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Game of Thrones

For the Game of Thrones finale, think before you tweet

Online snarkiness is part of the fun of a cultural phenomenon like GoT, but let’s take a step back.

Right after an episode of Game of Thrones finishes, what do I do? Do I text my friends? No. Do I think about it and move on? No. I go to Twitter to see all the rushed reactions and spicy memes.

Unlike any other show, Game of Thrones has morphed into the ultimate North American pop culture nucleus. But it wasn’t always quite like this. Remember when videos came out during the first few seasons recorded by book fans capturing the shocked expressions of their friends? Instead now you find footage peering down at crowded bars drunkenly jeering and gasping.

At the time of writing this (after the penultimate episode 5 “The Bells”) Twitter says #GameofThrones is trending at over 751K Tweets. That’s insane.

But with that wealth of reactions come some not-so-great ones. Nitpicking and overreacting become the norm. And that’s what I’d like to explore today: the pros and cons of Game of Thrones in the Twitter era.

Pros

Having Twitter around has it benefits (believe it or not). I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t enjoy slurping up reactions. Twitter puts normies and celebrities on relatively the same wavelength, so you can see what your celeb crushes are saying about the same episode you’re watching at the same time. And as previously mentioned…you get some great memes.

On a more serious note, you can bolster your own opinions by seeing some clever takes, and expose yourself to diverse opinions you might never have considered.

Cons

Pile-Ons

That being said…do we really need to nitpick these episodes to the extent we do? For instance, let’s look at the episode 4 fiasco involving a Starbucks cup of all things. Countless tweets about how shocked people were over such a tiny mishap.

I’m not saying you can’t rag on a show’s mistakes, but we end up getting into “pile-ons” on Twitter. I personally didn’t notice the mistake, but when I saw people pointing the Starbucks cup out, I didn’t retweet or chime in because it didn’t concern me. But I highly doubt that every person tweeting/retweeting about a Starbucks cup actually saw it the first time around.

A funny little goof gets blown out of proportions because if one person tweets, their followers tweet, and then the followers tweet to their followers and it goes on and on and on. All over a small mistake.

I guarantee that you can find mistakes in previous seasons of Game of Thrones. But hey, you wouldn’t really know about them as much because Twitter wasn’t the cultural watering hole it is now.

Pettiness

This segues into my next point revolving around the petty nature of tweetstorms. Obviously, obsessing over a goof to the point where the actress in front of the cup has to respond is a sign you’re taking a menial detail and pettily blowing it up.

But more frustratingly is the way Twitter reactions can give credence to unnecessarily petty barbs. What started out as a fun observation about a blooper got turned into a pointed attack at the showrunners. Many tweets ended up as: “Look! The showrunners have given up! They don’t care anymore!”

I haven’t loved all of season 8, like most people. But to say the showrunners don’t care is harsh to say the least. I can’t imagine having to be Benioff and Weiss, being handed the reins to the biggest fantasy property since Lord of the Rings, having to end it, sinking all of HBO’s money into it, only to have thousands of people heckle you.

Making fun of a show or criticizing creators isn’t inherently bad. Heck, it’s sort of my job on this website. But we should always be respectful before putting up an opinion, making sure not to attack the creators on a personal note. However, with Twitter, because you don’t have to write a whole article that gets edited and takes hours, you can send off a hasty judgement in seconds. Hey, people are retweeting it! People agree with me! I’m justified!

Do I sound like an old grump? Like I said, Twitter isn’t inherently evil and rushed reactions can lead to hilarious moments. But when you gather millions of people together in one of the world’s largest forums over one topic…you’re gonna get petty, unintellectual reactions that we’re all in danger of committing.

Knee-Jerk Outrage

If a character does something shocking, no matter how much it’s set up, it’s tweeting material. Then every action is analyzed to see if it’s some kind of racial/sexual slur.

Missandei dying makes narrative sense. She’s one of Dany’s only remaining loyal servants. Her relationship with Grey Worm screamed out that she was in danger. But when she’s executed, there was a torrent of people saying it’s a racist move.

If you’re upset that a black character has been killed, maybe concern yourself instead with the fact that there are so few to begin with. Besides, GoT kills off everybody — male, female, black, white, gay, straight, and other. That’s kind of its thing.

Am I saying we should ignore people trying to call out racism/sexism on Twitter? Heavens, no. Twitter is a nightmare about that. But I’m talking about rash media reactions, especially in regards to GoT. To accuse a show or showrunners of racism requires a level of discretion and thought. Alas, we don’t get that from tweets minutes after Missandei dies.

In Conclusion

It’s important to stress: Tweeting in general and tweeting about GoT isn’t inherently bad. But before you send off a hasty thought or like/retweet, think about what message you’re sending. Are you joining a pile-on? Supporting a petty attitude? Or perhaps letting emotions take over?

All we need to do is be more discerning in what we watch and react. Like advertising. Buying products because of ads isn’t terrible, but if you know what tactics are being used against you to empty your wallet, you can make more informed decisions. Likewise, let’s think twice before we gather before the almighty white bird and tear the season finale a new one.

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