Spoiler alert! This column may contain crucial plot information from my next column. Don’t keep reading if you don’t want to know what happens in two weeks.

This is your last chance.

OK. To those courageous men and women among you who braved the spoiler warning, congratulations, there aren’t actually going to be spoilers after all — mainly because even I don’t know what I’m going to write about in two weeks time. But aren’t you glad to have been warned? To those of you who cling to this column’s every word (Hi, Mom), aren’t you glad that next week hasn’t been ruined for you?

Spoilers (information about the plot of something not yet released) are becoming a real problem — nay, a plague — for the busy TV viewer. They have infested the Internet, private conversations, news publications and even television itself. And like any plague, the only way to avoid spoilers is complete solitary confinement.

As someone who principally watches plot-driven shows — “Lost” and “Heroes” especially — and reality competitions (I loves me some “So You Think You Can Dance”), it’s very important to me not to know what’s coming next. But, sadly, my life cannot be spent entirely in front of the television, and sometimes I have to wait a day or more before I watch the latest episode of one of my shows. That will be happening for this entire season of “Lost,” for instance. I need to be at the Daily on Wednesday nights putting out The B-side for you all to read the next morning while you talk about what happened to Locke and Sawyer on the island.

When I miss a show like “Lost,” I have no choice but to become a hermit crab until I get a chance to watch the new episode, emerging from my shell only to order food or use the bathroom. And even those things sometimes have to get put on hold (thank God for empty Mountain Dew bottles).

Like real hermit crabs, I also can’t log on to Facebook, because people might have changed their statuses to relevant things like “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE (important plot-related thing) HAPPENED ON THAT SHOW!!!!” I can’t go to any site with news; even Yahoo and CNN run stories ranging from pure plot information to actor profiles that might indicate whether an actor has left a show — which usually means they got killed-off. If nothing else, these sites always say who got voted off of “American Idol.” And I can’t even use AIM, just in case someone sends me an excited but overly informative instant message, meaning well but not realizing my ignorance.

But more importantly, I can’t even watch TV. Bravo is always running ads for “Top Chef” and “Project Runway,” which I rarely have the time to watch when they actually air. So when I see a commercial for the next episode, it gives away who was or wasn’t eliminated in the episode I missed.

For shows like “Lost” and “Heroes,” the spoilers can be a matter of life and death (for the characters, if not me). If an expendable character is on the brink of death at the end of an episode, but I miss the one that follows, I’ll inevitably find out whether that person died in the ads for the next episode. This completely ruins the suspense of the episode I have yet to watch, turning me off to the series as a whole.

What has made this such an epidemic is the fact that most people are not as kind as I was at the beginning of this column. Internet blogs and Facebook users rarely provide spoiler warnings. Commercials for TV shows always show clips from the upcoming episode before viewers have a chance to realize what show is being advertised and avert their gaze. Admittedly, when people talk about a TV event that has already happened, it might not technically be a spoiler, but it’s close enough that it pisses me off.

If any of you think I’m overreacting, may I bring you back in time to when a certain tale of witchcraft and wizardry was just releasing its sixth installment? (SPOILER ALERT) Perchance you remember a certain old wizard who met a certain demise. Perhaps you were one of the unlucky few to be the victim of a “Dumbledore dies” flyer, Internet site, T-shirt, e-mail, Facebook status or overheard conversation. Imagine having to avoid something that sinister and ubiquitous on a weekly basis. That is the torment of the TV fan who also happens to have a real life (however nerdy that life may be).

Well, that brings this episode to a close. On the next “TV/New Media Column,” did Jamie escape from the pit of snakes and dismantle the bomb? Yes, he did, because you can clearly see him alive in one of the clips in the commercial. Dammit.

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