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Spoiler Alert: Let's Talk About Spoiler Etiquette

(Or is it too soon?)

When my husband and I went to see The Sixth Sense in the theater, we were warned that we should expect A GAME-CHANGING TWIST! While I sat down with my bag of popcorn bigger than my face and wondered why the young Mischa Barton needed to vomit so much in the movie, my husband had been thinking about the game-changing twist. And around the time that Mischa Barton was vomiting, he turned to me and said this:

“Bruce Willis is dead.”

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And, of course, if you have seen this movie, you know that he was right. Bruce Willis was, in fact, one of the dead people that pre-puffy-faced Haley Joel Osment saw.

And, of course, if you haven’t seen the Sixth Sense, (SURPRISE! SPOILER ALERT!) you are about sixteen years late to the party. Friends, this happened sixteen years ago and I’m worried that someone, somewhere is going to be upset that I just spoiled the movie for him. 

This past Sunday night, AMC aired the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. As this show is apt to do, the finale went out with a bang (see what I did there?), with a bullet straight to the head of one of the show’s most beloved characters.

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It was unexpected; in fact, I’m still sort of reeling and trying to come to terms with it.

On Sunday night, I was at home in my jammies at about 9pm, but started watching the show about an hour late due to the preteens and teens who live in my house and their inability to not just tell me one more thing. Thankfully, I tend to stay away from social media while I am watching a television show, especially when I start it late, so as not to accidentally come across any spoilers in my timeline.

But, merely minutes after AMC aired Sunday night’s episode on the east coast, they put a photo up on the show's official Facebook page that included the face of the person who died and a lovely little RIP with her name written after. The show had just ended. It hadn’t even aired on the west coast yet. And it was already spoiled.

Fans were outraged. Outraged.

To the point that they had to issue an apology. It reads: We heard your feedback to last night’s post, and we’re sorry. With zero negative intent, we jumped the gun and put up a spoiler. Please know we’re going to work to ensure that, in the future, possible spoilers by official AMC social feeds are killed before they can infect, certainly before the West Coast (U.S.) broadcast of The Walking Dead. As always, thank you for watching, and keep the comments coming. We appreciate all of your support. ‪#‎RIPSpoiler

Now, if I'm being honest, had I seen that, I probably would have been pretty annoyed. I may have even aggressively tweeted about how uncool it was. In fact, last night while I was watching the penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy  — the second-to-last episode ever — an hour late, since, again, teenagers, I saw a cryptic spoiler using characters from Hamlet instead of from the actual show and I was completely spoiled. I pressed play on my PVR and waited for the spoiled moments to happen, annoyed. 

Was it my fault for checking Facebook quickly when I paused the show and went to fill up my tea? Of course!

But, I have to ask, is there some sort of etiquette here? What are the rules of spoiling? Are there any?

What about when it comes to live shows, like awards shows or sports games? What about old shows? I often talk about characters from, say, The Wire, which aired its last episode over 5 years ago. But what if my friends haven’t seen it yet? What about starting your status with “spoiler alert” — is that enough? Do the rules change when it’s a major spoiler — such as a birth or death or tragedy? What about reality TV shows? 

With technology at all of our fingertips, are spoilers just unavoidable?

I didn’t post The Walking Dead Facebook spoiler photo of the dead main character in this article out of fear that you would all pounce on me, point fingers, and yell SPOILER! We all have busy lives, filled with children and jobs and commitments and events and more children. Not everyone gets to watch their shows on time. In fact, I have a friend who records and watches his team's football game (many) hours after the fact. I wonder how many games stay unspoiled for him.

I mean, It’s days later and I still don’t know if I’m allowed to say her name. MAY SHE REST IN PEACE.