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.
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.
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!)