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An interesting conversation took place on Facebook and email, and I thought I would bring it to a new space in order to continue it (by which I mean, rope more people in).  I watched the Doctor Who Christmas special along with 8 billion other Whovians.  You may notice that I said 8 billion and are about to suck in your breath and say, “Melissa, there aren’t 8 billion people on Earth.”  And you’re right, but seriously, do you really think that all Whovians are on our planet?  What about the Slitheen on Raxacoricofallapatorius not to mention the Sisters of Plenitude of New Earth? Don’t you think they are watching the specials as well?


Anyway, I watched the Christmas special and when it was over, I said thank G-d someone’s contract was renewed for another season.

And people responded: spoilers!

(I’m sorry!  I’m really really sorry!)

Okay, but it begged the question — when is it a spoiler?  To me, a spoiler only applies if the movie, book, event, etc is going to be consumed at different rates and at different times by different people.  When the event is at a set point in time and people discuss it online, I don’t consider it a spoiler.

For instance, it would have been crappy to reveal the ending to Harry Potter 7 online because people read at a different rate.  So even if the vast majority of the world purchased the book at the same time, they may not have finished it at the same time.  Or it would have been crappy to reveal the ending of Gone Girl, the movie, because everyone couldn’t see it at the same time.  Theaters cannot hold infinite amounts of people, therefore, only a certain amount of people saw the first showing, second showing, etc.  Like books, we consume movies at different points in time.

But televised events such as the Super Bowl, the Oscars, election results: all of those have a set start and end time.  Some people may not be able to view them in the time slot that the event is set, and they will tape or DVR the event.  Therefore the question needs to be asked: is it a spoiler if other people have a public conversation about the event on social media during the time of the event?

In other words, should people not discuss events online since some people may have needed to DVR the event and watch later, or should people who can’t watch during the set time avoid social media if they care about spoilers?

I’ve always subscribed to the second thought: if I don’t want something ruined, I don’t go online.  But my online information consumption is fenced off.  I only go on Facebook once or twice a day, and the same goes for Twitter, et al.  If I know I haven’t seen something yet, I just skip going on social media until I have seen it.  I don’t leave social media open all time.  If I did leave social media open all the time, it would be impossible to tape any major event and watch it later.  It feels like someone out there is live Tweeting something at all times.

Of course, compounding this problem is the fact that we all live in different time zones.  I didn’t look at social media on Christmas after it became evening in the UK because I assumed people over there would be watching the episode hours before me.

Anyway, it feels like these two things are in direct conflict: we’re a DVR-obsessed planet, determined to watch things when they are convenient to us vs. being held to television’s schedule BUT we’re also a social media-obsessed planet, determined to talk about everything in real time.

Apologies to everyone I’m friends with on Facebook who had someone’s contract renewal spoiled.  Thank you for not popping through the computer to kick my shins.  I click my sonic screwdriver at you in gratitude.

To everyone else, what do you think?   Can it be a spoiler if someone talks about a time-set event?

Consider this a reminder that you have two days until #MicroblogMonday.  Get working on your post.


1 tigger62077 { 12.27.14 at 11:22 am }

I try not to give spoilers if I know there is a good chance that someone in my feed has not watched something. For example, I know that I have one friend who is refusing to let go of 11. Any conversations about 12 take place via messenger with friends…most of the time, at any rate. I usually give people a week to watch the show because yes, I know that people can’t watch at the same rate and I HATE having things spoiled for me. If I’m traipsing along the next day and BAM – no. I try to stay off my social media the night of but it doesn’t always happen. For the most part the majority of my people are good about either not posting spoilers or they post that it contains one so I know to skip it…or they just put something like “AH! DW Christmas! Someone who has seen it want to talk because AH!” and then we know.

That being said, I did NOT know the contract had been renewed and I’m pissed. I’m pissed because they totally broke format with this special as to what they’ve done in the past, because they SAID that she was going to be gone, and now she isn’t. I like her but dammit. They had it all set up perfectly in the last episode before this for her to be gone and nope. *sigh*

2 earthandink { 12.27.14 at 1:46 pm }

I think it’s in the middle. If you are someone who doesn’t like spoilers, then you need to do your best to see something or read something early on and to stay away from social media until you have viewed/read that. (Granted, reading you need to keep away from lots of sites if, for instance, right now you’re reading book 6 of Harry Potter for the first time.)

I will admit that I don’t care if something’s spoiled or not. I think it’s from living in LA and over-hearing conversations between people writing movies or TV. I would know what was going to happen five episodes in the future. Or I’d bump in to a location (there was a popular TV show that had a location that basically was a spoiler that was set up in a park near my home … what do you do with that? Answer: you think to yourself, living here has some very cool moments. And you have a secret until the show airs.)

I purposefully DIDN’T blog about this stuff so I wasn’t spoiling things for my readers. It’s part of the Angeleno Pledge: I will not spoil TV and movies for those who are not Angeleos. I try not to do spoilers.

Also, having lived in LA, you’re ALWAYS happy when someone’s contract is renewed because that means they get to work longer. Even the best actor may have trouble getting another gig. Working is a huge good thing in the LA mind. Contract renewal = happy dances all around. (And all of that rolls down hill: to set design and costume and makeup and drivers and on and on.)

