03/26/2014 01:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

To Spoil or Not to Spoil: Who Needs to Take Responsibility for Spoilers?

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Caution, this post will contain spoilers!

Spoilers.  They're a hot topic when it comes to our favorite television shows.  What constitutes a spoiler?  Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?  Who's responsible for the spoiler?  There are so many questions about spoilers, but what is reasonable?   We've all seen those people post in their Facebook or Twitter feed: "I haven't watched yet so please NO SPOILERS" right at that exact moment you're dying to talk about that big, huge development on your favorite show!  And while we all need to be respectful of those who haven't had the chance to watch yet, maybe they need to be the one to avoid social media if they truly want to avoid their show being spoiled.  Asking your friends to avoid talking about their favorite television shows because you haven't had the chance to watch yet seems a bit entitled to me.  

Social media exists so that we can all jaw-drop at the same time when something incredible happens on one of our favorite television shows and it makes the viewing experience so much better.  Remember the 'Red Wedding' scene during last season's Game of Thrones and how awesome it was because of social media?  When we could all take to Twitter at the exact same time to say 'WTF?!?!' Or how about anxiously awaiting to see how True Detective will end and needing to talk to everyone about it, and not just those people in your living room?!  Social media has brought the viewing audience together allowing us to share our thoughts and feelings about our favorite shows, so while we need to be respectful of those who can't watch in real time, those who can't watch also need to avoid situations where there might be spoilers.

In a perfect world every post or tweet about a television program would be labelled *Spoiler Alert* before being published, but we all know that doesn't always happen. So if you're online during your favorite show's season finale, there's a good chance that you're going to see something that you don't want to see, making it best to avoid social media until you watch for yourself.

While we should all be respectful of others and label our spoilers in the first week or so after a television show airs, there has to be a statute of limitations.  I was involved in a Facebook chat where the parties involved were discussing a particular blog post about Downton Abbey.  In this blog post, the author spoke about a character who was killed off in a previous season.  One of the commenters was livid that this piece of information didn't come with a *Spoiler Alert* because they are currently watching on Netflix and haven't reached that point yet. Are we really expected to place spoiler alerts on plot twists that are more than one season old? If you're only on season 2 of a show that is currently filming its fifth season you need to realize the chance that you might encounter spoilers.  Watch at your own risk.

I might be in the minority here but spoilers have never really bothered me.  In fact I have been known to read everything I can about a favorite show even if I haven't had the opportunity to watch the most current episode.  I love knowing what other people think about how a show is progressing and about the character development and if there's a major plot twist like a main character getting killed off on a season-ending cliffhanger. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the genuine surprise and shock that I experience when watching a really great episode (again, I will point to the 'Red Wedding' episode) but if I had known about that beforehand (like the millions of people that have read the book) I don't think it would have diminished my enjoyment of that scene. If a show is well written with great characters and great actors, spoilers really don't spoil anything.

At the end of the day I think we all have to use a bit of common courtesy when it comes to spoilers by using *Spoiler Alert* and clearly labeling online conversations as such. After all, no one needs to be the asshole that posts in all caps on their Facebook page *Good Wife Spoiler Ahead* 'OMG THEY KILLED WILL GARDNER' the second after the scene airs. But if you're really against any and all type of spoilers, it might be easier to turn off the social media. At least for a day or two.