I solemnly swear I will not spoil anything important in this column.
Spoilers: they’re the forbidden fruit of modern media. If you’re behind even a single installation in any serialized story, you run the risk of being exposed to spoilers, details about the plot that you really shouldn’t know yet. No one is immune to spoilers, unless you have a burning hatred for stories with continuity, and at some point in your life you’re guaranteed to be behind on some story you’re following.
Spoilers can be the bane of a fan’s existence — I can’t risk talking to anybody about Supernatural because I’m only on the fourth season, and I usually have to stay off Twitter on Tuesday and Wednesday nights because my favourite TV shows’ Twitter pages all live-tweet the episodes when I can’t watch them. As you can probably tell, my life is very hard.
Spoilers are a First World problem, but they’re a pain in the ass nonetheless. Finding out about major plot points way before they happen can ruin your experience with a story — the tension and suspense is gone when you know exactly what’s going to happen.
Obviously, the damage a spoiler can do depends on the story and its significance — if I told someone about a predictable spoiler like Penny and Leonard from Big Bang Theory eventually getting together, it wouldn’t matter quite as much as a Game of Thrones spoiler about who’s going to die next (especially since that series completely disregards the idea of plot armour. Damn you, George R.R. Martin!).
Fortunately, most people are considerate of spoilers. Most of the time, if you tell someone you don’t want spoilers or stick your fingers in your ears and start screaming, they’ll respect your wishes and keep quiet, and online it’s just proper etiquette to include a spoiler warning before you mention any recent spoilers (which means if you haven’t been doing so, you’re a bad person and you really should feel bad).
The two main dangers to spoiler security are the 10 per cent of people too careless or malevolent to filter their spoilers, and of course the dreaded self-spoiling. The bad news is that you can’t really stop the spoiler violators — once they spoil something for you, it can never be un-spoiled, and you have to live with the consequences. Fortunately, you can always call them a dick, and most civilized people will agree with you. On the bright side, at least this sort of awful human being is pretty rare.
Far more destructive is self-spoiling. Depending on what kind of person you are, you might end up spoiling the story yourself. Be it through carelessly reading through Internet posts with clearly defined spoiler warnings or intentionally spoiling plot details because you didn’t have the patience to find out naturally, your spoiler virginity is taken and you’ll never be the same again.
Admittedly, this is my biggest vice, especially for Game of Thrones. I’m terrible with cliffhangers and tension, and there are answers to all of my questions online — I’ve been to the Song of Ice and Fire wikis far too many times because I couldn’t stop wondering “Oh my gosh, is this going to be OK?” Do I regret it? Absolutely. Among other important plot points, I ruined the Red Wedding episode for myself months in advance because I couldn’t stop reading about the characters online, and I felt empty inside when I finally saw it for real. I’ve tried compensating by avoiding every detail of Game of Thrones’ fourth season until the episodes start, but even that’s too little too late.
In my weakest moments of misguided hatred at TV show wikis, I’ve often cursed at the people who posted the spoilers in the first place, but that’s not fair. For those that are caught up in the story, spoilers aren’t spoilers — they’re crazy, awesome, or crazy awesome plot points that they want to talk about with others, because if you keep it in, you’re liable to explode. It’s a show of willpower to be able to hold in spoilers at all, when really all you want to do is freak out about it along with your fellow fanboys and girls. Spoilers can be a complicated issue for both sides of a fanbase, but as long as everyone tries to be considerate, we’ll all get along just fine.
Also Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze.