I woke up on Monday, reached for my phone and went through my morning routine: Text messages, check. Viber, check. E-mail, check. Instagram, check.
Then I tapped on the Twitter bird and the first thing I read was a “Game of Thrones” spoiler from a wise-ass wailing about what happened in the season 5 finale.
“Goddamn it,” I muttered.
I switched to Facebook and was greeted by another spoiler. I put my phone down.
I spent the rest of the day tip-toeing around the Internet, averting my eyes and scrolling quickly every time I saw the words “Game” or “Thrones” or “#GoT.”
Welcome to the age of social media, in which our computers and phones become a minefield of spoilers, annihilating the fun and suspense of watching our favorite TV shows.
That night, I stopped working long enough to watch the “Game of Thrones” finale, no longer because I was dying to see it but because I was tired of being twitchy and jittery in front of my laptop.
And when that thing happened (I told you, there will be no spoilers here), I wasn’t as moved as I thought I would be.
Maybe it’s the spoiler, I thought. Or maybe this cruel but captivating show has finally succeeded in teaching me to detach myself from its characters.
As I turned my attention back to my computer, my bigger thought was: “Bring on the spoilers, jerks. You don’t scare me now.”
“Game of Thrones” may have just ended, but I started watching a different battle online—one almost as riveting as the fight over the Iron Throne.
“A simple smile or frown or any reaction to ‘GoT’ is a spoiler. So just don’t. Oo na napanood mo na. Ikaw na magaling. So shut up!,” wrote my friend Francis on Facebook.
“Keep telling us how dead you are inside, people who find pleasure/gratification/kick posting spoilers on Facebook,” Louie wrote.
“If I were a character in ‘GoT’ and you were my child, I would decapitate your empty f*cking head. Now to stay away frommy FB feed before I murder someone’s entire clan,” posted Ping.
Another posted a Mommy Dionisia meme as a warning to potential spoilers.
Parokya Ni Edgar’s Chito Miranda wrote, “Kung may maglabas ng spoiler, unfriend ko agad. Wala akong kaibigan na tanga.”
Explosion of tweets
There was an explosion of tweets, with some calling spoilers “the worst kind of people.”
@mansonkullin said: “Why do people post spoilers like literally everyone will hate you, do you just want eternal hate or something? is that your goal?!”
@frickfranceschi tweeted: “Why do people post spoilers. Why do people purposely try to ruin lives.”
People were furious about the spoilers, but some people were mad at the people who were mad about the spoilers.
“I wish there was a ‘Game of Thrones’ character who violently murdered people who don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ as soon as it comes out and then complain about spoilers,” said Therese.
People defended their right to free speech, others fought for their right to watch their beloved shows unspoiled.
Watch the show on time, some said. We have work to do, others shot back.
There were threats of violence. There was name-calling. Friends were unfriended or blocked.
“I now live in a Facebook house divided because of these spoilers,” said Marlon.
He wrote on Facebook: “I don’t know if the spoiler window lasts a day, a season or forever? The rules of spoilers are easier to draw offline. Your friend drops a spoiler, you stab him. End of story. On Facebook it’s complicated. Everything is complicated on Facebook. On one hand I sympathize with my friends who cry foul when their friends are spoilers. On the other hand I can’t take it against friends who in the heat of passion post a status on their wall…”
France posted: “I feel for the GoT ‘spoilees’ and their passive aggressive Facebook posts… Gone are the days when the only spoilers we’d encounter are those annoying moviegoers who would spoil the next scene two seconds before it appeared onscreen and even then you could easily throw popcorn at them or elbow their face since they’d be sitting right next to you. I miss those simpler times.”
I feel the same way. I miss those days when the only spoiler in my life was my grandpa, who gave me everything I didn’t even realize I wanted.
Some people did exactly what the spoilers want spoilees to do—stay offline. Jigs said, “I hate spoilers as much as the next person but I’ve learned my lesson. Until I’ve seen the episode, I’m laying off social media.”
Spoilers are a universal thing. And it’s not just TV shows; it’s movies and books, too.
During an event at Barnes and Noble in New York, “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn said: “When I finished writing it, I said great, I’ve written a book that I can’t ever talk about to anyone.”
Even Hollywood stars aren’t immune. Remember how an Access Hollywood reporter spoiled the third season of “Homeland” for Jennifer Lawrence, who said: “I wait for it on DVD because I’m not a patient person. I can’t believe you did that. I don’t even know what to say.”
That red-carpet clip prompted a debate on the “Today” show, when someone on the panel said, “If you really love a show, you should keep up with it.”
“Nooo,” the others chorused.
Carson Daily said: “It takes people time… at their own pace.”
Savannah Guthrie asked an important question: “Are you supposed to keep it a secret forever?”
Matt Lauer joked, “There is a 30-year statute of limitation.”
But what are the rules of spoilers?
Darren Franich’s article on Entertainment Weekly’s website claims that there should be a 24-hour grace period for a classic episode-a-week show, a one-week grace period for the first four episodes of shows that release a full season at once, like “Orange Is the New Black.”
But should we even listen to Entertainment Weekly? A website that, right after the “Game of Thrones” finale was aired, posted a headline and an enormous picture that were definitely spoilers, rendering useless their spoiler alert below (“Warning: This story contains a major spoiler about the ‘Game of Thrones’ season 5 finale”)?
In the sketch, stars of some of TV’s most popular shows talked about the universal problem of spoilers.
“We’re glad you watch our shows and we’re even happier you enjoy talking about them. But in this era of DVR, DVD and the Internet, not everybody’s watching at the same time…We want to stop spoiler fights once and for all. That’s why we’re here—to establish spoiler etiquette,” they said.
And between jokes about knife fights and references to pig Latin, they said some things that made complete sense.
Nelsan Ellis of “True Blood” said, “Spoilers cease being spoilers two weeks after a standard episode, two months after a season finale and one year after a series finale.”
Michael Trucco of “Battlestar Galactica”: “In conversation, if the up-to-date viewers are in the majority, they may ask behind viewers to leave. If the two groups are equal, they must roshambo for dominance.”
Sarah Wayne Callies of “The Walking Dead”: “During the 24 hours after a show airs, AKA the Red Zone, both up-to-date and behind viewers agree to be especially vigilant regarding spoilers.”
Masi Oka of “Heroes”: “Any sentence prefaced with any variation of the following phrase, ‘Okay, so this isn’t really a spoiler…’ will not only be deemed a spoiler, but the person uttering said phrase will not be allowed to speak for the next 45 minutes.”
Nelsan added: “Viewers should seek out information online at their own risk. A spoiler alert is considerate, but should by no means be expected.”
Sarah: “(If) in spite of all these rules, an up-to-date viewer spoils something for you, you may spoil something for them in return. Revenge spoilers shall be limited to the medium of the original spoiler.”
But please don’t spoil the series finale of “Lost” for me. I haven’t seen it yet.