The year 2019 promises to be a peak-geek year. April has seen the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, as well as the rollout of era-ending Avengers: Endgame (although Kevin Feige is on record saying that the actual plot wrap-up happens in the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home). The ultimate season of The Big Bang Theory is also on the horizon, and December wraps up the geek calendar with The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding chapter of the Star Wars sequels.
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Amidst all of these seismic events, opinions will be posted as Facebook updates, selfies in front of theater standees will be uploaded on Instagram, Twitter will be buzzing with unsolicited exit interviews. Already, my social media feeds are awash with threats to end friendships, unfollow, block, curse firstborns. And so, in the interest of maintaining harmony in the cybersphere, here are a few handy rules on spoilers and social media etiquette in general:
1. When posting an opinion, a grade-one reaction paper is the safest way to go.
“I loved it!” “Ang ganda-ganda niya!” “I want to take this movie behind the track-and-field comfort rooms and make out with it!” State your opinion clearly…and then leave it at that. Don’t engage in a deep-dive dissection. In short, post an opinion but be lazy enough not to give a reason for the opinion—the way a first-grader would do it.
2. Humor is always appreciated, but tread lightly.
Humor is a scalpel; it is a fine instrument, and only qualified practitioners should wield it. When you post stuff like “Is it a spoiler to say that Thanos loses?” pat yourself on the back for being clever (because—really—how could villains win in movies like this?), but also recognize that you are skating on thin ice.
Humorists on my feed have also followed up with Facebook posts like “The Titanic sinks in the end!”, “Bruce Willis is actually dead!”, and “Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are actually the same person!” It’s a great way to puncture this prevailing mania about maintaining secrecy while also not puncturing the secret. Which leads me to the next rule…
3. Maybe wait a little?
Notice a commonality in the smart-alecky posts I cited as examples? All three spoilers come from movies that were released in the ‘90s. Time heals all wounds, and it also takes the sting out of spoilers. I’m not saying you should wait two decades before exploring your love for Endgame, but if you’re a natural dissector—and most critics are—perhaps wait a little longer than the first weekend to indulge your fetish? There is no hard-and-fast rule on the statute of limitations, but be prudent and always assume that not everybody has as wide-open a schedule as you, who saw the latest Game of Thrones episode at the same time it got broadcast in the U.S.
4. Don’t act as if you’re above it all.
When my editor asked me for a review of Game of Thrones’ premiere episode, I matter-of-factly had to tell him that I was a “Never-Throner”—someone who had never seen a single episode of GoT. Being a Never-Throner means that I’ve gotten my fair share of startled reactions over the years, ranging from the high-pitched “Really?” to looks that made me feel as if I were an extraterrestrial life form. So I understand the defensive posture of behaving as if all this fan adulation were somehow beneath me.
I am here to tell you: Do not take that default stance. Respect the fandom, no matter how kooky it can get. Do not make the false equivalence of saying, “I don’t care about Endgame, I’m much more interested in how the Chinese are encroaching in our territory”, because both concerns can exist in the same world without canceling each other out. And if you do make that false equivalency, never, under any circumstances, take a picture of your ticket stub and then post it. That just makes you a hypocrite and a cuck.
5. Do not make undue demands.
If you read social media posts the way stockbrokers read the Financial Times, don’t dampen other people’s excitement by demanding that they go above and beyond the mandated “SPOILER ALERT!” warning, and write an additional 100 words warning you that a spoiler is coming. A longer sentence saying that “A spoiler-heavy review is coming, so be forewarned” is all the concession you should expect. Always remember: Blocking you is easier than writing a hundred-word essay telling you to skip the next hundred words.
6. Always err on the side of caution.
If you can wait a week, wait a week-and-a-half. If you’re not sure a joke will land, don’t make it at all. Caution is the key word here. If it’s good enough not to piss off your girlfriend, it’s good enough for social media.