Once upon a time one’s favourite television programmes came on at regularly scheduled times. Flash forward to internet watching, DVD recordings and all-in-one box sets, which spawned a new taboo among friends—giving up too much info, aka the spoiler. Unlike the old days when everyone was on the same schedule, episodic watching patterns have changed drastically. For some, entertainment consumption could be like slowly savoring fine chocolates, whilst others might prefer binge watching. So how to watch a programme with genuine anticipation when it’s new to you but no one else, or you’re slightly behind the watching curve? Plan an anti-spoiler initiative.
There’s no reason to get nasty about it but do tell friends not to give anything away. Note that this does not mean that “friends” won’t spoil key show elements just to drive you insane. Or worse, give false plot lines you keep waiting for that never come, try to force-feed you clips on a mobile, etc. If those are the kind of friends you have, you might want to look at that. And if they just can’t keep their mouth shut but you want to keep them as friends then just limit interaction with them until you’re all up to speed. However, you have a responsibility, too—don’t try to start a discussion about a show that was hot last year (that you’re just getting to) and expect friends to know how to filter appropriately. If you go there, there’s a good chance friends will accidentally reveal key plot lines just because it’s difficult to remember what happened, and when
Limit Social Media
It’s not just friends worth worrying about. Thanks to the advancement of technology on smartphones, social media “friends” also means friends of friends, fan pages, ads and photo memes. Filter out any people and pages that could give anything away and also ask to not be copied in on any potential messaging or texting groups talking about the show. Remember to apply filters to mobile messaging as well—and if signed up to follow any shows on Twitter and the like, consider unfollowing until you’ve caught up with everyone else.
Traditional Web and print media has gotten pretty good about warning readers of spoilers but it’s still quite easy to learn more than you’d like, no matter what the good intentions. The best pop culture is exactly that, popular, and it’s incredibly common now for contemporary references to spill over into other shows. Granted you can’t totally live in a vacuum but it will be challenging to limit all the places spoilers can occur. Example: Try to avoid television ads in general because they often share too much, particularly shows that are made specifically to discuss the original show you’ve yet to watch!
Beware of “Hidden” Spoilers
Okay so friends are warned, Facebook‘s locked up—no problem, right? Actually it’s the subtle spoiler alerts that will most likely zing you. Depending on how surprised you’d like to be, it might be wise to avoid looking at the following whilst catching up on your favourite show:
- Photo captions in magazines offering too many details
- Reviews, online and in print
- Episode descriptions on DVD or with recording system
- Satirical shows that may riff on the show you’re watching
- Forums, no matter how far removed from the subject they may seem
For anyone of an age, this is most likely a surreal topic of discussion, but times have most sincerely changed. The ability to see just about anything desired whenever one would like? That’s heady stuff to anyone who grew up before the various video recording devices that changed everything. What hasn’t kept up with the fast-paced boom of technology is peoples’ ability to handle such new situations with poise and grace. It’s rarely intentional when a happy fan blurts out a storyline, so take a little pity on them. Because you, too, could some day spoil a show or film without meaning to.