You're having an average day browsing the Internet, where you spend most of your time. You aimlessly scroll through memes, self-indulgent photos with equally self-indulgent captions, more memes, etc. This is seemingly another one of the countless days where you waste your time on the Internet but then… you see it. Your eyes widen with horror, your lungs automatically initiate a dramatically sharp intake of breath, your soul goes through the 7 stages of grief in the fraction of a second. Yes, you have stumbled upon a spoiler.
Everyone has a mutual hatred for spoilers, but what causes it? The majority of the population who have looked forward to something with hot-blooded anticipation have experienced, at least once, the happiness drain out of them when they encounter someone trying to poorly entertain themselves by spoiling the story for others. The core of the resentment may stem from the fact that spoilers are always happening beyond our control, or lack thereof. It's not like our decision to pore over the Wikipedia article of a show, book, or movie to find out what happens. Rather it's akin to taking a football to the face during a game, which will hinder your joy while playing the sport again in the future.
Given the onset of the Internet, spoiler culture is definitely on the rise. The incredibly hyped up Avengers: Infinity War came out about two weeks ago and people have already been subjected to unsolicited details about the plot. Even the determined souls who went so far as to deactivate their social media accounts have not been able to escape the contagion, as the human mind will overcome all obstacles and somehow manage to send spoilers via text messages, emails, carrier pigeons, cave paintings, and so on. But the question still looms: why do people spoil things in the first place?
One possible reason could be the feeling of exclusivity some people may get when they get the first taste of a coveted movie or book. A sense of power overcomes the person and the feeling of schadenfreude that comes from the fact that they could potentially ruin the pure, untainted experience of another consumer with just a few words clouds their sense of netiquette. People feel like they're part of an elite group when they are the first ones to watch or read something that everyone is eagerly waiting for, which ultimately ends up as a pseudo-power complex.
Among the many theories of the origins of spoilers, a popular one states that spoilers are merely a marketing tactic. Think about it: as an example, movie makers want as much profit as possible during the opening day/week and what better way to achieve that than to cripple you with the fear of finding out who dies and who doesn't? You'll be fighting your way through a mountain of sweaty beasts who have fire in their eyes and determination oozing from their pores, all because you want the sweet, sweet satisfaction of getting tickets, watching the movie, and feeling like you're in on a precious secret. This results in a win-win situation where you have the higher ground in terms of yielding the spoiler gun and the movies make a ton of money.
However, a question rising in the back of the head would be: are spoilers really that bad? Before the defensiveness and anger kicks in, give it a thought. Sometimes knowing all the juicy details of a movie or book can be beneficial. The person already knows what will happen, which enables them to notice the nuanced foreshadowing and clues that they wouldn't really pay heed to under normal circumstances. Additionally, knowing what will happen eventually gives the viewer or reader something to look forward to and still allows room for tension to cumulate during the scenes leading up to the peak of the story, as the narrative will still retain its engaging element. Spoilers will basically condense the plot and make it easier for the consumer to digest.
All in all, spoilers have always been prominent in history, whether that's regarding the endings of ancient stories passed on from generation to generation or knowing who's going to get the axe next in the latest episode of a TV show. The activity of spoiling is not going to diminish any time soon so we can do our best to adapt by keeping a positive outlook. This can be achieved through focusing on the other aspects of the storyline and appreciating them rather than disregarding everything else that happens because of someone's sadistic amusements. If that doesn't work, we can always cut ourselves off from the rest of humanity and hide in a cave until we can finally indulge in what we've been waiting for.
One of these ways is bound to work out, statistically speaking.