‘Spoilers’ never used to be a problem, did they?

“What are these ‘spoilers’ you talk of?”, I hear you cry (well, some of you). A ‘spoiler’ is that thing when someone spills the beans on what happened in a film or TV show you haven’t seen yet, therefore ‘spoiling’ your enjoyment of the media in question, by revealing the plot or ruining the end.

Admittedly, this has always been the case with films, as cinemas obviously can’t hold everybody at the same time to provide a communal screening, but I can’t recall if previous generations had a name for it. However, that was in the days before multi-screen cinemas and the average town would have only one or two film theatres, which would only have a film doing a nationwide run for a week or so. The chances are most people would see a newly released film in that week, so it wasn’t long before the movie could become a legitimate conversation piece.

The advent of television changed things a bit. Once these appliances became readily available and ubiquitous in the living room, workplace chat could centre around what we watched last night and most likely the majority of us had seen the same thing. An instant way to find some common ground and conversation with acquaintances. In that time, repeats were few and far between and if you had missed a programme, it was generally accepted that you’d have to make do with your friends regaling you of what went on and you’d have to put up with missing the programme, putting it down to bad luck, vowing to never miss an episode again.

Video recorders were invented and suddenly it didn’t matter so much if you missed something, as long as:

  • You could work the damn thing. Early video recorders were notoriously difficult to understand. Especially for a generation of luddites being slowly introduced to electronic gagetry.
  • You didn’t mind that Emmerdale Farm had been recorded over your episode of “The Tube” as it was “The first tape that came to hand.”.
  • You actually got round to watching it at all. Most households having only one television at that time meant you had to wait until it was your turn to watch what you wanted. Which usually meant staying up till one in the morning.

Fast forward thirty years or so and enter ‘on demand’ viewing. Now you didn’t need to miss the programmes you liked, you could record them on a digital console, or watch them online on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet device or streaming console plugged into your television.

Couple with that the phenomenon we know now as Social Networking. What began as a few nerdy geeks, teenagers or bands on sites such as MySpace and Bebo turned into a global tsunami with Facebook and Twitter. Now the majority of people spent some time on social networking sites and it has fast become the canteen for conversation in modern day society.