Here's a sobering thought for people who don't like Game Of Thrones: We're only halfway through season 7. Over the coming weeks, the online memes, social media chatter and water cooler nattering is only going to get worse. If your co-workers wouldn't shut up about that mopey man-bun guy finally meeting the lady with dragons, wait until they inevitably kiss. (It is known.)
Fortunately, there are remedies at hand. But first, let me tell you about a boy* and his experience with mainstream fandom.
I have a confession to make: I’ve been kind of a jerk in the past, especially when it comes to mocking sports. Football in particular. The idea of several sweaty grown men in tight shorts wrestling each other over a pigskin so one of them can throw it between two poles… well I just don’t get it.
Like with most jerks, the mockery habit can be traced back to being left out of intense conversations at parties which I couldn’t participate in, because they were about sports. If somebody turned on the TV to catch the last moments of that night’s game, I’d walk past and yell “go the winners!” and think it hilarious.
If I passed a couple of mates arguing insider rugby, I’d nod at them in mock seriousness, patiently waiting for them to drop a player’s name, then derail the conversation by asking if they thought Josh Reynolds could take on a Balrog if the fate of Middle Earth was at stake.
On occasion I thought my disdain for football was justified. I live a stone’s throw from a major leagues club, and on State of Origin night, my kids just won’t go to sleep due to the revelling. I would take selfies of my dishevelled self in track pants, cradling a crying infant, and furiously threaten to “unfriend” anyone who clogged my Facebook feed with endless updates about the score because goddamn it, I just couldn’t take the abuse.
But here’s the thing: despite my failure to understand it, people still enjoy sports. They enjoy getting together at the local club, painting their faces in team colours, and in general singing and carrying on like a pack of jackals while they blow off steam and not think about work or kids or chores for an evening. And I know through experience that no end of mocking the Sportsers on twitter will change anybody’s mind. If anything, they just dig their heels in and block me for being a whiny jerk.
I am a fan of other things, though. One is Game of Thrones. In spite of a glut of media to consume, it’s the show that trumps all others when it airs. It doesn’t matter if it takes 15 minutes or three hours to get the kids settled, because the moment they are, we brew some tea, crack out the good chocolate and stream the latest episode. With subtitles.
I’ve recently discovered around close friends, Game of Thrones is a viable alternative to sports as a topic for debate and discussion. Not only face-to-face, but all over social media.
Who are you betting will win the Iron Throne? Do you think Jon Snow and Daenerys will get it on even though she’s probably his auntie? Is Jaime a good guy now? Will he end up killing Cersei? Is Melisandre good or bad – oh wait, she burnt that little girl but then she brought Jon Snow back to life but she’s like 1000 years old without that necklace and gave birth to a fart demon that killed that hot Baratheon brother WHAT EXACTLY IS SHE!?
… and so on and so forth.
And yet there’s a growing group of people who don’t like Game of Thrones. What's more, they’re getting really vocal about it, as if it’s suddenly edgy to roll their eyes at us when we begin to discuss the show. They like to claim we’re just obsessed with grumpkins and snarks and tits, and this is somehow “childish”.
Every tweet and Facebook post on my social feeds from all these bold GoTheists make me instinctively think they’re jerks, and I ache to reply to every put-down of my favourite show and argue with every hater that sullies my social feeds: If you don’t watch it, what do you care if us fans want to talk about it non-stop all the time and share trailers and clips and web comics and articles about how awesome Game of Thrones is for the ten-or-so weeks that it’s airing? Why can’t you let people like stuff?!
But the echoes of my sports-mockery resonate with their shallow jabs, and I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. So I will no longer mock the Sportsers for all their ball-tossing obsessions, their States of Originals, or even for that Bowl they think is so Super, because I too have obsessions, and I – like them - want to share the love with other fans.
Tolerating fandoms that are not your own can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. We were never going to stop people celebrating Grand Final night, so we got all our windows double-glazed to block out the noise. We order take-out well before game time, then hole ourselves up with a good Netflix queue, and wait for the storm outside to subside.
It can be a different matter entirely to avoid certain fandoms when online, but it’s not impossible. For instance, you can see Game of Thrones season coming a mile away whether you like it or not: articles about Australia setting new records for pirating the TV show are a big hint, for instance, and every news blog out there begins to share fan theories, or yells at George R.R. Martin to hurry the fuck up and finish the books already. It’s arrival is as certain as the coming winter, and it may not be convenient to unfollow, unfriend or block every contact who you might suspect is a GoT fan just to avoid getting triggered.
So if you’re a Game of Thrones hater, here are some tips to avoid, or at the very least par back the avalanche of mentions that are currently in your feeds:
Twitter is the most notorious platform for unwanted mentions. You can mute certain word, phrases and hashtags via the Twitter app on your phone.
If you’re on an iPhone, go to Settings > Muted words and then enter the list of phrases you wish to mute. If you’re on an Android device, go to Settings, then Privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted words.
Here are some words to get you started:
- Jon Snow
- Daenerys Targaryen
- Sansa Stark
- Arya Stark
- Ed Sheeran
- Cersei Lannister
- White Walkers
- The Wall
- Winter is Coming
- Bran Stark
Here are some of the more popular hashtags:
Facebook is a little trickier. You can’t mute words or phrases via your phone app, and as of this writing, I’m unaware of any good hacks for muting GoT talk via your phone, so for the next few weeks, only access Facebook via a browser on your desktop and read on…
Last year, some clever boffin came up with a neat extension for the Chrome browser specifically to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers. You can also use it to mute any GoT talk anywhere you care to browse. You can download it here.
If you're using any other browser, you can install the free Social Fixer extension, but you'll have to enter the key words you wish to block manually.
And lastly, you could always unfollow your more obsessed friends until this season is over (hint: the last episode airs August 27) then later decide whether you want to continue a friendship with such a chronic Game of Thrones fan come September.
If you’re a mega GoT fan (like me):
If you just can’t contain the love, try and practice a little netiquette and make it easy for your unenlightened mates to see you coming. Add obvious hashtags such as #GoT or #GameofThrones, or mentioning Game of Thrones in the title. If they’ve followed the advice above, they’ll still get all your charming memes, but will be blissfully unaware of your GoT posts.
Hopefully now everyone can enjoy all the things without making it super annoying for anyone else.
* That was a Syrio Forel reference. Told you I was a fan.