Spoiler Alert: Digital Media is Changing How We Watch T.V.

There’s nothing worse than logging onto Facebook only to find ten status updates explaining how your favorite character from Breaking Bad died; when you’re just one episode away from finding that out for yourself.  Thanks to social media, the way we watch T.V. has significantly changed- some would argue for the worse. Due to the chance of your favorite shows being ruined by opinionated Twitter users, the use of “Spoiler Etiquette” is greatly appreciated by many.


These days, T.V. shows and movies are extremely accessible. Online outlets like Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go can now be accessed via phone, or tablet.  People stream their shows at their own pace, and no longer have to wait a week to catch the latest episode. How much time do you have to wait to talk about the show without violating the proper spoiler etiquette? Some argue that once the show has officially aired, it’s fair game, and people should view social media at their own discretion.  Others say that waiting a week or so after the initial airing is the proper amount of time to wait.  Is there really a right answer? Even popular shows like Portlandia make fun of the absurd “spoiler alert” culture.

While there isn’t an exact right or wrong answer for how long it’s appropriate to wait to post about a show, there are some basic guidelines people can follow that seem reasonable enough.  For shows that are currently releasing a new episode each week, it’s safe to wait a full 24 hours until you post about a crazy scene on Facebook.

For shows that are released a whole season at a time (like Netflix’s House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, etc.), waiting about a week to post about them is the politest thing to do. People tend to watch these shows at a faster pace since the episodes are all released at once.  Binge-watching has become quite common, and shows made for Netflix are actually written to compliment this type of viewing.

A huge trend on television right now is basing shows on comic books, and book series. Comic book inspired shows like The Walking Dead allow fans to know what’s going to transpire ahead of time (although the show does tend to stray from the comic book ). It’s pretty reasonable to assume posting about major characters’ deaths before they air is just rude, and one should try their hardest to refrain from doing so.


T.V. shows aren’t the only entertainment that gets spoiled these days.  Movies are also spoiled for many because people just can’t wait to post about them. The recent release of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens produced some of the biggest hype in movie history.  The second the movie was released, people were talking about it on Facebook, Twitter, and countless entertainment websites.  To avoid ruining a huge film like this, it’s fair to post “Spoiler Alert” at the beginning of a post or article that talks about anything past the first half of the film.  This way, readers can continue reading at their own discretion.

In a culture where we expect instant gratification, and for things to go just how we want them to, it’s easy to understand why spoilers make so many people upset.  A safe rule of thumb is to refrain as much as you can from posting about spoilers about any shows or movies.  Before posting about the crazy ending of the latest Game of Thrones episode that aired the night before, think about how you would feel if you came across the revealing post before you watched it for yourself.  And if you are one of those people that gets easily perturbed by spoilers, don’t read about shows you’re watching until you’re actually done watching them!  While social media and digital entertainment are supposed to make life easier, they sure do pose a lot of problems.  Welcome to the digital age, everyone.