Warning: The following article spoils plot points for last week’s episode of Mad Men, the film Sound of My Voice, this week’s episode of Community, perhaps a bit of Game of Thrones and potentially everything else. If you aren’t completely caught up on the world of entertainment, you probably shouldn’t read it. Oh, and LOST. It spoils all of LOST.
“Twitter is the new water cooler, folks — If you come to get a drink, you’re gonna hear people talking about last night’s TV.” That’s an interesting sentiment to read in the Twitter feed of Damon Lindelof, who was an integral piece behind one of television’s most secretive, conspiratorial experiences of the modern era. Yet the executive producer of LOST has a point: if you are on Twitter on any given night — or in movie time, any given weekend — people are going to be talking about the things that have just happened. And Twitter being what it is — an uncontrollable stream of unfiltered, ever-hazardous culture-obsessed id looking for a good time — it’s likely that if you’re not current, you are going to find some spoilers. This is the world we live in.
This week seems to have brought this epidemic further into focus than any previous frame. While Lindelof was making his comments, respected film critic Drew McWeeney was spending a second consecutive Sunday evening bemoaning the lack of tact seen in his fellow Mad Men fans. He didn’t want to know that Roger Sterling dropped acid. He doesn’t care that it was awesome. And he didn’t appreciate East Coast viewers flooding the Tweetosphere with that information. Later in the week, our good friend Peter Hall of Movies.com fame observed: “It’s a good thing I don’t care about Community spoilers, because you motherfuckers are cavalier with them.” Personally, I didn’t need to know that Starburns died on last night’s episode — I haven’t watched it yet. Yet I knew the risks, and braved the world of Twitter, anyway.
Sometime later — this morning, to be exact — our own managing editor Cole Abaius found himself inadvertently spoiling Sound of My Voice simply by retweeting an article he found interesting over at /Film. Even though I’m of the opinion that being aware of the fact that the film involves time travel isn’t a spoiler, but merely a first act plot point that feeds into the allure of the main character. Knowing that won’t ruin your experience, unless you’re hyper-sensitive. Then again, you’re probably the type who doesn’t watch trailers, read IMDb or watch commercials, either. I still think you’re a little too sensitive to minute things that may disturb your experience.
Then again, that’s one of the big problems: how do we even define a spoiler? A larger argument for a different day and a more intelligent writer, that.
What I believe to be interesting is the casual nature of Twitter and the dangers it causes. You wouldn’t speak loudly about Ned Stark’s head rolling late in season one of Game of Thrones in a crowded room of your trusted friends. That is, unless you knew that every single one of them had seen it. Right? Or would you? Would you also stand up in a room of your closest happy hour friends, all of whom you know are as pop culture obsessed as yourself, and explode into a rant about how “their all dead and meeting in a church at the end” was a stupid way to end LOST? Okay, maybe you would. But what if you were only 70% sure that everyone had finished watching the show?
The point is that we all have things we love. And those things happen, sometimes at inconvenient times. Maybe we can’t make it to see Mad Men on Sunday nights, or we’re a little behind on one of the 347 watchable shows currently on TV. Maybe we’re film bloggers, and we saw that time travel cult movie with the hot blonde at Sundance two years ago. We have to understand that not everyone is consuming at the same time. There’s no dinner bell ringing outside the pop-culture’s cabin in the woods. Yet, there’s also no rules for Twitter. Except for child pornography, you can’t post that on Twitter. Seriously.
So what is a responsible adult who loves their entertainment to do in a world gone mad with advanced plot details? I can’t give you the answer, because there may not be one. However, here’s what I (try to) do:
Unfollow them — If someone is a constant source of spoilers, just let them go. I’ve done this with a few friends here and there. Despite my yearning to know what they have for lunch each day or what physical changes have occurred in their cat since yesterday, I don’t really miss them. If they say something truly profound, someone I do follow will undoubtedly retweet them. My life goes on, with a few less spoilers.
Don’t be part of the problem — Be part of the solution. Before posting something on Twitter ask yourself, “would I say this in a crowded room of my friends, knowing that everyone may not be caught up?” This isn’t a perfect solution — it might not even be a credo that I’ve followed in my four years on Twitter — but it’s a start. Be reasonable, be mature and you may just set a good example for those around you.
If not, at least you’re not that dick who writes spoilers for everything into one article. That’s me. Then again, I did warn you.
And now you’ve been warned about Twitter.