For the last week or so anytime I’ve gone online, I have had a bad feeling. Actually it started about two weeks ago; someone I follow on Twitter, someone I had no reason to believe was even interested in Star Wars posted a theory about the new film. And the thing is, pretty much since the film was announced, I’ve been working really hard not to know anything about it. I haven’t chased any of the clickbait headlines, haven’t watched any of the trailers except the three main ones—seriously, I know almost nothing.
Or I did, until there it was in my feed, quite an interesting theory, suddenly shaping my expectations.
Then a friend who saw that I was posting daily Star Wars trivia on my Facebook page sent me a bit of information he had heard about the new film. And again, I had to say, NOT COOL BRO. I have my own theories (based mostly on an excessive amount of time spent rewatching the old films), but that’s as far as I go.
I want to be surprised; is that too much to ask?
But you know, maybe it is. Maybe in the hypersaturated, deeply interconnected world in which many of us live, the idea that everyone would respect one another’s desires to not have Star Wars spoiled for them is an absurd expectation. If that’s what you want, maybe the only true recourse is to stay offline.
(And also, let’s be honest, stay away from television and newspapers. Because TV news or entertainment columnists are at least as likely to spoil something as widely anticipated as Star Wars as a fifteen year old troll. And yes, somewhere Edward R. Murrow is weeping.)
But—and maybe it’s because I’m old in internet years—I can’t help but wonder whether there’s not some sort of shared etiquette or ethics that we should be able to call upon for things like Star Wars (or even your favorite TV show). Really, does anyone—and I mean anyone—really believe that there would be nothing wrong with going to see Star Wars in the next few days and then posting key plot points?
I don’t think so. What’s more likely, I’d say, is that upon seeing the film, we might want to share our enthusiasm and/or total frustration. (Please JJ, I come to thee on bended knee, please do not let "The Force Awakens" be a source of total frustration.) And we’ve come to see social media as the platform through which we make that bigger connection. I send my thoughts out into the ether of Twitter or Facebook or whatever, and in so doing, I... engage in the bigger conversation going on? Make my opinion known? Feel like I’ve been heard or have a voice of my own? Maybe all of the above?
And—as is so often the case with sin (yep, that’s right, I just called spoilers a sin)—when I do this, even if with no ill intention, I’m nonetheless positioned in such a way that I don’t have to see the consequences of my actions, either. I don’t have to watch as others who follow my feed suddenly find the surprise they’ve been anticipating for months or even years more or less ruined. I don’t have to experience how my choices made others feel or how I hurt them. Really it’s up to me to choose to actually think about my possible impact upon others or not.
All of which is a long way of saying this: we’ve just started the Year of Mercy. And I feel pretty confident spoiling Star Wars is not exactly what the pope had in mind, but still, could you just have a little mercy on me? Because my tickets are for Saturday night, and if REDACTED is REDACTED by REDACTED or REDACTED really is REDACTED to REDACTED I really don’t want to know until I get to see it for myself.
Seriously: this week we all have a choice—whether to think about others just a little bit, or not to care and probably cause some pain. Sith or Jedi: it's all about the small choices. So as a wise prophet once said, choose wisely.
(Also: if you decide to ignore my request, can I just say, I am blocking the REDACTED out of you, you REDACTED REDACTED.)