Those dirty, rotten spoilers

Take a minute here and imagine the following situation: It’s the morning after your favorite show aired on TV, but you were busy and weren’t able to watch. You DVR’ed the show, and you plan on sitting down to watch it the next night.

But before you’re able to do that, you get on Facebook and see that someone posted the big plot twist of the night – a character was killed off at the end of the episode. Now you know what happens. Just like that.

When it comes to television, is there anything worse than having someone ruin your favorite show for you by spoiling important details?

In my opinion, definitely not. Think about all those moments of TV – or movies too, for that matter – when you’ve been made to yell out loud in shock, or to say, “What just happened!” to the person sitting next to you. Those moments are what make TV worth watching, and for example, knowing what happens during the season finale of Breaking Bad’s fourth season (the only episode I can remember that caused me to audibly yell at the TV not once, but twice) would make the episode far, far, far less enjoyable.

I posted recently about a new “watch when we want to watch” mentality of TV, represented by the new “House of Cards” program on Netflix. With this concept, when we’re watching a show on our own time – whether on Hulu, or something we Tivo’ed or DVR’ed, or on Netflix – and not on the night when it originally airs, I think we become more susceptible to having something spoiled for us.

Because let’s be honest. When something big happens on your favorite show, you want to start discussing it with your friends. But whereas in the past these discussions would happen solely around “water coolers,” now they’re happening on social media, when people Tweet or Facebook their opinions on the latest developments.

And sure, it’s possible to do this online without giving away what exactly happened. But it’s a delicate dance, and it’s likely that even the smallest detail could give something away to someone who wasn’t able to watch the episode.

And in that case, when that spoiler happens, whose fault is it? Is it the responsibility of the person tweeting and Facebooking to avoid the major details, or is it on the person who isn’t watching to avoid being around possible spoilers in the first place? That is, should people – like me – who didn’t watch a specific show – let’s say Downton Abbey’s season finale a few weeks ago – stay off of social media altogether for a few days because of the fact that there are going to be spoilers out there? Or should we not even get to that point?

As someone who’s had shows spoiled for me in the past – let’s say Downton Abbey’s season finale a few weeks ago – I believe that this doesn’t have to happen. There’s no reason why you need to go to Twitter immediately after watching a show and say, for all the world (or your followers) to see, “OMG VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER! I’m so shocked by these unexpected developments!” Rather, save those thoughts until you get to work or school the next day. They’re called “water cooler” moments for a reason – gather with your friends and co-workers and discuss it in person. Don’t ruin it for everybody else, even if that’s not your intention.

Agree? Disagree?

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