Spoiler Alert Etiquette For Facebook and Social Networks

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Monday, April 28th, 2014, 5:17am
Categories: Mouth Diarrhea

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This silly post brought to you, by me being up at 5am again

Most of us have a few TV shows we love to watch every week. If you're on facebook or another social networking site, spoilers can sometimes be a big problem. People can be robbed of some of the enjoyment in their favorite story lines and resentment can breed fast.

I'm going to propose a quick set of guidelines in the hopes of saving a few friendships. Feel free to share this page with someone who may need to brush up on their spoiler etiquette!

ALWAYS Be Vague!

The first and most best thing you can possibly do for the sake of your friends, while still being able to express yourself, is to be vague. If a main character gets shot in the head, don't make a post that says "Oh no! Bobby got shot in the head!" ... that's just cruel. Instead, take each important part of that sentence, and blur it out with a mental smudger before writing it down.

Imagine the following plot development, being spoiled less and less with each modification:
  • Oh no! Bobby got shot in the head! (Spoiler - you suck)
  • Oh no! He got shot in the head! (Remove name)
  • Oh no! Someone got shot in the head! (Remove gender)
  • Oh no! They got shot in the head! (Remove plural/singular giveaway)
  • Oh no! They got shot! (Remove fatality indication)
  • Oh no! They really shouldn't have been there (Remove almost all major giveaways - You rock)

Wait As Long As You Can

Some people can't wait even a few minutes after the show airs before spoilering. Go wipe the froth off your mouth and go stand in the corner.

Others rationalize that waiting a day or two before spoilering is long enough. I don't think it is. Some people are legitimately unable to watch a show until often weeks after the original air date. You can also still talk with your other friends about the show privately without broadcasting a spoiler to everyone.

From what I've observed, it seems like most people who wait more than 2 weeks to watch a new episode of their favorite show, don't get as upset when they're spoilered, so I think a good safe amount of time to wait might be "2 episodes or 2 weeks, whichever is more". After that point, the amount of people you'll affect is probably pretty low. Wait longer if you can control yourself, but 2 weeks is a fair amount of courtesy.

Formatting Your Post

When posting a spoiler, you obviously don't want to just write the giveaway at the beginning of your post:
Gary: Bobby got shot in the head! (Spoiler)
Mike: You dickbag!

But sometimes people think they're being kind by writing something like the following:
Gary: Spoiler!
Oh no! Bobby got shot in the head!

Mike: Nice try, jerk...

This well intentioned style of post still gives the plot away though. It's important to note that a person's eyes can easily wander off to surrounding text before our brain is finished processing the data in the first part. I've definitely had a few accidents where my brain read a post like "Bobby got shot in the OH FUCK, THEY SAID SPOILER".

The trick is to use some symbols to better grab someone's attention first, and then make many many blank lines between the word spoiler and the actual spoiler, so it's physically harder for someone to accidentally read your post in the wrong order. If you're including a show title, its preferable to include the word spoiler at the beginning, so they have more time to process it. Here's an example:

Lord Bobby got an arrow in the head! And he's a raping bitch!

The amount of blank lines you need to post may vary depending on what particular social network you're on. For my blogs, I try to make at least a few inches-on-the-monitor in blank lines. For facebook posts I think you only need 4 or so before the rest gets covered up by that "see more" link.

Blank Lines on Your Phone App

A friend just alerted me to the fact that when she tried to make several blank lines for one of her spoilers, her phone's facebook app actually erased all of them but one, turning her post into something like:
Spoiler Alert!

Oh crap Bobbyyyyyyyyyy noooooo

If this happens to you, you can use a trick: Make "period lines", or basically blank lines that start with a period, like this:

***** SPOILER ALERT *****
Damn it Bobby, that's what you get for messing with them hookers!


You may be thinking at this point, that this is way too much effort. Well, perhaps. But if you really feel that way, I have a better idea: Don't fucking spoiler in the first place. I mean, you're already wasting time and effort writing the post, or being on a social network at all. You could be walking your dog or doing batman style pushups right now for christ's sake.

It all comes down to a simple rationalization: Do you think your desire to talk about something is more important than someone else's desire to not have their show spoiled? I think not. I mean really, especially when you consider there are ways to get spoilers off your chest that won't damage the fun others have, as I outlined above.

And one final note. If you disagree with me, I have only one thing to say to you:

I Will See You In Hell

~Mike Peralta

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Mike Peralta is an independent musician and you should follow him on Twitter (@MikePeralta) and Instagram (@MikePeraltaMusic), then subscribe to his blog just a bit below this text!
Current avatar photo by Heinz von Bockelmann (CC by 2.0, modified by Mike Peralta)

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