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Twitter plot spoilers should focus on the show, not ruin the outcome for others

DID you meet The Walshes last week? I did. About 24 hours after everyone else.

By then, I knew exactly what to expect. Twitter does that. The new sitcom, co-written and directed by Graham Linehan of Father Ted fame, premiered last Thursday on RTE One, and if my Twitter timeline was anything to go by, it looks like everyone watched it with their phones in their hands.

What's more, some eejit actually tweeted Linehan to tell him they didn't like it. While it was still on the telly. Linehan responded by calling said viewer a "moron" and requested that they give the show their full attention. Fair play.

UNREACHABLE

Just what is the fascination of tweeting while watching? Is it really that difficult for viewers to concentrate on one form of media without simultaneously browsing another?

Lately, I've been counting down the days until the next episode of US crime drama True Detective hits our screens. To hell with Netflix – the excitement that comes with waiting a week to find out what happens next is something that no amount of binge-watching will ever match.

For 75 minutes a week, I am unreachable. But I had a thought recently. What if I took out my phone during the show to tweet a 140-character review? Or posted something deep and meaningful about Matthew McConaughey's performance?

I'll tell you what would happen – I'd miss out on an important line, or another clue as to where it's all headed. Worse still, I'd only spoil things for others. So why do people bother? I'll never understand how viewers can pull themselves away from a show to discuss it online before the credits roll. Are they not concerned about missing a vital scene?

Maybe they've pressed the pause button, but it's as though they're afraid that if they wait until the programme is over to share their precious thoughts, no one will reply to their post.

Everyone's a critic? Nonsense. Everyone just thinks they are. The same way everyone reckons they're a professional commentator each time a major sporting event comes around (seriously, stay away from Twitter next Saturday evening).

These online loiterers are almost as bad as the spoilsports in the crowd – the dimwits who post messages along the lines of 'I can't believe he's dead! #lovehate'. Remember last year's Love/Hate opening, and the response it received on social media? I was working at the time and, on my way home on the train, I had a browse on Twitter. There it was – the whole bloody storyline, right at my fingertips. Something about fizzy orange, poor Tommy and a dead cat. Cheers, folks.

I've heard there are apps you can download to help filter those infuriating spoilers.

How about those responsible for the spoilers just cop themselves on instead? It doesn't matter what show we're dealing with – viewers who arrive late to the game are finding it increasingly difficult to side-step crucial plot developments online.

DISAPPOINTING

Think of it this way – you wouldn't sit with your phone in your hand at the cinema, would you? Wait ... scratch that. It's disappointing, the amount of people I've seen checking in while at the cinema. Thankfully, someone usually loses the rag (usually it's the person seated next to them). And the handset holder deserves everything they get.

So, to an extent, I applaud Linehan's approach to criticism. I don't like The Walshes. It tries desperately to connect the dots between The Royle Family and Mrs Brown's Boys, and ends up falling short. But at least I gave it my full attention.


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