This blog is taken from a column I write for the local paper that will be published today.
Okay, I’m fully aware that the vast majority of the folks who read these weekly epistles are above the age of …. Well, above the age of you-know-what. I don’t want to embarrass you here. And with the knowledge that the majority of the folks who read these columns are above that age, I’m also aware that many of you don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on when the TV commentator, anchor person, or personality, says, “Spoiler alert.”
Let me, if you will, bring you into the Twenty-first century. This century is an age of instant communication. Everyone in the world can communicate with every other person in the world immediately through the miracle of the Smartphone. Do you have one? If not, get one. Your grandchild can show you how to use it. Now with that Smartphone you can instantly let everyone know whatever you want the world to know. For instance, you could immediately alert all the family via your smartphone. “I’m at Cousin Jennifer’s house. She’s preparing the family reunion dinner. Don’t eat the dressing!!”
You see, that’s a spoiler. You’ve spoiled the surprise of all the family members, after having consumed Cousin Jennifer’s dressing, having to make recurrent visits to the necessary room. That’s a spoiler. It’s a warning of what is to come.
There have been times in my life when I could have used a spoiler. I could have used a spoiler when I was preparing to ask Linda Simpson to the Junior-Senior Dance. Someone, you would have thought, would have presented me with a spoiler that proclaimed to me what Linda Simpson thought of me. A spoiler alert in that particular case would have reduced my sense of consternation when Linda Simpson, having heard me ask, “Would you go to the Junior-Senior Dance with me?”, gazed at me for a moment and then started giggling.
I could have used a spoiler alert when, in my sophomore years in college, I pursued Ellen Goodrich. If we’d had smartphones back then, I would hope one of my friends would have tweeted me, “Do you have any appreciation for the initials GLBT?”
Spoiler Alerts can be useful. Spoiler alerts can also be unappreciated, considered intrusive, in bad taste, and just counter productive. Here’s a case in point.
A couple of weeks ago, on the HBO TV series “Game of Thornes”, the evil, immoral, self-centered, totally egotistical king Joffery Baratheon was poisoned. He died. No one mourned his dying. He was the north end of a south bound horse. But no one saw it coming. No one, that is, but the folks on the West Coast. You see, the people on the East Coast, having seen the episode before the folks on the West Coast started going on Twitter and Facebook and alerting the world that King Joffery had been poisoned. What a bummer for the people in a later time zone
Kathy Griffin, the television stand-up comic, once said we shouldn’t talk about people’s shortcomings to their face. We should talk about the shortcomings behind their back. She concluded, “It’s manners.” It’s just manners to not send out a spoiler alert to folks who might be waiting for the discovery.
Spoiler Alerts. Gracious. We certainly could live without them. But, Spoiler Alerts are not a part of our culture. So, in that spirit here it is:
Spoiler Alert. My sermon this Sunday will be a lot better than the one at First Church.