Spoilers and CONDESCENSION:
The Ugly Side of Social Media
– Chris O’Mealy 5/25/17 – 9:17Pm
Sunday night, season seven of Game of Thrones premiered on HBO. It was a great episode that did exactly what I was hoping it would do: advance the major storylines of the show and take big steps forward with the characters involved. Since I wanted to watch undisturbed, and since my only way to watch is my father’s HBO Go account (thanks Dad!) I made sure our Wi-Fi was freed up along with my undivided attention. From 9 PM until I finished watch the special look inside the episode that airs after the credits, I had tunnel vision for Game of Thrones. Once it was all said and done, I picked up my phone and logged onto Facebook to see the excitement from all of my fellow fans about the premiere. Within seconds, I was thankful I had the evening off work and could watch the show as it was airing. My newsfeed was crammed with spoilers of the show that had just aired, and according to some of the timestamps, had been posted immediately after the specific event took place on the show. I immediately got annoyed. If I hadn’t been able to watch, I would’ve seen some massive spoilers that would’ve ruined the entire experience for me. Sure enough, among the spoilers, were people who – like me – have jobs that may require them to work on a Sunday evening and were begging people not to post spoilers and to be courteous. But, on social media, people pretty much can post and say and do whatever they want.
So this begs an all important question. When is it okay to post a spoiler of a TV show or live event on social media? Is it okay at all? Should the people who can’t watch be making an effort to avoid social media at all if they want to avoid spoilers? And why do so many people have to be condescending about other people’s excitement for a TV show that literally doesn’t affect their lives? Alright, alright, that was more than one question, but they all need to be answered.
Let’s start with the spoiler alert argument. People generally fall onto one side of the argument only. Some people say that posting a spoiler of something they haven’t seen yet is rude, as it ruins the experience for those who haven’t had a chance to watch, who were likely unable to for any reason. The other side states that if people want to avoid spoilers, they should avoid forums where the spoilers can be posted. Both sides of the argument make valid points, and to some extent, both are actually correct in their own ways. The argument isn’t purely black and white as a lot of people seem to think it is. Unfortunately, this makes the argument even more difficult to logically pick a side.
My stance is simple: I don’t post spoilers out of respect, because that’s how I view the situation. Instead, I inform people I have seen the thing, and invite them to discuss it with me privately. I did this with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Immediately after I got home from the movie, I informed my friends on Facebook that I wanted to discuss the movie with them, but only in a private chat, to avoid spoilers to those who hadn’t seen it yet. And being that I saw it opening night in one of the first screenings, it wasn’t difficult to find people who had yet to see it.
I felt that was the correct way to do it. After all, when it comes to movies, people simply can’t go watch them immediately after they’re released. Jobs, families, and tons of other commitments can mean that you don’t get out to the theater to see the film until days after its release. Sometimes, those days become weeks, and even months. One of my close friends only now just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which came out at the beginning of May, and I’m writing this on July 17. That’s just how our lives, and sometimes our wallets, dictate our entertainment to us.
Posting a cinema spoiler is a dick thing to do, end of story. Many folks feel that even a hint of a plot point shouldn’t be allowed until at least one week after the movie’s release date. Some will even argue that up to ten or even thirty days. We simply don’t have the options, or even the requirement, to go see the movie when it first comes out, so we have every right to feel angry if someone reveals a film’s big plot twist in a Facebook comment or a tweet.
With television shows, the lines get a tad more blurred. A lot of people feel that since the show airs at a certain time on a certain channel, everyone who is a fan will have watched, so the discussions can begin right away. But again, as previously stated, even the biggest fan of a show like Game of Thrones may have something preventing them from watching exactly at 9 PM on Sunday. If someone is working, they have to wait until they come home. By then, the show’s entire outline will be on the internet for the world to read. You basically have to shut down all of social media until you’ve viewed the episode in its entirety before you can safely scroll without fear of a spoiler.
Now, I do agree that if you want to avoid spoilers, you should make a conscious effort to avoid them. If you simply don’t have the willpower to avoid a website like Facebook for a few hours because it’s that important to you, some of the blame lies on you. Everyone knows what a huge WWE fan I am, and I often work Sunday evenings when a PPV is going on. I will shut off Facebook to avoid the results of the big matches I want to watch, until I have the chance to watch them. Sporting events, and yes WWE counts there, will update you as they go. Baseball and football scores of your favorite teams will be posted as they’re happening, which is common with sports. WWE is no different. So if I don’t want to learn that Shinsuke Nakamura is the new champion until I have a chance to witness it myself, it’s on me to turn off Facebook until I can sit down and watch the King of Strong Style become top of the cards. (This hasn’t happened yet, but it needs to!)
Still, people shouldn’t be revealing the major plot points of a TV show in real time. Or right after. 24 hours later, I might side with someone posting a conversation about a plot point, because that’s a pretty fair amount of time to view something. Even if I worked an evening shift and had to turn around for a morning shift right away, I can still view the new episode the following afternoon, well within that 24 hour window. I don’t think that’s a big problem for a lot of people. I’m still against the plot points being discussed publicly at all, but much less than I was 24 minutes after the show’s airing.
