I don’t know why I have an Instagram. I’ve never taken a picture with it or posted anything at all, for that matter. I started following a few people, realized I didn’t care, and now I barely go on it. If I do, it’s usually to browse John Boyega or Daisy Ridley’s pages to see if they’ve posted anything new (You know … Star Wars stuff). The other night, I saw something really strange on the search page when I went to type in Boyega’s profile. Right under the search bar, among a slew of “trending tags,” there was a major spoiler from Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, plainly laid out for any unfortunate fan that hadn’t had a chance to see the episode in the hour since it aired.
I haven’t watched the show in years, but I was furious that this spoiler had just sprawled out in front of me. Why in God’s name should the search page on Instagram ruin someone’s evening like that? Someone that regularly browses Instagram shouldn’t be immediately vulnerable to massive spoilers for one of the most watched shows on television without so much as a warning. I know a lot of people would say to me, “You should know the risks you take when you log onto social media,” but honestly, this is unacceptable.
It used to be that you had to go out of your way to spoil a plot-point for yourself. I remember browsing the Wikipedia pages for the Game of Thrones books. To my dismay and idiocy, I came across a description that laid out five major characters’ deaths. Like I said, that was a bold and idiotic move on my part, but obviously I was going to come across a spoiler there. IGN’s reviews for movies, video games, and TV shows very aptly say “spoiler-alert” at the top of the page. If you head down to the comments section, a zoned-off space for people to talk about whatever they want, you’re going forth at your risk of coming across spoilers. If you’re browsing a show’s Reddit page the night an episode airs and you’re trying not to run into spoilers, you’re just an idiot.
But coming across major spoilers on the general search page for Instagram? That’s almost as bad as spoilers being posted to the front page of Google. Such a large quantity of people decided to post a spoiler publicly that it became a “trending tag” almost immediately after the episode ended. What was the point of posting these spoilers? A lot of the posts that I saw weren’t funny. They weren’t trying to be funny. The posts that I saw merely conveyed that the character had died. These people were posting the mere plot-point, not commentary, not something humorous about it. They just wanted to put the information out on the Internet.
It’s not like this is the first time I’ve seen this either. When a certain character on Game of Thrones died at the end of the last season, his or her death appeared under the Facebook trending bar the day after the episode aired. And it’s not that I’m saying that these plot points can’t be discussed publicly. These types of conversations just need to give the show and viewers some time to watch an episode. We don’t all have the time to sit down every Sunday night and watch television. Just because someone does have the time on a particular night to watch a show, it doesn’t mean that person gets the right to publicly post a plot point for something that just happened an hour ago.
This is insane to me. What if, in 1980, when The Empire Strikes Back came out, you walked directly out of the film and screamed to the crowd of people waiting to go in that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father? You would have gotten the crap beaten out of you on the spot. What’s the difference between that and what happened on Sunday night with The Walking Dead? All that’s missing is a physical presence. I was on a public forum. I don’t follow The Walking Dead’s or AMC’s Instagram. No one I follow posted the spoiler. And yet, it was just thrust in front of me like it was this morning’s news. I could’ve been trying to see cute pictures of cats on my way home to watch The Walking Dead and my evening would have been decimated.
This just adds another point to my ever-growing list of problems with social media. A lot of people just blurt out whatever the hell they please without realizing the consequences of their actions. These people didn’t contribute to a substantive conversation about the show. They didn’t share any humorous point about the character’s death. They just (in a really pathetic and cowardly way) shouted out to the world that they had watched that episode of The Walking Dead and that they comprehended the plot. Congratulations, anonymous Instagram users, you can keep up with the rest of us and ruin all the fun for everyone else at the same time. Good on you.
Featured Image By AMC Studios