It is no secret that the internet is filled with spoilers. As an avid user of a dozens different social media applications I have often been innocently scrolling through news feeds, only to see something I did not want to see.
But are spoilers always a bad thing?
And when is something NOT a spoiler? If I post a quote from a book that my friend hasn’t read yet…is that a spoiler? The answer will probably vary depending on your definition of a spoiler.
UrbanDictionary.com says a spoiler is when:
When someone reveals a previously unknown aspect of something which you likely would have rather learned on your own.
This is a very loose definition. If I told someone that the ending to a movie will ‘make them want to cry’ then under this definition what I have told them could be classed as a spoiler if they didn’t want to know that information.
Then IMBD.com has this definition:
A spoiler is usually defined as a remark or piece of information which reveals important plot elements (for example the ending or a major plot twist), thus ‘spoiling’ a surprise and robbing the viewer of the suspense and enjoyment of the film.
This definition is a little more refined and suggests that a spoiler usually relates to MAJOR plot points and twists in a story.
This suggests that whether something is a spoiler or not largely depends on the person and their relationship with the text that is being spoiled. And this certainly was the consensus when I asked a few of my Instagram followers how they felt about spoilers and when they thought something was a spoiler.
One user said how they felt about spoilers depended on what was being spoiled and how invested they were in the material. However, they also said that sometimes spoilers excited them -and made them want to consume the material more in order to know how events unfolded in the story.
Another user said she thought there was a limit-as in if something were an older text they wouldn’t be to annoyed as ‘these things happen.’
So, how do we know when we are spoiling something for someone else and does it matter?
The short answer is: we don’t. And often most of the spoilers I have come across on the internet have been put up innocently.
However, there seems to be a PUSH urging people not to spoil material-as if it is the be all and end all. I can’t count the amount of times someone has said ‘no spoilers please’ on their posts on Instagram. Most people use appropriate netiquette by posting ‘spoiler alert’ when they think it is needed. Whilst all this is gracious and fin-and SHOULD happen will the story truly be ruined because of a spoiler?
The answer, shock! horror!-is no.
In fact a study by the University of California found that people often enjoy stories considerably more after they have been spoiled! The findings suggest this is because the anticipation of the plot twist often takes away from the overall enjoyment of the story. The study argues this is also why people often enjoy a movie, or a book much more the second time around (this says something for re-reading).
This suggests that we should calm down about being so vigilant of spoilers and instead enjoy the story for what it is-and what makes it enjoyable-which certainly isn’t just the thrill of a well placed plot twist.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Do you HATE spoilers? When is something a spoiler and when is it not?