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Spoiler alert: This is a blog post about spoilers.

It goes without saying that this era of social media is unprecedented. When I was in junior high in the mid 90's, only the “cool kids” had cell phones. Now kids are practically born with an iPhone in their hand. The way we communicate has changed permanently, for better or worse, but there is one thing that hasn't changed: you never, never talk about a new movie, video game, or the latest episode of Game of Thrones without spoiler tags. Here's your only warning: this blog will break that rule. There will be spoilers, and they will not be tagged. I know, I'm a hero.

[MOD EDIT: SPOILER WARNING! Mass Effect 2 & Game of Thrones spoilers below. Sorry if this compromises the integrity of your message a bit, but it has to be done to prevent people from filling my inbox with complaints about having something spoiled.]

Wait, don't stop reading yet! I used to be just like you. In 2009, at the height of Mass Effect 2's marketing push, I went to painstaking measures to avoid all of it. I skipped entire Bombcasts. I covered my eyes as I scrolled past thumbnails of trailers. I stopped reading my RSS feeds for two whole months. When I slipped up and found out that Shepard dies, I was fucking pissed. So, was it worth it?

Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. I've probably played through it close to a dozen times, but none was as good the first. I knew that Shepard would die, but I didn't know the circumstances of it. Watching the Normandy get blown to bits was incredible, and I was still shocked when she died right there at the beginning.

From there it was all new. I didn't know the turian vigilante known as Archangel whose ass I had to save on Omega was actually Garrus, and when he pulled off his helmet I screamed with joy. I didn't know that the biotic convict referred to only as Jack would turn out to be a badass half-naked tattoo lady with a foul mouth and a dark past. I treasured these moments, and at the time it felt completely worth it to avoid all those spoilers — but looking back on it now, those “reveals” aren't what I remember most fondly. I don't even consider them. I think about Pragia, learning the truth about Jack's history with Cerberus and helping her move past it. I think about Sidonis, about helping Garrus remember who he really was: a good person who strove to do what was right, not a shameless outlaw who indulged in petty vengeance. The things that would have been “spoiled” for me in advance had I watched the trailers... they don't even rate. So no, I don't think it was worth it.

I'm beginning to turn the corner on spoilers, and so can you. Think about the end of the first season of Game of Thrones when Ned is executed. It's a shocking scene to be sure, and definitely comes as a surprise after the pleas of Cersei and Sansa for Joffrey to show him mercy, but it's not the most interesting part of the show. The interesting part is what happens around that moment: the events that lead to it, and the character development that results from it. That is how it is with all spoilers. If two or three sentences describing a single moment is enough to make what happens around that moment unsatisfying, then none of it is worth your time.

So go, my friends. Cast off your shackles of spoiler tags, and live without regret!