Boundary-Setting and Avoiding Spoilers

a 1970s style portable televisionHave you ever tried staying off your devices and social media to avoid spoilers about a show or an event that you haven’t watched yet? I surprised myself recently in discovering just exactly how difficult that can be.

I wouldn’t consider myself addicted to social media, my phone or my iPad by any stretch of the imagination. I can definitely go a few hours without looking at any of them and not feel the slightest sense of missing out. I do it all the time when I am deeply in the creative zone.

In the years that I have been writing, interruptions have been my kryptonite that have been known to break my flow. That being the case, with so many writing projects in the queue, why would I get in my own way and check my phone between paragraphs? Why would I subject myself to the negative energy of articles that the algorithms have mistakenly assumed that I want to look at? If those aren’t a buzzkill for creativity, I don’t know what is.

This past weekend was the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that I have followed for almost 20 years. Throughout that span of time, I don’t recall its schedule conflicting with North America’s Mother’s Day weekend, but this year it did.

After working in an office for 33 years and witnessing meetings being scheduled, postponed, rescheduled and cancelled, while shuffling the rest of my commitments around these moving targets, I was no stranger to finding solutions to scheduling conundrums.

For those of us in the North American Eastern time zone, Eurovision was to start Saturday at 3:00 p.m., which was just a little before our scheduled departure time to take my mom out to dinner. Because the show usually lasts around 4 hours, I expected the live presentation would be over before we got home.

Thankfully, the show was carried on YouTube, not only live, but also archived for later viewing.

To simply watch it as soon as I got home from dinner would have been a recipe for disaster. Given that I am typically an “early-to-bed, early-to-rise” kind of guy, there was no way I could stay up until midnight to watch it until the end, and still call upon my usual sunny disposition during our brunch plans in the morning with my in-laws.

To watch it first thing in the morning, would have been cutting it too close time-wise. I would have hated to watch most of it only to have my partner announce “Time to go!” before knowing who won.

I decided that as soon as we were home from brunch, THAT would be my time for Eurovision. But I would know the winner’s name 26 hours after the rest of the world knew who won.
Could I avoid all media coverage until then and avoid all spoilers? If I wanted to enjoy the suspense-filled journey and experience that Eurovision can be, I had to try.

If you Google the question, “how many times do people check their phones” different sources offer different responses, but even at the low end, the number is staggering to me. Maybe it’s because my need to create is stronger than my fear of missing out on what’s going on in the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole a few times too many and regretted the time that I wasted.

Either way, the frequency with which I check my phone is lower than the average. But I admit that the impulse is still there.

The first time I noticed that impulse, I was able to squash it pretty easily. Same for the second time and the third time. As time went on, when the impulse got stronger, I kept dangling the carrot of “do you want to be surprised while watching Eurovision?” fairly successfully.

After dinner with my mother, I was going to turn on the TV to regular network programming. I realized that could be a mistake. Eurovision results are big news around the world and any channel could easily play a teaser for the late news, showing a quick clip of the winner saying “Coming up at 11:00, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest!”

The only solution was to watch something on a commercial-free streaming service or something previously recorded on the PVR. We ended up watching the final episode of “Queen Charlotte”, which carried me safely to bed time without spoilers.

Meanwhile, my partner who isn’t nearly as invested in Eurovision as I am, did find out the results and found great pleasure in teasing me with the fact that he knew and I didn’t. I just maintained my position by saying, “Don’t tell me.”

In the morning, I found myself in a negotiation with myself wondering if there was anything I could check online that wouldn’t compromise my goal of avoiding spoilers.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter? Definitely not.

News outlets? No.

Email? Better avoid it, just in case, as someone did email me the outcome of the 2008 show while I was having dinner at a friend’s place.

The only place I thought I was safe was reviewing the obituaries… unless someone passed while watching Eurovision. I stayed off completely and worked on some new blog content instead.

At brunch with the in-laws, there was a lot of wonderful ambient conversation throughout the restaurant. Thankfully, none was related to the Eurovision results.

In the early afternoon, upon our arrival home, I changed into my comfy sweat pants and hoodie, fixed myself a drink and snuggled up on the couch (joined shortly thereafter by the cat) for the Eurovision ceremony. I was beyond thrilled that I was almost at the finish line.

I then realized that there was no way I could look up any information about the contestants, the songs or the lyrics without putting myself in the path of the results. For the last time, I made a commitment to not look at the phone or the iPad until the show was over. The universe must have heard me as at that moment, the cat positioned herself so that I couldn’t move the arm closest to the devices. Thanks Ivy!

Fortunately, when the winner was crowned (I won’t mention the name, in case you haven’t seen it yet) it was the perfect ending to a 4 hour and 15 minute musical marathon of cheers, laughs and tears.

Up until this Eurovision, I hadn’t really placed myself in the position of actively avoiding news or social media, and risk spoiling my personal investment in the stories of the singers and songwriters participating in this special journey.

I now have greater appreciation for how fans of a favourite show or sporting event must feel when schedules require them to be in two places at once yet they still don’t want to miss the anticipation, the execution and the big reveal.

After all, who doesn’t love a good story?… Just don’t tell me the ending!

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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Filed under Humour, music, pop culture, stories, TV

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