Even casual conversation can turn deadly if a fated release is brought up too soon after the information has been out to the public. This following example will sound familiar to many in today’s modern age of media.
(Avengers: Infinity War minor spoilers ahead!)
You’re scrolling through your Instagram explore page, only half-paying attention, while waiting for a response in a group chat. You and your friends are planning to go see Avengers: Infinity Wars later today, and you’re been scheduling for weeks for the chance to gather in a theater with popcorn drowning in fake butter and watch it together. Suddenly, a picture of Spiderman, played by Tom Holland, piques your interest, so you pause. You know it’s dangerous, looking at this post, but you can’t stop.
This video begins to play before your innocent eyes. Helplessly enraptured, you watch. “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good,” Peter Parker says. You try to scroll away, but it’s too late. The video clip of the movie’s final minutes spoils the entire ending of a movie you’d been looking forward to seeing for over a year in a matter of seconds.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a spoiler as “information about the plot of a motion picture or TV program that can spoil a viewer's sense of surprise or suspense; also: a person who discloses such information.”
We should take a moment to appreciate the communal love of stories that leads to posting about them on social media. Thanks to our amazing interconnected networking, spoilers run rampant, yet, spoilers happen because fans want to share the heartbreak and humor they found in a story. With different backgrounds, we all view the same narrative and create differing theories that spread like wildfire.
Avid fans try to be more tactful, and many give “spoiler alerts” before unveiling vital story information. Once you know all of the secrets, you have the power to spoil others too. Prior to seeing the broadway show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts one and two, pins are passed out that say #keepthesecrets to remind fans that everybody deserves to enjoy something for the first time. All fans deserve a surprise ending (if that’s what they want). This brings about an interesting point: it can be frustrating to know what happened and not be able to talk about it. That’s where social media comes in-- there are people out there who understand your pain, and you can appreciate their posts and talk about those spoilery endings while waiting for your friends to catch up.
The best way to avoid spoilers is simply to consume the material as quickly as humanly possible. And when that’s not an option, the only think you can really do is try to avoid all accounts and conversations that focus on the topic of the new book, movie, or comic that was freshly released until you can read it.
You might get spoiled anyway, by social media or an overly enthusiastic friend who let that major death slip in casual conversation. It’s frustrating when you’re spoiled, especially if the spoiler was of something you were excited about. When spoilers do happen, take it with a grain of salt; you don’t know if that person’s correct until you see for yourself, after all.
A spoiler doesn’t ruin your ability to enjoy a good story. Spoilers usually only unveil one aspect of the story. Even if your favorite character dies, the kingdom falls, or that couple finally gets together, you know nothing about the journey leading up to those climactic moments. Stories are so much more than one plot point: they are everything leading up to and following each pivotal scene.