Spoilers are everywhere.
With the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally in theaters and the last season of “Game of Thrones” currently airing, this constant truth is even more relevant than usual, much to the disappointment, and sometime rage, of those who are not able to catch up on their favorite franchises immediately when new installments are released. But the universal quality of spoilers reveals a second part of their nature: namely, that spoilers are a permanent part of how media is consumed in the modern age.
Instead of expecting others to not make comments or posts online that could spoil something for someone else, those who wish to avoid spoilers need to acknowledge that spoilers exist and then take steps to avoid them.
“Spoiler culture” is especially entrenched in modern social media usage; in the wake of a major media event such as “Avengers: Endgame,” memes and theory videos are quick to overtake most social media platforms. This is common knowledge, so much so that “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo posted an open letter to fans on Twitter to not spoil the movie for other fans who were not able to see the film immediately after it hit theaters. While the sentiment certainly brought comfort to some fans, it also, rather predictably, failed to prevent spoilers completely. Fans who were truly determined to not encounter spoilers would have been well off avoiding social media entirely until they were able to watch the movie themselves, and would have been even better off seeing the movie on the first day it was in theaters to give themselves immunity to any spoilers they might encounter on or off the internet.
It is true that even the most diligent avoidance of spoilers may not be enough to prevent contact with them; after all, cutting out social media will not prevent spoilers overheard when out in public. Some might argue that content that could accidentally spoil plot details for others should not be posted to social media until enough time has passed that anyone who wants to consume the media in question would have the opportunity to do so. However, it is impossible to agree on a suitable grace period that would account for everyone who wants to consume a piece of media, as some people are upset when encountering spoilers for media that has been out for years or even decades. Additionally, it is ridiculous to reprimand people who paid to consume media for then discussing it, especially on their personal social media platforms. Setting any sort of timeframe where fans are “not supposed” to discuss a current work hurts the discourse that would otherwise be taking place to help cement the work’s place in popular culture.
Finally, those bothered by spoilers need to understand that spoilers rarely impact the ability to enjoy a piece of media. An example of a show that would actually be impacted by spoilers is “School Living Club” (which I am about to spoil to illustrate a point for the next two sentences). This show centers around four girls who have fortified their former high school to survive a zombie apocalypse, but frames itself as a cheery slice-of-life anime until the very end of the first episode. Knowing that this show is actually about a zombie apocalypse before watching the first episode would prevent the reveal from delivering its full impact. Simply put, few pieces of media have twists that are this instrumental to the piece overall. Alternatively, the twists in a lot of other media are so heavily foreshadowed that they might as well be spoiled. The major character deaths in “Avengers: Endgame,” for instance, were easy to predict minutes before they occurred; knowing that these deaths were coming from a spoiler would not have ruined the full three hour viewing experience for most fans.
Ultimately, spoilers are just a fact of life in modern media consumption, and everyone will eventually encounter them. This cannot be changed, but the way fans think about spoilers can evolve to best respond to them. Instead of expecting others to not spoil, start assuming that others will, and act accordingly.