Spoilers, Spoilers Everywhere! Free Speech vs Fangirl Angst.

SPOILERS
The internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s also hazardous. As you navigate your way around several social networks in a day you are faced with what seems like infinite information, and within it, lurking around corners you’d least expect, are book spoilers.

There have been several times over the past few years where I have been utterly spoiled beyond the realms of forgiveness, and have been left in seething rages unquenched by even chocolate or cute kitten pictures.

First there was the ending of Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent series, which was spoiled for me in a Youtube comment right under the Divergent movie trailer. I was so shocked that I walked around for days trying to purposefully bury the information into the unconscious depths of my brain and convince myself I’d never seen it… which, of course, didn’t work, because the harder you try to forget something the more you remember it.

Then there was the time Game ofIMG_6731 Thrones character deaths were spoiled for me in a big way due to the TV show trending on Twitter and people posting memes about it on Facebook.

There’s also been occasions where I’ve been spoiled by reviewers who haven’t put spoiler warnings and have come right out and discussed exactly how a book ended. You could argue that this one is my fault, as some people don’t read reviews of books they haven’t read yet, but I’m not like that! I think the POINT of a review is to help someone decide whether they want to pick a book up, therefore you shouldn’t spoil it – or if you want to discuss it that’s fine as long as there’s a spoiler warning.

I’ve even been spoiled by advertising. Sometimes articles come up related to my internet cookies that keep track of my interests e.g. articles discussing recent Game of Thrones deaths when I haven’t watched the episode or read the book yet, or ads promoting fandom t-shirts with spoilers on!

 

I’ll tell ya, it’s tough been a fangirl in the 21st century.

 

As a general rule, I wish people could be more conscientious about posting spoilers on the internet.
I wish they would stop to think for a second about the ramifications, but then, that’s part of the problem with social networks, they’re instant and unmonitored. Because I hate spoilers, I’ve always been cautious about them on my blog, actively thinking about what information in a book would be considered a spoiler before I write my review, so I can give enough of a hint of the story to make people want to read the book without giving away so much that they feel they already know everything. And if I do enter even remotely spoilery territory, I put up a warning.

Of course, often spoiling someone is a genuine mistake.
For instance, just the other day I saw someone post their reaction to the ending of Allegiant on Goodreads which was followed by several angry commenters experiencing serious spoiler pain. This person was clearly so passionate about what they had just read  they felt the need to shout it into the internet in Caps Lock so they could discuss it with other people, and probably forgot in their bookish haze that it would spoil the novel for others.

That’s the thing, one of the benefits about the internet is that if you read something jaw-dropping, emotional or squeal-worthy you can share it with others. So how do we enjoy this benefit without giving away spoilers? Do we spend our time on the internet discussing our favourite plot twists by going:

You know when that thing happened?
And then so and so came in with THAT.
But then thingamajig found out.
And then that person died.
Oh, and the bit where thingy turned into a lampshade? OMG.
And then that person declared their undying love and said they would cherish thingy forever, even though they were a lampshade!!!! THE TEARS.

It doesn’t exactly have the same effect and isn’t nearly as satisfying, it also makes it difficult to go into depth about your thoughts. What if you’re favourite character just died? Or your long time character ship has finally been realised and you need to squeal about it? These are things that must be discussed IMMEDIATELY AND IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL.

Then there’s also the elusive ambiguity of what constitutes a spoiler.
What one person considers a spoiler may be entirely different to what somebody else believes to be a spoiler. Is giving away the main romantic interest in a book a spoiler? Talking about the end of a book? Saying there’s a plot twist somewhere? A lot of these come down to opinion and personal preference. If a book gets really popular and becomes a bestseller with a movie adaptation, do we then assume that everyone’s read it and talk more freely about it? For instance, I think it’s safe to say Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice… possibly The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars are considered to be so widely read/watched that people talk about character deaths and plot endings on social media regularly without even thinking about it.