If you’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones, but wish to avoid spoilers if you’re starting late like I did, all you have to do is ignore everyone’s conversations about the show, and avoid any websites that post memes. I was able to do that for years after the show started when I finally got access to HBO, and while I knew one or two things that would happen, but the majority of the show was still new to me. It isn’t that hard to do.
Unfortunately, your newsfeed can be bogged down right after a show airs with the events of the episode, and there’s little you can do if you’re on Facebook at that time. Why should you avoid your own Facebook page just because some people can’t keep their mouths shut? It can definitely seem unfair. Surround yourselves with people who won’t ruin things for you (or worse, take joy in ruining things for you) and you’ll be okay!
Another big thing I saw after the premiere was the amount of people coming out of the woodwork to reveal to the world that they either don’t watch or like Game of Thrones, or putting down those who do for reasons they’d have to explain to you. This time, the argument is actually pretty straightforward: shut up and let people enjoy things.
One friend posted how she’s constantly force-fed “watch Game of Thrones” by her friends, despite the fact that she’s given the show a chance and didn’t like it. That’s wrong. If someone has tried something and didn’t like it, then you need to back off. Unless she was countering with condescending memes mocking those who like the show, then she deserves to have her opinion in peace. Of course, I saw another friend post no less than five memes all stating how they’ve never seen an episode and don’t care about it (the classic smiley face dude with the words “here’s me, not giving a **** about Game of Thrones” was featured). People don’t like it when other people tend to force the things they like on people, but have no problem forcing their dislike on others. In that case, I think the meme-sharer was wrong. This happens with any major TV show someone doesn’t like, and especially when a season of sports rolls around. I can’t tell you how many times I have to sit through yet another “I hate football” post just because people got excited for football season. We get it, you don’t watch football, so why don’t you tell us what you DO like instead of trying to be a jerk to those who are happy and excited?
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. I don’t watch a very popular TV show called The Walking Dead, even though a good number of my friends love it. I gave the show a chance, twice, and didn’t care for it, so I didn’t watch. Yet when the point comes up, people seem to get offended by this. Does it matter? Do I not liking a show you like affect your life at all? I’m not bringing it up every Sunday when it’s airing, nor am I even sharing memes about it, so why do you feel the need to be like this? Also, speaking of the Walking Dead, despite not watching it, I can tell you an awful lot about it, because spoilers from the show get posted like mad after an episode airing. I don’t even watch the show and that annoys the hell out of me!
The thing with spoilers is that there are tons of groups on Facebook where people can go and discuss things as they’re happening, which exist specifically to avoid public newsfeeds. So why can’t people just keep their comments in there? I can understand being excited and needing to begin a discussion about the great thing you just saw, but really, keep it private until a fair amount of time has passed so that you aren’t ruining it for everyone else.
Put it this way, if you were the one who wanted to avoid the spoilers, wouldn’t you be mad if someone ruined it for you?
A conscious effort to avoid social media during an event is something people should be doing, but to those who can’t – like me, who uses social media as part of his job – we’d like to not have everything spoiled for us, thank you.
No matter which side of the argument you fall on, you can’t deny that spoilers are an annoying thing. If you’re against them, no further argument is needed, but if you’re for them, then in some aspect, you probably don’t care if you’re ruining the experience for someone else, and that makes you kind of a dick.
I shouldn’t have to mute words on Twitter because someone can’t keep their mouth shut!
And please, stop getting aggressive towards people who don’t like the same things you like. I’ve adopted a personal rule called the Star Wars Rule in my life. Star Wars is one of my favorite franchises of all time, but I still know many people who’ve never seen the films or don’t like them. Rather than be a jerk, I always recommend the movies without pressure, or simply inquire why one doesn’t like the movies. Almost any answer you give me is acceptable, because I bet I don’t like tons of things you do. But also, I know someone who hates Star Wars and never even attempted to give the movies a chance. You can’t hate something you’ve never tried. Tell me you have no interest in it, but don’t tell me you hate it when you’ve never seen it, because I’ll get aggressive back to you.
Seriously, the black and white answers don’t exist here!
I’ll end this with a quote from Raw announcer Corey Graves. “I just want to say, if you’re the kind of person who would put spoilers in public for anything, whether it be WWE or the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, you suck as a human being. Like, what a terrible thing to do.” I can’t say I disagree.
Which side do you fall on? Sound off in the comments! Tell us if you agree that job schedules or app issues (HBO viewers had reported several app crashes during the show) justify an argument against spoilers, or if you feel that someone who can’t put their phone down for an hour or two deserves it. I want to hear what you think.
By the way, it’s 2017. If you still think a meme about game requests will prevent them from happening on Facebook, because you’re too lazy or stupid or configure your profile settings to block them, then I will personally send you one hundred Candy Crush requests.
Chris O’Mealy is a former indy wrestling promoter, ring announcer, manager and referee. Clearly, he is a big pro wrestling fan. He is the founder and moderator of the Club Kayfabe Creative Community, which you can like on Facebook and follow on Twitter. He hosts three podcasts (Club Kayfabe WrestleTalk, Talkin’ Talkies, and The Jersey Rain Hour) which can all be found on Facebook and Podomatic. He also writes for his own blog which you can read at http://comealy17.wordpress.com. He can be reached on Twitter @chrisomealy or emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact him on Facebook (facebook.com/chrisomealy), but he will only accept a friend request if you introduce yourself to him first.