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Spoilers are one of entertainment’s biggest problems

by Joey Davidson | December 6, 2016December 6, 2016 9:00 am PDT

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Entertainment has changed. That especially goes for television. We don’t consume shows the way we used to, say, 10 or 20 years ago.

Back then, as if it was all that long ago, we had one shot to watch a TV show: when it aired. If you wanted to be in on the conversation the next day when your friends referenced the most recent absurd turn of events in Seinfeld, you needed to watch it the night before.

You had no other options, short of piracy (which was in its infancy) or recording the show on *gasp* VHS.

Today? Like I really have to explain how this works…

Every network offers on-demand viewing in some fashion. Those who still subscribe to cable can watch shows live, and some networks post things as soon as they air, but the option to watch something after it’s happened live is a new industry standard.

In fact, culture has shifted to accept delayed viewing as standard.

Not everyone watches TV as it airs

I know I don’t. I’m married. I have two kids. I play (exceedingly long) video games for a living. I have friends and neighbors who hang out in the evenings. My wife and I sit down to watch “TV” once or twice a week, as time allows. When we do, we watch contemporary television, whether it’s House of Cards or Westworld.

I’m not alone in this endeavor. Anecdotally, a large majority of my friends catch shows days and weeks after they air. Conversations at gatherings routinely contain the phrase “have you caught up on *blank* yet?” More times than not, no, we haven’t.

TV isn’t live anymore. It starts live, but then it moves to on-demand, and the world watches it when they demand it. That’s the whole point of customer-based content control. We can sit down to watch the shows we want to watch when we want to watch them.

It’s been liberating, but it’s also given absurd life to the world of spoilers.

I hate spoilers

Where’s this coming from? Westworld.

I’m one episode behind. One. The finale aired this Sunday night. I cleared the deck and ignored everything about it since my wife was working late. We were going to catch up Monday night.

I make my way through the night, avoiding the internet, playing Final Fantasy XV and heading to bed completely in the dark, both thanks to my room’s lights and not knowing what happened in the show.

I hop online the next day, and a single tweet from an actual, verified news outlet spoils the big reveal. I won’t share it, but the tweet essentially ruined like 10 hours of TV for me in a single swing. It wasn’t even necessary, either. Why? Why spoil it?

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Even better? The tweet was fired off before the show had a chance to air on the west coast. That meant the responses to the tweet were even angrier than mine. Holy smokes, people were going off on this site for their move.

I don’t blame them. Spoilers are garbage. People who spew out spoilers for popular media in comment sections at random are the worst of the worst, relatively speaking.

I get it, live-tweeting is the new instant water cooler

“Then just stay off Twitter!”

No, you’re totally right on this. I agree. When a show airs (and a few hours after), I know not to fire up social media. I know the internet at large will be firing off about what’s going on. That is totally cool, and I support it entirely. I actually think it’s a really awesome and positive use of social media.

It’s my responsibility as an on-demand viewer to clear the water cooler when a show is live. I don’t have an exact “it’s safe to come back” timeframe, but I tend to wait until the morning after. I have to be online for work, after all, so it’s impossible for me to just stop using social media until I’m caught up.

I get it, I didn’t pull out my soapbox to yell at people about going nuts on Facebook over Game of Thrones. You do it. I don’t blame.

Have some dang respect for the narrative, though

Just, please, toss me a spoiler warning or something.

I’ve spent hours and hours watching these shows, too. I’m just as invested in them as you are. When I’m caught up, I binge on fan theories and whatever else. When I’m days behind, I wait for my wife and I to actually have free time and I blast through the show.

For my sake, and for people like me (There are dozens of us. Dozens!), respect the fact that we want to be shocked and wowed, too.

Narrative matters. Creators slave over these stories for months and years before we see them. People pile around their TVs, laptops and tablets to take each step in as it happens. Maybe chill out and let people enjoy those moments, huh? That would be nice of you.


Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...

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