Last night, after The Good Wife ended, Facebook exploded. Something big had obviously happened, so while catching up on Facebook I was careful not to read anything that looked remotely like it was about the show or had the word “spoiler” in it. So I was pretty gobsmacked to have a major plot point revealed with no warning. In fact, the show’s name wasn’t even mentioned until after the plot point was revealed, so I didn’t even know what I was reading about until it was too late.
It didn’t really matter that much that the who was left out of it. I guess I should be grateful that not everything was given away. But still…not cool.
Did I still enjoy the episode? Of course. It’s a great show. But knowing that something was coming changed the entire episode for me. Instead of just enjoying it I spent the whole hour looking for clues, anticipating…and then I knew what was going to happen a good scene or two before I would have otherwise.
Social media has changed the landscape of TV. I don’t expect people not to discuss things on Facebook just because I haven’t gotten around to watching them yet, but we need some rules.
I’m talking mostly about Facebook here, by the way. It’s just harder to hide things on Twitter (not that you shouldn’t try, but I recognize the limitations).
The Three Day Rule
Respect the fact that not everybody is watching a show at the same time that you are, or even on the same day. They could be in a different time zone, or waiting until the kids go to sleep, or waiting until the next night when their husband is home and awake, or waiting until the next morning when everybody leaves the house and they can fold laundry while watching TV in peace (just me?).
I’m taking it upon myself to say that you have to be considerate of other people’s TV-watching habits for three days. After that, they’re on their own.
Sure, that number is pretty arbitrary, but I feel like that’s more than long enough for anybody who really cares to catch up.
The “SPOILER!!!” Rule
If you want to say anything about the episode you just saw, put “SPOILER!!!” first, so that it can’t be missed. Yes, this is an appropriate time to yell in all caps and overuse exclamation points.
I don’t care how vague or banal you think your post is, you owe it to other people to warn them! They might not want to know anything about what went down, and it isn’t fair to spring it on them while they’re catching up on cute baby pictures.
The Put It In The Comments Rule
You want to discuss what happened right after it happened? That’s fine! But for the love of God, put the details in the comments (and make sure you followed the “SPOILER!!!” rule in the post so that nobody wanders into the comments by mistake!). I see this happen all the time. It totally works. I don’t expect you to keep quiet until I’m all caught up, I just expect you to hide the discussion a teeny bit.
The Live Show Exception
None of this applies to live awards shows, sporting events, etc. That would be ridiculous. In fact, the only reason I watch live shows live at this point is to discuss them on social media as they’re happening.
So there you go. Yell “OMG! I can’t believe that just happened!” from the rooftops if you want. Every episode of a good TV show has some kind of big surprise or reveal, I expect that.
Just follow the rules.