Those who believe courtesy is a dying art in America might want to consider the “no spoilers” and “spoiler alert” phenomenon. The basic idea is that if you know of something really dramatic that is going to happen in a show, you don’t tell your friends what it will be, and you don’t reveal it on the Internet, at least without a “spoiler alert” warning before the beans get spilled.
My 7-year-old granddaughter demonstrated this higher consciousness the other day when I took her to see the new Disney film, Frozen. She had read the book and was all excited for me to see one particular scene, but she was careful to not spoil the surprise for me. I contrast that with my teen-age self babbling out every scene of Goldfinger to my highly amused parents, thus making it redundant for them to ever see the film. This is a clear case of politeness progressing from one generation to another.
Fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels demonstrated spoiler prevention big-time earlier this year when they held off en masse from revealing what was going to happen in an infamous chapter of the Game of Thrones television series based on the books. The books’ author, George R. R. Martin, even praised the fans publicly for their good behavior in this (spoiler alert!) article.
Of course, not everyone is agog about total spoiler prevention, but I do think the trend is generally a mark of civility in a world where information otherwise flies around faster than people can always master their access to it. And, BTW, if you are an egghead, the library even has a scholarly discussion of spoilers in regard to the TV show Lost that you can find in Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts by Jonathan Gray right here at the Main Library. I won’t tell you how it ends.