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So I guess what I’m getting at and have been thinking about a lot lately, is whether we should feel an element of responsibility when it come to posting book spoilers on social media – or any kind of spoilers. Should we be conscientious of others before tweeting about a shocking character death? Or should social media be a free space where we can vent and put our initial reactions to something we have watched or read without feeling guilty? As someone who has been spoiled several times, I tend to back the former, but also understand the latter and think sharing reaction with others can be really fun.

So guys, now it’s your turn! Do you think it’s fair for people to post spoilers on social media and blogs? Should they feel a responsibility not to or should we suck it up? Have you ever had a book so utterly spoiled that it’s ruined the reading experience for you? (We can bond and rant together at the evils of humanity.)
How do you 
avoid spoilers on the internet? (Tips welcome!)

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29 thoughts on “Spoilers, Spoilers Everywhere! Free Speech vs Fangirl Angst.

    • It’s definitely easy to slip up, the media is such an ingrained part of our lives and if you feel passionate about a book or show you’ve just read/watched, sometimes the first thing you want to do is talk about it on twitter of facebook!

  1. I think it’s ok to include spoilers in reviews as long as you put “WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD” at the start of your review and then just before the spoiler. Then it’s up to the reader to decide if they want to know what happens or not.
    I got the last 2 books of the Harry Potter series delivered to my house on publication day and read them that day. It was the only way I could think of to avoid spoilers. I would have gone mad and possibly done physical harm to anyone telling me of any significant deaths or anything else in those books! 🙂

    • I agree, I know some people like to talk about spoilery aspects of a book in their reviews, which is absolutely fine! As long as they tell you that it’s going to have spoilers so you have the option to opt out if you want. 🙂

      Ahh, yes, Harry Potter spoilers were the worst when the series was still going! I remember when it was going around that someone died in book 5 and someone told me it was a certain character and I was livid! Luckily, what they told me turned out to be wrong. Good thinking grabbing the books as soon as they were released, I think that’s probably the best tactic. 🙂 I did the same thing, but I was quite young and a very slow reader so it took me AGES (months) to get through them.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Claire!

  2. Oh man! I HATE spoilers with a passion! So many things including books and TV shows have been ruined for me because of spoilers! I don’t have cable so I almost always see spoilers for the shows I haven’t been able to watch yet. I try to make sure that nothing in my book reviews could constitute being a spoiler but if I ever did, I would include a warning. I feel like it goes back to common courtesy (and the lack of it in some people)… If you don’t like it when things are spoiled for you, then don’t spoil it for other people. If you are going to throw a spoiler out there, definitely warn people ahead of the spoiler.

    • ME TOO! A lot of these thoughts had been swirling around in the back of my mind for about a year, so I thought it was time I put them into a post to see how others felt. 🙂 I’m sorry to hear that you’ve also been spoiled a lot over the years. Funnily enough, I have a similar problem in terms of American TV vs UK TV, because America usually gets programmes a couple of months before we do, that’s the danger zone where I tend to get spoiled! Especially on twitter.
      I agree – common courtesy is the perfect word, I’m glad you feel the same way and also use spoiler warnings in your reviews. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  3. With just about everything on the net these days, it’s up to the consumer to watch where they go. All you can do is avoid places the spoilers may come up, or just live with the consequences.
    (Contentious, or conscientious?)

    • I agree, you can’t monitor the internet pointing fingers at people who do stuff you don’t like (even if you sometimes wish you could). I guess in this argument, I’ve decided I sit somewhere in the middle! Basically, if you’re on the internet, you have to accept the possibility you may be spoiled, which sucks.

      Whoops! Thanks for pointing that out. Awkward typos = not good! (Especially when they’re the total opposite of what you mean).

  4. I preface my spoiler reviews with a warning, but if I don’t, I very consciously avoid putting spoilers into my reviews.

    But there are times when it’s such a fundamental part of the plot, it’s simply not possible. Take the movie “The Sixth Sense”…it would be impossible to talk about it coherently to someone who hadn’t seen it (and those who have seen it know why!).

    The second point was more interesting…trying to talk around spoilers without giving it out to people who might be listening / reading in by being absurdly elliptical. It’s so very clumsy, but there’s little alternative if you’re trying not to ruin it.

