In an age where content is practically shoved down our throats all in the guise of a free flow of information (or well, page views), it has become increasingly hard to navigate the social media plane filled rotten with landmines of TV and film spoilers. Consider this equal parts spoiler etiquette guide and a map on how to avoid it altogether, as well as a wedge to save friendships in the process. Believe us, it has happened.
Spoiler alert: Friendships have been through the wringer in the advent of wanting to talk about that WTF moment at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Meanwhile, tensions have been known to arise from relationships (whether it be romantic, platonic or heck, just hanging out) because someone “accidentally” slipped out a major detail from a show that the other hasn’t seen yet. More than once, we have seen people physically block out conversations with their hands or their anti-social headphones because they haven’t had the time to sit down and watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Or in my case, MasterChef Australia. Okay, fine. RuPaul’s Drag Race, too.
In extreme cases, some have gone to the lengths of muting the all-knowing blabbermouth on Facebook over too much vital information shared about Star Wars The Last Jedi. Or far worse, ended a friendship altogether. It sounds a little too much, but entertainment and information are all too important currencies that dominate our culture today. Top that with the need to share every little bit of our lives, thoughts and opinions to just about any breathing soul, then it results itself in a situation that has become testy to say the least.
People who consciously play dumb and posts spoilers are what we in the modern world like to call bottom of the barrel scraping scumbags who have nothing better to do than to take away the joy of enjoying the show or film with complete resignation to the unraveling narrative. This has not only prompted people to take to the aforementioned measures, but even movie outlets and even Deadpool himself has stepped in to make sure that every living and breathing film fan can enjoy what they worked hard on at a very tight-lipped rate.
It boils to simple humanity: Don’t be a jerk. You wouldn’t want to (spoiler alert) fade away in the hands of Thanos or have your sister (sorry, silence) demanded by Wade Wilson, would you? No, really. Stop being a jerk. It doesn’t make you look cool nor does it make you look attractive. So, quit it.
Now, while my social media timeline is not rid of spoiler-hungry fiends, I do pride myself in taking extra precaution when I have yet to find time for Deadpool 2 or a stream for The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t available yet. Here, we are extending a map of sorts to guide you to avoid clumsily falling trap to a spoiler or two. It doesn’t take much. What it does require though, is a lot of patience.
1. Prioritize The Good Stuff
There is just way too much TV and movies to pore through at a given time. While some of you can juggle your given, rent- and Netflix subscription-paying responsibilities on one hand and an episode of Game of Thrones on the other, then good for you. (I personally leave the audio of a show on the background while I go through my daily deliverables and then get back to it at the end of the day for the full experience. That way, I’m at least updated.) However, some can’t multi-task expertly. So, make a list of shows that you absolutely cannot miss for the world. And then space that out within your day or evenly throughout the week.
2. Steer Clear Of Social Media
Or at least warn your immediate physical circle that you haven’t seen the latest eye-opening The Good Place. I hate to break it to you, but there will be grade-A douchebags who will post their thoughts sans an appropriate spoiler alert. So, give it at least a few hours for the dust to settle. For binge shows (i.e. Orange Is The New Black and Transparent), you should wait about 10 days before engaging in a full on, no-holds-barred discourse online. If you can, Twitter is best avoided because that is all about the here and the now. That isn’t safe for your spoiler-free souls or your rising anxiety over what happens next on Riverdale.
Also, it is important to note that despite wanting to be in the know, it is imperative to realize that you cannot be part of every debriefing discussion post-show. Again, choose your battles wisely.
3. Don’t Be Too Sensitive
As a proud, generally spoiler-free person, this one is a bit hard to swallow. Personally, I subscribe to the concept of it shouldn’t be discussed until I’ve seen it, or that people on the giving end should be more mindful of what they spill. While that is still the gospel truth, it doesn’t hold true for reality television, history-anchored shows or dishing out the premise as opposed to a spoiler. You cannot expect the world to stop and shut up just because you haven’t seen something yet. That is also robbing them of their fun on the flip side. Needless to say, don’t have to be a whiny jerk about it, too.
However, this doesn’t give anyone the liberty to discuss things at length just because it was in the book. Sure, the whole film versus book discussion is a whole other thing to go over, but that’s why it’s called an adaptation. I learned this the hard and uncomfortable way when watching Ready Player One right after reading the book. No two pieces of literature are ever created alike, much like our DNA is different from our closest living relative. Look it up, it’s science.
4. Shut Your Pie-Hole, Buddy
Okay, so you’ve finally managed to watch Avengers: Infinity Wars and you are now free to start discussing with friends who quite frankly aren’t over the whole thing. Don’t take this as an opportunity to start yapping away within earshot, because most likely, someone still hasn’t seen it. Much like you have weeks earlier. Talking in hushed voices or retreating to the watering hole will be your safest option to go at it with the post-mortem, because remember, no one likes a blundering know-it-all.
If all else fails, go ahead and ask if everyone has seen or if you are free to talk about it. Who knows, at this point, maybe no one really cares anymore.
5. Run, Don’t Walk To The Cinema (Or Your Scheduled Streams)
Spoilers are a very big deal, especially when it comes to multi-million and billion dollar franchises that have done everything from physically silencing their stars (Hello, Tom Holland) to giving out fake scripts (Hello, Tom Holland) just to keep the entire film’s premise sacred for the audience. It is also a modern day debacle of epic proportions that have caused uproars when key plot points have been posted on Twitter. We are looking at you, AMC.
This also leaves you with as much responsibility, too. Schedule your shows appropriately and book that ticket to the cinema as soon as you can. Much will be left to chance, but at least you’ve done your part. You can deal with the rest of the collateral damage later. It blows when you’re the only one left out of rambunctious conversations or you have to purposefully detach from social media. Do what you can before it is too late. And we mean, either it gets pulled out of the movie houses or the final dagger through the heart, a cancellation. (Sorry, Rise.)
Meanwhile, let’s keep the internet tension free, shall we. At least on the harmless TV and film entertainment side. It is a big space for everyone to enjoy. But in the end, exercise a whole lot of decency and courtesy for the next viewer. The whole world will be a much better, less muted place if we all learn how to play fair and nice, right?