Spoiler Alert! Are Spoilers Rude?

The ultimate spoiler. [Via xkcd.com]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

What is the etiquette on posting TV spoilers on social media? I thought you had to wait until at least the following day? A guy in my feed posted something about Game of Thrones before I got a chance to watch it that same night!

Sincerely,

Totally Spoiled

 

Official Etiquette:

Both Miss Manners and the Emily Post Institute say that the onus is on you to avoid spoilers.

Our Take:

Victoria:  Okay, so spoilers. I have people on my Facebook wall threatening to de-friend other people for posting Game of Thrones spoilers. This is serious business! And should be an interesting discussion because I HATE spoilers and I know you don’t mind them. I think definitely you shouldn’t post anything at all until the episode has aired in all markets (for tv).

Jaya: Definitely, and also I like the point that sometimes popular shows air at the same time. Some people say that if you “really care” you’ll watch the show as soon as it airs, but maybe you wanted to watch two shows and DVR’ed one, and you think you’re safe if you watch it immediately after!

Victoria Hahah just avoid the internet entirely until you’ve watched everything. Ugh no. Personally, I don’t think you should post a spoiler in any kind of headline, ever.

Jaya:  Definitely not in headlines, but that’s more of a journalistic integrity thing. I do think some of this is self preservation. The chances of spoilers happening on social media is so high for really popular shows, so if not being spoiled is important to you, maybe avoid it. Though I don’t want to victim blame here…

Victoria Like it’s fine to say OMG GAME OF THRONES TONIGHT WAS INSANE but not like, this THING happened.

Jaya:  And even writing SPOILER ALERT: SO AND SO DIED is bad.  You read those words at the same time, that spoiler alert does nothing.

Victoria Yeah! I hate sneaky spoilers too- I once had something spoiled for me in a discussion of something completely unrelated.

Jaya:  Within a reasonable time frame, or way after the fact?

Victoria Waaaay after, but still.

Jaya:  I mean, I had lots of stuff in The Wire spoiled for me, but it aired 10 years ago, I should not expect people to not talk about it.

Victoria Yeah, I agree. And I mean, on the internet, its one thing. But I think if you are talking about something with actual people in person, it’s polite to ask “have you seen this, are you going to see it, do you mind if I talk about spoilers?”

Jaya:  I agree to an extent, but I do think there is a statue of limitations. Everyone is busy and may not have gotten around to consuming a show or movie or book they want to consume, but do you have to do it for everything? I haven’t seen Godfather II, should people check with me before discussing a famous movie that came out 40 years ago? If I’m discussing a mutually-enjoyed TV show with a friend, do I have to announce to everyone within earshot that they may want to move to another room?

Victoria I think that it’s fine to talk about old stuff in a general way, but you should still try to avoid real “spoilers” in the sense of things that actually spoil a big twist or surprise. And honestly, I think people do this pretty naturally.

Jaya:  True. I guess part of this conversation taps into my dislike of the idea of “spoilers” in general. I tend to think that a good story should not rely on a “twist,” and that the journey of an art form, not finding out what happens at the end, is what matters. Even if you know every detail of what happens in a story, you do not know how that story is told, and that is the true joy of art. But I get that not everyone thinks that way.

Victoria I see your point with that.

Jaya:  And I make an effort not to reveal anything that isn’t general cultural knowledge. But I’m sorry but if you don’t know the twist of The Sixth Sense you’ll just have to know it now.

Victoria Yeah, I guess some major things are such a cliche at this point that they aren’t even really spoilers. But man, if you are talking about a movie and someone says “I haven’t seen that yet” and you deliberately spoil it- that’s just not cool,

Jaya:  Oh yeah! That’s a dick move. But if you’re talking about Citizen Kane, and reveal something, and a person shouts “UGH way to go dude, I haven’t seen it,” I don’t think that’s my fault.  I think the longer a certain piece of media has been out, the more it’s on you to be vigilant about not getting spoiled.

Victoria And I personally am pretty good at catching them- I saw The Wire without any spoilers! Because I was hyper vigilant about not reading ANYTHING about The Wire, or like, Baltimore in general.

Jaya:  Hahaha, yeah! Like if you know you’re gonna watch The Wire, and someone brings it up, it may be your job to remove yourself from the conversation. Obviously this is harder on social media when things just pop up, but also maybe have a sense of humor. There was a Portlandia sketch that “spoiled” one Wire point for me. Oh well, it’s been 10 years, I’ve had enough time. And it’s not like knowing it made the show worse.

Victoria Yeah, I have actually sought out things after they were spoiled because it made them sound more interesting than I had originally thought!

Jaya:  Hahahaha, yeah! that’s the flip side of spoilers! But yeah, with social media, definitely not that day for TV shows, or probably the first week or two a movie is out. Books I don’t know.

Victoria: Yeah, books, maybe a few months?

Jaya:  Also I feel like books are so complicated that if you say “omg I can’t believe Anna didn’t get the abortion in This Novel” I’d be like okay, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Victoria Yeah, the only major book spoiler i can think of is the big Harry Potter one.

Jaya:  You mean that Ron is the last horcrux?

Victoria Basically.

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2 thoughts on “Spoiler Alert! Are Spoilers Rude?

  1. For TV shows as they’re airing, I feel like the rule people generally follow is “about a week,” and I think that’s reasonable — it lets people catch up if they’ve DVRed it, or watch it when it’s re-aired the day before the new episode or whatever, until the next episode has actually aired, at which point a person who hasn’t seen the previous episode yet is officially Behind On The Show and it’s their job to announce that when it comes up in conversation.

    The other big rule that I would include in this is: if you’re discussing spoilers on social media, or in another online community of some kind, learn and use the tools that will make it easier for people to avoid them! Like, use the relevant tags so people can block them, or use a “Read More” cut if you’re on Tumblr, or whatever. It’s more fun for everybody that way — you don’t lose followers, your friends don’t get spoiled, and no one has to have a huge fight.

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