    Personally, spoilers when I come across them never bother me. I accept I’m going to stumble across them at some point and try not to get so seethed about it that Googling a picture of kittens in a basket won’t calm me down. 🙂

    • Yes, you are so right! Sometimes you do get those books that are EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to talk about when you can’t discuss a huge thing about them because it would be a spoiler. I’ve struggled with writing quite a few reviews for books like that because you want to explain the awesome but you can’t. So you kind of have to talk around it and hope you can interest people enough to discover it for themselves. Definitely get what you mean about The Sixth Sense.

      I agree that it can be a clumsy option, but if you think for long enough there is usually a way around it – even if you preface the review by saying something along the lines of ‘this book is impossible to talk about without spoilers so this review may be vague’. I’d still prefer that to outright spoilers.

      Wow, really? You are a very well restrained bookworm! Good for you. I wish I could be like that, but I still get annoyed every time. Glad to find a fellow blogger who also turns to Googling kittens, best cure for spoilers ever I think. 🙂

  5. To avoid spoilers: skip Pinterest & Tumblr completely. Really, it’s way too easy to find spoilers on both sites. Also, never flip to the back of a book you’re reading. For any reason. (I still hate myself a little for completely spoiling the final book of a series by accidentally seeing 4 words on the opposite page from the author bio.)

    However, if you haven’t read a major book/series yet, you have to come to terms with spoilers, I think. Practically the entire Harry Potter series was “spoiled” for me before I read it, but I was ~10 years late, so I just accepted that.

    I believe reviewers absolutely shouldn’t spoil a book without a clear warning well before.

    Other than that, I just try to read stuff as fast as possible when it comes out.

    • Sadly, I think you are right on this. The only way to truly avoid spoilers is to not go on social networks altogether. I totally forgot about Pinterest, but you’re right! That’s seriously bad for spoilers too, especially ones related to big fandoms.
      I’ve never been a go to the back of the book kinda girl, but I understand why people do it. Sorry to hear it ruined something for you!

      Ohh no, that sucks that Harry Potter was spoiled for you, it’s one of those series with so many twists and turns, and it’s really exciting when you discover them for yourself. I agree, I don’t get as annoyed with people who spoil series that have been out for a long time, I guess that is something you have to accept.

      Amen to that!

  6. I have mixed feelings about this issue. I know I would be upset if I found out something crucial ahead of time like a character death or the ending of a book, but on the other hand if I really don’t want to know, I can stay away from information on the internet. Now as for book reviews, I have worked for a company doing book reviews for authors, and in my opinion a review should not be about the plot, but rather about the writing skills of the author, whether I enjoyed the book or not and why, and how the book made me feel. Therefore, when I write a review I don’t talk about the plot much at all because it’s a review not a synopsis. That my friend is my humble opinion :).

    • I think you’ve hit the crux of the issue. If the spoilers you encounter are on social media you can theoretically avoid them. I do this purposefully when I know something I’m particularly interested in is coming out and that it might be all over twitter or facebook. However, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been so frustrated lately because I’ve been spoiled in places that have nothing to do with books or TV. I mean, being spoiled by advertising for Tshirts?!? That annoyed me.

      Interesting take on reviewing! I agree that a review shouldn’t be all about the plot – those are things you want to discover for yourself! I hate when reviews just read like a synopsis exactly like you’ve said because you can find that information in two seconds from somewhere else. I do like to discuss some plot though, mostly the themes and what I did and didn’t like about it. 🙂

      And I admire your humble opinion!

  7. AyYaYie! That’s a tough topic. I must admit, I didn’t realize that spoilers were such a big deal until I started committing myself to my blog. I included in my first couple reviews that things that I like to read in reviews, which includes spoilers. I like to know what happens before it occurs, in most cases, so most times I read reviews to be spoiled. There are a few times when I’d rather not be spoiled, but even if I am, I often don’t mind. Over the past couple months I’ve realized that not everyone thinks this way so I these days I try to be more mindful and tone down my summary and throw up SPOILER warnings. I think a warning is best. Read at your own risk.

