NOTE: There are NO spoilers of the TV shows, movies or games mentioned below. That would be dicky.
Is it actually possible to avoid TV, movie and game spoilers on social media, short of abandoning them altogether? We’ve generated a culture that doesn’t consume media at the same time anymore, not that it was ever possible with games, yet one that seems compelled to yell about what they’ve seen to all their friends, acquaintances and random Internet dwellers immediately.
Monday’s Mad Men finale was especially bad. It aired in the US during Australian business hours, which meant a scary afternoon avoiding spoilers. Yet, heaps of link-bait headlines spoiled the highlight of the episode on Twitter and Facebook.
Less than an hour after it aired in the US, one especially floggy site tweeted the final moments with a link, and later posted about how we should stop spoiling things on social media.
It’s bad enough that apparently respected websites spoil content that’s only just aired – it hadn’t for a global audience, and that’s how we consume media now – but I can’t understand why people retweet other people’s spoilers. So you’re excited that some random American has a theory you agree with; don’t retweet his epic spoiler. Even if it’s not a spoiler, if it’s a joke or a parody based on the episode, don’t retweet it. I don’t know it’s not legitimate, or it’ll be obvious enough that I’ll figure out where the episode is heading.
Worst of all is official social media accounts ruining everything. The Facebook page of Psych spoiled key plot points minutes after new episodes aired in the US last year. That’s not what I wanted to wake up to, and is now why I don’t follow any official accounts of TV shows or studios. One has ruined it for all of them. None are to be trusted.
In many ways it’s even worse for games. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out yesterday. If you aren’t already playing, something will be spoiled for you; and even if you are playing, there will always be (probably unemployed) gamers way ahead of you.
It’s easy to warn of spoilers in forums, but with games it doesn’t just extend to story – which may be spoiled anyway. There are gameplay elements you might not want to know about, like awesome bosses or character transformations, that are immediately plastered all over social media thanks to the magic of PlayStation and Xbox Share. There’s a spoiler button right there on the controller. But that can’t be helped, because it’s impossible to have a distinction as to what gameplay is considered a spoiler. Some don’t want to see a boss or a funny outfit they haven’t experienced, while others think nothing of it. I hope that generic field screen above hasn’t spoiled a special moment.
Story is another matter. Most people are courteous with games renowned for their story, like The Last of Us or Life is Strange but less so for those that aren’t. Even if a massive secret remains under wraps during the launch period, how do you avoid it when not playing the game for a few weeks, or waiting even longer?
If something crazy happens to a main character in Batman Arkham Knight next month, but you can’t play until September, don’t expect to avoid it unless you cut off social media and gaming sites. At $100 a pop, it’s hardly a stretch to consider most people can’t afford every game of interest as soon as they come out.
Movies are the least spoiled content. Apparently, Mad Max is the greatest action movie of all-time, according to my social media feeds (that was also the consensus for Fast & Furious 7 which I also haven’t seen). There’s no way it can live up to the hype now, and characters are ruined to a degree, but at least nobody has tweeted the ending. Trailers are proving nearly impossible to avoid, now that Facebook has embraced auto-play. I’ve embarked upon an ambitious Star Wars: The Force Awakens media blackout, but every time there’s a new trailer, I unwittingly see, or hear, a few seconds.
The simple solution would be to use social media less, and stay away altogether around season finales. But that doesn’t work for games, and it’s so ingrained in my commute routine, I have to actively remember to avoid the Internet on my phone…including any website. News Corp is one of the worst offenders for sensationalising a headline with a massive spoiler. It’s not just social media and enthusiast games or entertainment websites that are out; even mainstream news outlets based in Australian capital cities spoil things in headlines, often before they’re available in Australia. Rupert must encourage piracy if it translates to page views.