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Heidi Shaffer, Published June 07 2012

Shaffer: Instant gratification not worth ruining it for everyone

Remember the days of standing around the water cooler Tuesday mornings, talking about the latest episode of M*A*S*H, careful not to spoil it for co-workers who missed whatever Hot Lips had to say last night?

No? Yeah, me neither. The series finale is older than I am.

But it seems yet another annoying aspect of Facebook is now ruining our American television-watching experience.

For “Mad Men” fans out there, you’ll likely agree that this week’s episode was one of the more memorable in the show’s five seasons.

And for those fans out there who were waiting to watch the newest episode on DVR because you were out enjoying the fantastic weekend weather, someone likely spoiled the bombshell ending with poorly thought-out and spoiler-filled Facebook comments.

“OMG. Can you believe so-and-so did what-the-what on ‘Mad Men’?”

This isn’t another I-don’t-care-what-you-had-for-dinner, I-don’t-want-to-hear-about-your-kid, don’t-tell-me-about-your-illness rant about social media. This is about ruining quality entertainment for the rest of us.

Most of the time, I suspect people just like to be the first to report something. As a journalist, I totally get that.

But it isn’t just personal Facebook pages and tweets ruining the fun. Within minutes of the credits rolling, websites like Gawker and The Huffington Post were throwing updates and blog posts up about the episode.

The outlets generally precluded the spoiling with a spoiler alert, but what instant-gratification TV watcher can stop from reading on when a story broadcasts, “‘MAD MEN’ SHOCKER. TELL US WHAT YOU THINK.”

And maybe that’s the problem. We’re all programmed for immediacy. Wait? Never! We have to read about it now. We must talk about it now. We must hash and rehash now.

My husband and I had decided to watch the episode later in the week, but once I saw what my “friends” on Facebook were squawking about, I had to see it for myself.

So at 12:30 a.m., we rolled back out of bed and headed to the couch to watch the hourlong episode. I wanted to be part of the shocker. I wanted to come to work the next day and hit up my “Mad Men”-watching colleagues for a little gossip.

I approached each desk with a spoiler-proof preface: “Did you watch ‘Mad Men’ last night?” As it turned out, no one had.

It drove me a little bonkers not to be able to immediately discuss the show. But I lived – I survived to talk about it with them a few days later once everyone had caught up.

Along with the ability to immediately broadcast your every thought, Facebook also has fan pages for almost any TV show, whether it’s still on the air or long canceled.

Those fan pages are the appropriate outlet for discussing and analyzing what Mary meant when she looked at Matthew on tonight’s episode of “Downton Abbey.” Want to dish about that one scene in “Prometheus” when Michael Fassenbender does that one thing? Have at it on the fan page.

So Sunday night, after the “Mad Men” season finale airs, find someone who a) already knows what happened b) cares about what happened and c) wants to talk about what happened before you start sorting out what mess Don Draper has to dig himself out of next season.

Because if you post a spoiler on Facebook, I will bore you with all my culinary decisions until the next Venus transit.

Readers can reach Forum features editor Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511

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