Put your friends On Notice™. Ms. Lamere’s kudos for her inventive Twitter hack are well-earned. But where are the accolades (and funding, as long as we’re talking about it) for my ingenious but as yet unavailable On Notice™ app? Here’s how it works: when you decide you’re going to go see an upcoming movie, you use the in-app Web browser to go to IMDb and “flag” the title. On Notice™ then sends an automated email to all of your contacts, warning them that you’re planning to see that movie and it should thus not be discussed with you, either in person, via email, or on social media, until they receive notification otherwise. Then, once you get around to seeing said movie — be it over opening weekend, later in release, on Netflix, during a Sunday afternoon TNT airing, whatever — you remove the title’s IMDB “flag” and a follow-up email is sent to your contacts, informing them that you have now seen the film in question, and it may be discussed freely in your tangible or virtual presence. The process is similar with the shows you’re watching on a weekly basis: the warning email is sent out after every new episode airs, and you can then clear your On Notice™ queue once you finally get a goddamn Sunday free to catch up on Scandal, for Chrissakes. But wait, you might think, wouldn’t this unending stream of firmly worded emails alienate friends, family, and colleagues? Perhaps. But isn’t that a small price to pay for watching what you want at your pace?
Buy a good set of noise-canceling headphones. As effective as On Notice™ would be (once it’s funded — please email me for PayPal information), its reach is unfortunately limited to people you know personally (for now). What about the people you encounter on the street, in elevators, on the subway, and in restaurants? How are they to know what you’re watching and not watching, and adjust their conversations accordingly? Unfortunately, they can’t (for now). So get yourself a good set of noise-canceling headphones, allowing you to block out any and all possibly spoiler-filled chatter around you and retreat further into your own head. And good news: the On Notice™ app also includes an unlimited stream of white noise, so that in your hours spent listening to things on your phone instead of other human beings, you don’t accidentally listen to a podcast that spoils something you haven’t yet watched. But what if I can’t wear headphones at work, you might ask? Well, here’s where we have to get into some tough love.
Quit your job. Even if you email them, even if you issue uncomfortably loud SPOILER WARNINGs from your desk/wait station/grill/operating table/judge’s chambers, the people you work with can’t be relied upon to refrain from discussion of last night’s Mad Men. So it might be time to really think about how committed you are to avoiding spoilers, and choose to work from home. Not all jobs will let you do so, so this may mean walking away from your work and tightening that belt for a bit. But don’t worry: the unmonitored comments sections of non-entertainment websites say there are all kinds of lucrative work-from-home possibilities out there. And with all that free time, you can work through some of those shows you haven’t made it to yet. That box set of The Shield isn’t gonna watch itself
Move away from well-populated areas. Now that you’re working from home, you will find that, like it or not, you still have to leave it for a few basic necessities, like food and medicine and toilet paper. It’s in moments like this that living in a metropolitan area can get really troublesome — even if you’ve got on your noise-canceling headphones, those split seconds before you put them in, interactions with retail clerks, conversations with your doctor, etc. can bleed into a discussion about who died on this week’s Downton Abbey in a flash. Maybe it’s time to consider that cabin in the woods you’ve always wanted to live in, far from all of these other people and their unsolicited information about popular culture?
Have no conversations, interact with no one, read nothing, just watch your TV and movies in solitude. No, really, it can be done. You can get the Internet out there. Think about it. Sure, you’ll get some Unabomber jokes. But he was a pretty sensible guy, it sounds like — you see, after hearing all those jokes, I picked up a book about him. Fascinating stuff! Not sure how it turns out, though. Don’t spoil it for me!