We may not have many rules here in the wiki-wiki-wild-wild west of the Internet, but isn’t this one we can all agree on?
This Sunday’s Downton Abbey featured probably the biggest WTF moment of the entire series – one from which all fans are still reeling. (I saw the episode months ago through, um, channels, and I’m not even close to being over it.) One of our dearest readers was flabbergasted at a Facebook friend’s blatantly spoilery status update (THE MORNING AFTER) and her lack of remorse when her friends rightfully called her out on her poor netiquette. According to the culprit, her status wasn’t a spoiler because the episode HAD ALREADY AIRED. So, let me get this straight…she thinks that the definition of “spoiler” is just whatever a person can find out about an upcoming episode of Breaking Bad after breaking into Vince Gilligan’s office under the dark cloak of night and making off with his hard drive?
Can we just not do this to each other? They’re called “spoilers” because they RUIN the viewing experience for anyone who comes across them. Posting a spoiler on Facebook is like walking up to somebody who’s eating their lunch, licking your palm, and then pressing it down on their sandwich while maintaining constant eye contact. It’s cyber bullying for nerds.
And why?! WHY, for the love of Pete, are people compelled to do these things? We GET it. You, like THE REST OF THE WORLD, are like, SUPER into Downton. Congratulations on having your finger on the pulse of something that’s completely mainstream. If you need to talk it about right away, let me introduce you to my friends at Tumblr, who had gif-setted that scene with weepy song lyrics about 30 seconds after it aired in the UK. Or you could, I don’t know, have a PRIVATE conversation about it with a friend. Call your mom. Call your therapist. Whatever you need, man. Just KEEP IT OFF FACEBOOK.
By now, we all know better than to surf Twitter or Tumblr when we’re trying to avoid being spoiled. They are fandom central and just can’t help themselves. But Facebook is where you go to see pictures of your nephews and RSVP to birthday parties. I COULD swear off Facebook for the next six months until I finally watch Homeland. But how about I just hope that none of the family members, friends, acquaintances, or nemeses on my timeline decide to swap out the usual baby bump picture update for a major plot point reveal status? Let’s make Facebook a safe zone, ya’ll. Otherwise, we have no choice than to Clockwork Orange ourselves and watch everything immediately as it airs in real time or retreat from society all together.
The existence of boxed sets, onDemand, and Netflix Instant have all extended the statute of limitations on spoilers. Unless it’s a part of public consciousness or internationally known catchphrase, keep the big reveal (character death, goody turned baddy, a ship that happened or didn’t, etc…) to yourself or to the fandom (trust me, they are out there and ready for you). At any given moment, anyone can decide to embark on a full completed series and I, for one, believe in your right to enjoy it just as much as any original fan ever did. I put an entire post about a show that ended seven years ago under a cut, for crying out loud. At this day in age, it’s only right.
There are ways to brag on Facebook about how culturally relevant you are without inspiring murderous feelings in anyone who wasn’t watching PBS on Sunday night. So, just…don’t be that guy. Spoiler alert: everybody hates that guy.