Live tweets happen. As do Facebook conversations. Best not to go on social media until you’ve seen something if you don’t want to know. Otherwise, it’s 2014. Spoilers are a given.

I also miss when everyone would watch the same thing at the same time: the annual viewing of Wizard of Oz, for instance. Live tweeting and its ilk reminds me of those times: sharing the joys of viewing something, almost a way of creating community. So I will gladly trade having a spoiler, even a major one, for community. Every time.

3 Working mom of 2 { 12.27.14 at 4:18 pm }

I also sorta miss the days if live only tv, although that really wouldn’t fit fit with my life right now post-kids. But since those days are over I do think tv is more like the movies or books re spoilers. For instance we cut the cord about 6 mo ago and have only netflix and huluplus stream, do we always watch things later than they go live. I try to avoid online news about the few shows I watch but sometimes it’s hard–eg I often scroll google news and once in awhile I’ll accidentally see who got kicked off dwts before I watch it.

4 Mali { 12.27.14 at 4:25 pm }

I gave a little moan on FB, but primarily because I had missed the scheduled time of the show (still about four hours after you saw it), and I’m at my mother’s and she has no recording devices. It is recorded at home, so I’ll see it, and I was prepared to get some hints from FB. I am used to spoilers, because I have a lot of US friends on FB, and they have just one or two non-US friends, so our time lines don’t really factor into their thoughts on what to post. Though they’re usually pretty good just saying things like ‘I think this might be my favourite Doctor” or “I didn’t see that coming.” It’s when I find out what happens in the final ever episode of a series (has happened once or twice) that I fume at the injustices of global online life. Staying off FB then for a week or more isn’t really feasible. It’s the way it is.

These days when everyone records TV and watches at their own pace, I find it difficult to have conversations with anyone (online or IRL) because we’re all at different stages of a programme. In real life though, we’re able to say “did you see the latest XXX?” And gives the other person the option to say, “no! DON’T TELL ME!” (Yes, they usually shout those last three words.). More difficult to do this online.

5 Jamie { 12.27.14 at 4:28 pm }

Not a spoiler. You were living in the moment and being part of a larger dialogue that was certain to happen about a television show. It is the responsibility of those who do not want to know to avoid social media until they can watch it. Books and movies are different and it is nice for people to wait or buffer those responses or comments. But, with books and movies there are ways of expressing yourself with out giving too much away either. TV shows are fair game for immediate response because many times the turn around to the next episode is a week. Water cooler talk. You are fine.

6 Middle Girl { 12.27.14 at 11:44 pm }

While I might not watch a sporting event after learning the outcome, I will see a movie, watch a television program, or read a book after “spoiler” is revealed. I want to experience it (the whole of it) for myself.

I hardly ever write or post about tv or movie events, as I don’t want (or need) that particular pressure. If one is thrown by spoilers then one certainly shouldn’t be online for if the tv/movie/book is popular it most certainly will be “reported” and / or spoiled.

7 JustHeather { 12.28.14 at 6:12 am }

No tv here…I am so out of the loop with what is going on. Add to that fact that I’m not in the US and the shows we get here (on TV and sometimes movies) are shown weeks, seasons and sometimes years later than in the US. If there is something I happen to be following from the US (sometimes American Idol) I will avoid sites (easy to do) and not read posts where I see AI mentioned until I have watched my show too. I think it is up to the individual to protect themselves if they don’t want to read something online.

8 Valery Valentina { 12.28.14 at 2:20 pm }

Do you have any idea how cryptic this is to read for someone not on social media and not watching tv?
I’m the type of person who quickly checks the last page of a book, so I always love any spoilers! Sometimes the spoilers are what makes me read/watch in the first place.

9 Nimue { 12.30.14 at 4:40 am }

I do not like live tweeting.
Or people who do that. But yeah , after 12 hrs , some one or other will post a spoiler online ! It just can not be helped in today’s age of information overflow.
I conciously avoid reading about the show end / movie end if I plan to watch it within 2-3 days. Beyond that, you will end up knowing all yourself.

10 Delenn { 12.30.14 at 9:40 am }

Me and you will have to agree to disagree on whether it is a good thing that someone’s contract is renewed…I cannot stand the character. (If this is indeed the character that rhymes with Blara).

As for spoilers, I guess I would not expect it from the actual source–like, say, how AMC’s Facebook Feed for the Walking Dead spoiled a character death in the season finally. However, if you are online, and your friends are watchers…you have to expect that you might get spoiled. 🙂

11 Keiko { 12.31.14 at 12:22 am }

I’m a fan of Jenna Coleman as actress, but not so much a fan of Clara Oswald. It’s time for a new Companion. #DonnaNoble4LYFE

12 andy { 12.31.14 at 7:38 am }

I’m with you on this one .

And my comments here are an indication of how I work with social media. I DVRd the Christmas Special and only just watched it yesterday. I saw in my blog feed that your post was called Spoiler and mentioned the episode, so I didn’t click through and read it, least the show be spoiled for me.

I think that specific timed events are open to discussion as soon as they are over (or even during). People who know they can’t watch them “live” need to decide if they want to be spoiled or not and skip areas of media that might do that for them.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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