The prevalence of spoilers immediately following cult television shows has spiked, with some shows even encouraging immediate interaction by showing official social media hashtags during premiere broadcasts. It's a natural response, especially when something particularly dramatic happens people turn to others to talk about it.
This is a nightmare for those viewers who are playing catch-up (Like me) or just getting into a hit series for the first time.
No show epitomises the conflict between those up to date and those lagging behind than Game of Thrones.
With its fifth season underway, check out these tips to help you avoid the many spoilers the show has to offer, whether you're just starting out or eagerly waiting each new episode.
Block your Browser
Perhaps the largest obstacle to tackle is that social media is such a natural part of our lives that casual checks during our work day can ruin TV shows that we want to catch up on, simply because you refreshed your news feed.
Thankfully there are a number of browser extensions such as Unspoiler that can be used to block out specific sections of social media and news article with a simple red line. You can set it for multiple shows, and really any kind of media that you want to keep quiet until you find time to catch up on.
Learn spoiler tagging
If you want to stay active on online forums, but still want to keep the latest events a secret, you should definitely brush up on that site's respective spoiler-tagging policy. Some are more liberal, generally tagging things as spoilerific, but other are quite detailed. Game of Thrones reddit feeds have clear rules on tagging episode and season specific news so you can scroll through posts and simply avoid anything you know you haven't reached yet.
You should also remember the individual feeds for different types of fan. r/HBOgameofthrones is only for TV show watchers, r/asoiaf is for dedicated book readers and r/gameofthrones is a mixture of both.
The online community for cult shows is often the most caring, and while they will chat amongst themselves about the latest events and speculate as to what might happen, they know to respect others who are behind or only just starting the show, and often give spoiler-free tips and summaries for those behind to help them enjoy the show more.
Tag your Colleagues
All of these online options won't stop people casually ruining the show in the real world. If you're finding it hard to stay vigilant and still be included in the office chit-chat, you could always try out these anti-spoiler nametags from Viking. They come with episodes listings, meaning you choose the tag closest to your series progress and everyone immediately knows what they can and can't say around you. They also have humorous and vague descriptions to make sure you aren't ruining anything for those further behind than you.
Perfect if you've just started the show and are currently marathoning to catch up.
Follow Spoiler Etiquette
If you and your friends aren't up for tagging each other, you should at least agree to some common ground to confirm what constitutes a spoiler and how much time everyone has to get caught up. In fact, this is integral not just for Game of Thrones, but also any other TV show you enjoy as a group and regularly chat about. To help you remember the rules, stars from some of TV's biggest shows (including massive spoiler-minefields The Wire, True Blood and Dexter) came together with College Humor to set things straight:
Reading the books
(See how long it takes you to read whole series checker URL) Of course, the sure-fire ways of getting ahead of TV spoilers is to not only stay up to date, but actually get ahead of the game by reading the Song of Ice and Fire books. Countless arguments have documented the show's deviations from the books (this current season set to do so more than ever) and each year brings a debate of the grace period for spoilers considering the series started way back in 1996.
Totalling five books (the third and fifth of which split into two volumes due to their immense page count) the Song of Ice and Fire series is a huge time investment, but one many feel is even better experience than the TV show. Personal Creations puts an estimate (based on an average reading speed of 300 words a minute) at 98.33 hours to get through the complete series. Then you're left waiting for The Winds of Winter like the rest of us.
Safe travels. For the night is dark and full of spoilers.