Serialized television programming is nothing new. However, the current theatrical level of production value, and the mass-scale emotional investment in the characters that today’s shows bring to life, happened sometime within the last twenty years or so. Somewhere along the line, somebody somewhere, realized that you could deliver the same experience you get when attending a film’s theatrical exhibition, only on a week-to-week basis on broadcast and cable TV, and even digital subscription services like Netflix and Hulu. Shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, True Detective, Game of Thrones, The Wire, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, etcetera, etcetera have taken over people’s lives. These shows are designed to leave you hanging, sometimes for periods of time that can exceed even a year. The fate of your favorite character hangs in the balance, and you’ve waited months upon months to continue the story.
Along with the increase in output, as well as an increase in the level of storytelling, production values, acting, and pretty much everything that makes a piece of entertainment “good” comes a phenomenon known as “spoilers.” To spoil a show, movie, book, or any type of serialized entertainment, is to hastily make known the happenings of the latest installment. We’re in a generation now, where people have gotten it into their heads that others are just waiting with bated breath to hear their specific thoughts about a particular topic. It’s one of the darker elements of social networking, this vanity that it creates within some, that causes them to(sometimes purposefully) ruin the experience of watching the latest episode of your favorite show. It may seem silly to you that a person can have so much invested emotionally, into a piece of fiction. However, I can assure you, that you do the same thing with whatever you’re passionate about. Yes, you, even you, grumbling hipster who hates The Walking Dead, but for some reason wastes hours of your life every Sunday complaining about the show.
For example, some people just dislike spectator sports, or at least the spectating part of it. But every time there is some kind of sporting event, we’re treated to several hours worth of minute-by-minute updates as to exactly what is transpiring within said big game, match, or whatever. Hours before seeing people complain about the amount of The Walking Dead related posts showing up in their news feeds, there was a wrestling pay per view. And some of these same people who were complaining, were posting their opinions of said pay per view, almost minutely. Everything that happened, a new post. This doesn’t make sense to me at all. How can you hijack Facebook with your every thought about every second of one thing, and then complain about a different group of people doing the same? Not only that, but people’s enjoyment of The Walking Dead, for some reason, gets under this kind of person’s skin to the point that they are posting spoilers they’ve read, on purpose. The excuses given when called out, range from “Well, you should just stay off of Facebook until you’ve watched the show” to “You shouldn’t be so emotionally invested in a TV show.” You’ll notice that neither of these statements absolve them of their shitty behavior, and both are illogical suggestions.
Let’s start with the suggestion that you should stay off of Facebook until you’ve had the opportunity to see the latest episode of your favorite show. Is this a realistic, logical suggestion? Personally, I have several people with whom I converse daily, who I can only speak to on Facebook. Also, running a website, a podcast, or any other sort of thing requires almost constant connectivity in one way or the other. I should not have to go completely incommunicado just because you either lack self-awareness, or have a chip on your shoulder and feel like ruining someone’s evening. I realize, that by logging onto Facebook, simply to check my messages, I run the risk of running into some dickbag who desperately required a quick attention fix, and chose to do so by purposefully post spoilers about a show they claim to hate. That doesn’t excuse the behavior though. I am vigilant when checking my messages on the PC, but when I log in, and the very first thing my browser loads is a post from some wannabe alternative curmudgeon, delivering major spoilers directly to the top of every one of their Facebook friend’s news feeds, how is it that I/we are the ones in the wrong? You’re not edgy, and everyone sees through your schtick. Instead of telling me that I should just stay off of Facebook until I can watch the new episode, in an attempt to justify your poor social skills, how about you focus your energy on something that you personally enjoy?
This suggestion also ignores the fact that some people need to wait for a friend/partner to be able to watch the show with them. So you’re saying, if my wife has to work on a Sunday night, and we have to wait until the next weekend to double feature both episodes, that I should be expected to stay out of contact with all of my Facebook friends for an entire week, just so that you can safely exert your assholeism? That sounds like a reasonable request to you? It isn’t, I promise. I do my best to avoid spoilers. I know that if somebody makes a vague post about an episode of TV that just aired, or a movie which just hit theaters, that within the comments underneath that post, there will likely be spoilers, so I avoid it. However, to put a spoiler directly in your initial post, something that is delivered to every one of your facebook friends who haven’t already unfollowed you, is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter that you think my enjoyment of whatever show/movie is silly, or that I brought it onto myself by logging onto Facebook in the first place, you’re still a shitty person. Or, at the very least, completely oblivious to the fact that no, you are not the center of the universe.
The second suggestion, that people shouldn’t be so “emotionally invested” in a piece of fiction is just asinine. Take a glance at your own Facebook wall. Do you see what I mean? Do you see the countless posts about that thing you’re passionate about? You’re doing the same thing that you are whining about other people doing. So just cut the shit, okay? You’re not special, you’re not “above” anyone who enjoys something that you do not. You’re just obnoxious, bored, grumpy and desperate for attention. Do any of these things sound like good qualities? Is it worth it? Is being shitty to others that important to you? If the answer to any of these questions is anything but “no” then there is no helping you. You are a bad person, and you will never change. I’m sorry that the thing that made you so jaded, so uncaring, so inconsiderate of other people happened to you, but really, I don’t care. Tons of shitty things have happened to me during my thirty-however many years I’ve been alive, and I don’t go out of my way to be a dickhead to you. Well, maybe some of you, but I’m sure you deserve it. Be that as it may, I still don’t seek out something that could spoil your enjoyment of whatever it is that you have found to love in this life, and smack you in the face with it like a slimy wet dick.
I know how excited Walking Dead fans(or fans of any show, movie, or any other piece of entertainment) can get about their show, and how obnoxious and relentless they can be about it on the internet, but you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, and the same ability to scroll right past those posts, the same way I do with all of your posts about wrestling, football, basketball or anything else I find to be boring and/or annoying. You’re not making a statement. You’re not “bucking the system” or “damning the man” by dishing out spoilers to unsuspecting fans. Or, by extension, professing your disdain for said fans invading your Facebook feeds with a show they are passionate about. You’re being shitty to people, and there’s no way around it. No excuse, no suggestion, no blame you could issue to the victim of your shitty behavior that changes that fact. So next week, before you waste your own time bitching about, and going to great lengths to spoil a piece of entertainment you have already told us a thousand times you couldn’t care less about, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Ask yourself if you’re being clever, or if you’re being cruel. Sure, you may get a few supporting comments from people who are equally as oblivious, or equally as shitty as you are, but it means nothing. I can find a frog penetrating a wet turd on the internet if I look hard enough. Does that mean anything to you?
I’m making a list of people who do this, and the things that they love. If ever I am granted the gift of time travel, or, you know, a Grays Sports Almanac, I fully intend on ruining that football game, that wrestling match, or whatever it is that you enjoy. My hope is that you had a very long day at work, trying desperately to avoid the final score, or the winner of the match. That way I can watch you squirm as I tell you that you shouldn’t be so emotionally invested in that thing. Treat others how you wish to be treated. Is that really that hard of a concept to wrap your head around?