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Spoiler Etiquette for the Digital Age

Just ... don't be a jerk.

baby yoda ior something like it n the mandalorian

Spoilers are a dangerous and tricky business, especially for those of us that write about and cover pop culture. In the age of streaming, when entire seasons of shows drop at once, and of social media when a single viral tweet can bow the twist of a major blockbuster, it’s extremely easy to spoil and be spoiled. So what’s the responsibility of nerds when it comes to spoilers?

Well, we basically need to be responsible for ourselves and courteous to one another, which is much harder than it sounds. We certainly shouldn’t spoil things without warnings or tags, and we shouldn’t spoil things that we wouldn’t want spoiled. The golden rule of spoiling should be like the real one: don’t spoil unto others what you wouldn’t want spoiled unto you.

But it does go beyond that because of course there are people that like to be spoiled and go out of their way to seek spoilers. This is fine – I’m one of those people when it comes to shows I really like. I want to know what going to happen and the speculation is half of the fun for me. And it makes things even more of a surprise when things happen that I’m not spoiled for. I still know I shouldn’t be a jerk when I have spoilers that aren’t in the mainstream conversation yet. Try to follow the basic but elusive rule of the internet of “don’t be a dick.”

Being around spoilers in Star Wars season or Game of Thrones finale time is essentially like walking through an airport at peak flu season. A lot of folks are spreading the thing, but basic human decency should prevail to keep things from going viral. Don’t sneeze in people’s faces and don’t yell “Palpatine wins the Iron Throne!” in a crowded room or on twitter with no tags or warnings.

And those that don’t want to be spoiled have responsibility. Wash your metaphorical hands or wear a metaphorical mask here, people. There are tools on social media to mute mentions of keywords. They work better on Twitter, not so much other places but if you really want to not be spoiled for something you care about and also experience fleeting happiness and freedom: just log off. Trust me, it’s really nice. Or so I’ve heard.

Now, if you do get spoiled here’s the thing: it’s just a movie/TV Show. Very few people are dropping spoilers maliciously and I guarantee that those of us who write about and cover pop culture are not spoiling things to personally hurt you. We may mess up sometimes, all humans do. But we’re trying to keep up with a conversation that’s incredibly fast-paced because that’s our job.

Spoilers are unavoidable in some ways, and if a movie is good, it won’t be ruined by plot points leaking. Still, be courteous, be careful and most importantly: be kind, or we’ll all end up spoiled brats.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.