then he stopped watching it. He refuses to watch those episodes PLUS any time he is channel surfing he will close his eyes when he knows he’s about to click on the channel the newest episode is going to be on and clicks past it reeeal quick, so he doesn’t ruin anything he has experienced up to the last three he refuses to watch until they post the newest season on netflix. Why does he do this? So he can become in-tuned to the show again and watch it back to back until he is fully caught up then he can watch the new season on tv. He’s like this with a lot of shows. He never thought he would be so into this one tho and now he is waiting patiently until the season is over. He doesn’t tweet, facebook, blog, surf the web (unless its for research) etc. because he can’t stand social media.

    With all that said, I have a question along the same lines but not about t.v shows. Lately I’ve come across blogs, websites, magazine articles (writers digest even) that its a good idea to blog your book before you even have it published (self or traditional). I don’t really get the concept of putting a novel out into the world on a blog before it’s even finished so one can build a “platform”. Isn’t that spoiling the story?
    Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of becoming cave dwellers, inhaling caffeine in mass amounts for some type of stimuli to keep the brain going, sending short but sweet pm’s to family to let them know that you are still alive but verrrry busy, love you will call soon……….all in the name of keeping our stories to ourselves until that fateful day when we must let it out into the world? (There’s more but I just realized this is a tad long so I’ll leave it as is and maybe someone has some input about it….?) Thanks

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