3.Sep – { On the Wall: Views From a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens – “A Warning”

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Your Facebook Account and Twitter Feed are not Your Personal TV Diary:  A Warning

Random Facebook DGAFer*:  OMG I can’t believe Walt just shot Walt Jr. in the face!

Comment:  DUDE!  Spoilers!

The world of fast, up-to-the-second connection with everyone via the Internet and especially social media has led to a shifting paradigm in how we watch TV and movies.  Before the last decade, while there were message boards and such, most people were still in the mode of “water cooler talk” from the previous generation from the 80s and back.  You watched a movie or a TV show, you found someone at work that’d seen it and discuss it in the break room.  If it was a TV show, especially the days before DVRs, streaming content and such, anyone who’d missed it was just left out; you had to listen to how awesome it was to see the reveal of Who Shot JR or the finale of M*A*S*H*.*

If it was a movie, maybe you closed your ears and ran out screaming “la la la I can’t HEAR you…” or asked them not spoil it for you.

But the actual term “spoilers” coined from the above “spoil” was an invention of the early internet.  Message boards and UseNet dedicated to certain movies or shows etc would institute their own policing so people wouldn’t just blurt out some cool thing that happened in a new movie or kept foreigners where the show hadn’t aired yet unspoiled and still able to visit and discuss other topics.

Early Internet adopters were very good at this; it was part of the culture (minus a few trolls or newbies).  Then along came Web 2.0, the colloquial name for the Internet age of social media.

While the web was growing in the 90s and early 00s, it exploded in the age of Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Now people who had barely ever used the internet for anything but checking stocks and surfing porn were now communicating with each other about everything and anything.  The problem was…these people did not have that ingrained habit of spoiler protection.  They were still of the mindset of the water cooler days.  Movies, books are a bit different; most people do seem to realize not everyone is reading/watching at the same time.  But with TV, they still assume everyone is watching live with them.  This coupled with the social media driven need to post your thoughts and emotions right then in real time.  People who watch later via Hulu or TiVo have learned to try to avoid any and all internet if they want to remain unspoiled.

This is not right, folks.  Netiquette needs to be ingrained in the unwashed masses of late adopters of this World Wide Web.  It’s not 1988 anymore; probably half the world watches their shows at their convenience.   You may just be thinking of your two or three bestest buds you know are watching with you and are posting to them; your social media account more than likely reaches a much broader target than what you’re imagining at that moment.

I propose mandatory Spoiler Training for all users of the social media spread.  My rules are thus and to be enforced via Internet Police, okay maybe just everyone dog piling on these people into a spiral of shame and sorrow.

  1.  48 hour spoiler protection for live TV.  Anyone who wants to see it that badly will find a way within that time window.   If you’re waiting for the DVD, come on now.  It’s 2013.  We can’t baby everyone.
  2. Movie spoilers up to the first week of DVD release.  Movies are coming out faster and faster to home media, and there should be some respect for those that tried to see it in theaters but just couldn’t for whatever reason.  Week of the DVD release you have no excuse if you want to see it that bad.
  3. Books you probably need to give a year.  This is the old media, and most read at their leisure, some wait for paperbacks or the price to go down in the Kindle/IBook’s store.  Anything pressing you want to discuss in literature you can surely find a message board somewhere to do it.

If we can all agree to these rules and enforce them via social network pressure, our Internet world will be a better place.

*Don’t Give a Fish

**Sure, we had VCRs by the 80s but they were notoriously unreliable.  Live TV was still the overwhelming norm.