It’s impossible to live on the internet and not have had the "spoiler debate" at some stage, whether you were the spoiler or the spoiled. The nature of the internet renders spoilers nearly impossible to avoid, but it's often what comes after that's worse.
Why does the topic incite raging arguments between friends? Why do people defend the ability to spoil things so furiously?
If you do enjoy spoilers, that’s perfectly fine. If you see a spoiler and it doesn’t affect your viewing, that’s fine too. It’s when spoilers are exposed to non-consenting recipients who are affected that arguments arise and friends are deleted from social media.
Here are the eight most common defenses for posting spoilers — and why they’re complete bullshit.
“It’s A Harmless Joke”
Spoiling something for a reaction isn't a great joke. It’s rude, but worse than that, it’s boring. If revealing spoilers is your idea of a smashing joke, maybe it's time to give up on attempting to be a comedic personality.
“Character X kills character Y on page 420,” he guffawed at my blank stare of disinterest. Are you stuck in 2005? Did you buy one of those spoiler-filled t-shirts thinking it was the height of comedy?
Stick to the jokes that come out of cheap Christmas crackers, you’re more likely to keep friends with those.
"It’s The Nature Of Social Media"
Consider this: It’s also the nature of TV shows to get cancelled before their time. That doesn’t mean you should be happy about it.
Most social media platforms have ways you can filter out spoilers, but anyone considerate will take a spoiler filled discussion off the grid.
"X Amount Of Time Has Passed"
Why wait a certain amount of time before taking away the opportunity for someone to experience something for the first time? It never really made sense to me. Cover your bases and ask permission before you dive into spoiling something.
It’s common courtesy, really.
“It’s Not Even a Real Spoiler”
Fake spoilers have the potential to cause more damage than you would think. If you’ve told someone that Character B dies and then followed up with “I was joking that didn’t happen”, you have already affected (or potentially ruined) their experience.
This person now knows Character B doesn’t die — which is a spoiler in itself. There’s no risk factor — any attempt to create tension around Character B's fate becomes redundant. All the anticipation in the narrative is dead before it begins.
But what is a real spoiler? Even something as simple as “it was the best episode ever” can ruin a show for someone by setting expectations.
Perhaps their idea of “best episode ever” is an hour-long Rob Zombie-esque gorefest? Maybe your idea of a “best episode ever” involves diplomatic maneuvering, intrigue, and a Kevin Spacey monologue.
Your enthusiastic post-episode celebrations may influence other people's expectations. It's not always for the worse but it's not always for the better either. Is the risk worth it? What do you gain?
"There Are Worse Things in Life!"
When did having negative experiences become a competition?
Whenever you hear this defense, recognise it for what it is: A way to derail the argument for the sake of invalidating your (actually completely valid) frustration.
"It’s Just A TV Show/Game/Book/Movie"
First off let me assure you people are aware the book they are reading is, in fact, a book. But just because a fantasy world isn’t real doesn’t you're not emotionally invested in that world. Your experience is real. Your emotional response is real.
There's a reason fiction — whether it's in a book, tv show, movie or game — is so popular.
It’s not just a tv show, it’s not just a book. It’s not just a game or a movie. Spoiling something can often mean ruining what may be a deeply personal experience for someone, for the sake of a few seconds of laughter.
"Your Viewing Will Improve If It’s Spoiled"
Before you even think about using this defense remember: That's not your decision to make.
If someone decides they want to watch something knowing the twist or knowing who dies, that's their choice to make.
People who have been spoiled against their wishes can’t just decide to watch something again for the first time, however. I often wish I could read my favourite books for the first time again, but that’s just not within our technological capabilities. Yet.
"It's Just A Spoiler"
Spoilers are final. You can’t un-tell someone a spoiler.
A spoiler can ruin the hallowed first viewing for someone who hasn't watched the show or film in question — and that's something you can NEVER get back. You're ripping that beautiful experience from them without asking.
Think about it. You don’t need to spoil things for everyone. What do you gain from it?
If you’re one of those people who “just can’t help it!”, try to see the movie with your friends or co-ordinate a day to watch the new episode together. Control your urges.
In short: don’t be a dick.
TV is a cutthroat business - whether it's cable, streaming or free-to-air. In 2017 and 2018, a bunch of beloved shows will be bidding adieu to their dwindling fan bases to make room for the next hopeful hit. Here are all the shows that you care about whose days are sadly numbered. Marco Polo, we hardly knew ye. *Sniff*