SPOILER ALERT: It’s Unavoidable in the Age of Social Media

In this age of social media, we are often subjected to information we want, don’t want or don’t want YET. When faced with spoiler alerts, we often decide whether to go ahead and read it or choose not to if it is of some importance that would ruin what we are anticipating.

Last night, I decided to post (and tweet) two “spoiler alerts” on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, about some moments people can expect on Saturday Night Live. As I now live on the East Coast, I have the advantage of seeing it first before my West Coast friends do.

Here’s the following post on Facebook (the Twitter post was similar to this and I did not get any reactions there so I’m not posting that):

Before I go on, notice that I did not go into specifics such as what Big Bird said or did that night nor when he would even come on during the course of the show. The other SNL-related post, which was about the cold open, was the same idea.

I expected some backlash but I was actually met with a universally positive reception — except for one person who, in the unseen comment thread, was upset and threatened to unfriend me if I did not stop posting spoiler alerts. I refused and he followed through with his intentions. He unfollowed me on Twitter as well for the same reason.

Of all the people that I have known that have unfriended me on Facebook and unfollowed me on Twitter for various reasons (or maybe even no reason at all), I find this to be the most baffling and peculiar ever. If he maintains a presence on social media and uses it regularly, why would he take such a petty matter like that so seriously?

(full disclosure: something like this happened just a few weeks prior with the same person but like with what happened last night, I did not get too specific on the details either)

In this age of social media, no matter how much we try to resist it, we are inundated by all sorts of information, whether we want it or don’t want it. From winners of awards shows to the details of the latest blockbuster film to hit the theaters, it is difficult to control the flow of information and how it is worded.

Nobody likes spoiler alerts, especially if it is something we are anticipating, but as users of social media, we have the moral responsibility to forewarn the audience to avoid becoming the detestable figures around. As you saw in that image above, I plainly worded spoiler alert in all caps and was careful not to divulge too much details on what Big Bird said or did during the show.

I expect most people that are exposed to spoiler alerts to react passively but on rare occasions, you might find people like the man I referred to who don’t fully understand how social media works and have that knee-jerk reaction to it.

Spoiler alerts are not anything new. Even before social media (and it still goes on today), television and radio news networks reveal details in real time about an event that is underway before people in subsequent time zones get to watch it themselves due to a little something called “tape delay.” Imagine the dismay of people on the West Coast finding out who won the Emmy award for Best Actor or the winner of American Idol before the show even starts.

If you don’t want others giving away information you don’t want yet, don’t blame me. Blame social media. If you don’t want to know what really happens before you see it for yourself, either not go on social media at all for however long it takes for you stay out of the loop or disconnect yourself altogether.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the Saturday Night Live clip of Big Bird’s appearance on last night’s show.

UPDATE [6:29 p.m. Sunday]: The unnamed person that was the subject of this post personally apologized to me this afternoon, less than 24 hours after the incident occurred, and I accepted his apology. Despite that development, the rest of this post still serves as a valuable lesson on how to adapt to rapidly changing times.