Confession: I've never watched Game of Thrones. Well, that's not technically true. I watched the first episode a few years ago, found it mildly entertaining but not terribly gripping, and never watched another one. Life has been fine without it. Several people I know, however, love the show, and that's great, but something I've noticed is that folks really, really don't want episodes of the show spoiled for them. Like, really.
Game of Thrones isn't the only program to elicit cries of 'Don't spoil it for me!' from its fans. LOST comes to mind. I actually had someone unfriend me on Facebook because I posted something about a LOST episode a few minutes after it aired. They hadn't watched it yet, and we even got into a discussion about time zones and what not. It was way more intense than it needed to be. On another occasion, a friend chastised me for openly discussing events of The Walking Dead that were six months old. He explained how, given his schedule, he can't watch every show he wants at air time, so he records them, then goes back -- sometimes months or even a year later -- and watches them.
Spoilers can even reach to sports. My own mom will sometimes record baseball games and watch them later. She does not -- under any circumstances -- want the progress or result of the game spoiled in any way. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were out to dinner with my mom. She was recording a Cardinals game. A TV at the restaurant we were at had the game on. I (innocently) almost blurted out what the score was. Mom shushed me. I didn't say anything, but thought, in a bemused manner, what mom would make of Facebook (if she were on it). Sports fans seem to always celebrate victory for their teams the moment a game is over. I see the big 'W' posted by Cubs fans a lot. Would my mom be right to tell them to stop?
With this latest season of Game of Thrones, anti-spoiler outrage has been taken up a notch. Angry fans who, for whatever reason, can't or won't watch the show at air time manage to find themselves on social media, and rant about some plot points that other people are posting -- as the show airs, or right after it airs. The angry folk even hit the people doing the spoiling with some pretty negative labels. It's not pretty.
It would seem there are two schools of thought on this, though the people angry at being spoiled seem to be the more vocal of the two. Either people who are watching a show at air time need to not comment about the show on social media for an indeterminate period of time, or the folks who don't want to be spoiled need to keep themselves off of social media. Those are really the only two options, as I see it. Twitter and Facebook have mute features, where you can still officially follow or be friends with someone, but their feed will no longer appear in your feed. Perhaps that is a workaround?
I dunno, watching something on TV is sometimes an event. It can be argued that a Game of Thrones episode falls into this category (the way I see my friends act about it would seem to bear this out). We're in an age of Internet and social media connectivity, and so it's become only natural to talk about these events online with others. Why do you think they've been doing so many live musical shows on TV of late? They're events. They want people talking about them online. Why do you think so many shows throw-up their hashtags during the program? Hint: social media.
To be honest, I'm a little taken aback at someone who would demand that no one talk about a show until they've had a chance to watch it. When is the magic time frame to discuss? An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year? It's all so nebulous and ill-defined, that I feel as though the burden should fall on the one who doesn't want to be spoiled.
It all boils down to a self-control issue for either party: the ones who can't help posting about a show in immediate time, and those who can't stop themselves from being on social media while a show they like but can't watch immediately is airing. This is 2017, after all. The immediacy of the Internet/social media age should come as a surprise to no one.