Staying Unspoiled In The Age Of Social Media

With the slow death of "appointment television" comes an increasing tendency for spoilers to pop up in unexpected places. Writer Sean T. Collins discusses fans' and critics' attempts to preserve the suspense.

What's the Latest Development?

Now that season 3 of the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones" is underway, writer Sean T. Collins describes how the time-shifting nature of today's television watching and the mercurial flow of social media is affecting the story experience for fans and critics alike. One fan site, Tower of the Hand, has an automated feature that hides information depending on how many of the five novels in A Song of Ice and Fire (the book series on which the show is based) the user claims to have read. Another fan site, Winter is Coming, focuses only on the TV series, treating anything that hasn't aired as a spoiler.

What's the Big Idea?

For people who write about television shows for a living, the ongoing online chatter makes their jobs even harder. Approaches range from Huffington Post critic Maureen Ryan's "first do no harm" to ThinkProgress blogger Alyssa Rosenberg's "I don't care at all." Ryan says that it can be tiresome to "always protect everyone’s experience all the time. I’ve been yelled at for writing or tweeting about certain developments three days after the show in question aired." Ultimately, says Collins, viewers should exercise common sense in the fight to stay unspoiled: "[I]n the words of Walter Sobchak, life does not start and stop at your convenience."

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