    • I don’t think I was particularly aware of spoilers being such a big issue until I started my blog either, although I always kept them out of my reviews (probably subconsciously).
      Your wanting to know what happens and purposely spoiling yourself reminds me of my roommate from my first year of university! She had a thing about always reading the entire plot of a movie before going to see it. I never understood it, but if it’s the way you like to do things I say go for it! 🙂

      Sometimes spoiler reviews are REALLY fun to read because the bits you can’t talk about are often the best/most dramatic bits, so I’m sure they’re fun to write as well. As long as you put a spoiler warning iI think bloggers can talk about whatever aspects of a book they want. 🙂

  8. I don’t really understand the point of spoilers in book reviews. I mostly read reviews before I pick up the book, not after I’ve already read it (unless it’s a book I loved and want to see other people’s opinion on). Great post!

    • I’m exactly the same as you, Nola, I like my book reviews spoiler free! Reading reviews of books you’ve already read can be really fun because you can see who has similar opinions to you, but mostly I read reviews to see if I want to pick up a book.

      Thank you! And thanks for stopping by to comment. 🙂

  9. I hate spoilers! I try to avoid them as much as possible and I do my very best to warn and not include spoilers without warnings. I am very passionate in the thought that we all need to be careful of warning when we are about to discuss something that may be a spoiler.
    I loved this post!

    • Me too! I also try to avoid them wherever I can, but I’ve still managed to get spoilt quite a few times over the past few years, the main culprit is probably twitter, but I like it too much to give it up. I’m glad you feel the same way about warning people before putting up a spoiler. 🙂

      Thank you so much!

  10. BRAVO. YES. ALL OF THE YES.

    The people who give massive spoilers purely because it brings them joy don’t deserve to be on the fucking internet. There, I said it.

    Accidental spoilers I can live with. It can’t always be helped. Personally I wouldn’t ever want to ruin a reading/viewing experience for somebody else so I would give spoiler warnings.

    Game of Thrones has been a massive lesson for me. I’ve realised just how many people out there are ABSOLUTE TOSSERS. I haven’t read the books but on the whole I think the people who have have been brilliant at keeping spoilers under wraps for those of us who are watching the TV show. However, there are a percentage who just gleefully ruin everything. One thing which annoyed me was the fact that GoT episodes were broadcast in America a whole day before they were over here. I’d then have to spend that day avoiding social media and websites because even PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS would put spoilers IN THE FUCKING HEADLINES OF THEIR ARTICLES. Phew. Sorry, can you tell that it annoyed me?

    I’m also incandescently angry that I knew a major plot point for the end of season 5 because somebody put a meme on the internet saying who dies. Can’t we all just respect each other and be decent human beings?!

    • I would like it to be noted that I wish to like this comment x 1000, because yes, this is the EXACT problem I have had!!!

      If someone purposely spoilers you when they know you haven’t read/seen something that’s just plain rude, but if it’s by accident I’m more forgiving because I don’t want to make the other person feel bad either.

      But yes, Game of Thrones is the WORST CULPRIT and I have had the EXACT same problem. I have to say I think the book readers have done an excellent job about keeping that recent finale to themselves because it must have been so tempting to talk about it. The broadcasting times have caught me out so many times and have made me furious. I try to avoid the internet (especially twitter) when it’s airing in America earlier than here because it’s so easy to get spoiled, but hey, I’m human, sometimes I forget. And then I get the most horrific shock of my life when I SEE THINGS I DIDN’T WANT TO SEE. And yes, the fact that journalists are doing it too AND PUTTING IT IN HEADLINES is infuriating. I couldn’t believe it the next day after the finale how open people were being about major spoilers that would completely ruin the episode enjoyment for others, and some were even writing articles where they acknowledge the spoileryness and simply gave the middle finger. Not cool. What’s even more frustrating is sometimes these spoiler articles come up as adverts on your sidebar (because of your interests and cookies showing you like Game of Thrones) and then you get spoiled in the most unlikely places. -_-

      Yes, amen to that!

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