There's a lot of talk on what constitutes as spoilers nowadays. See a simple guide below

With big titles hitting theaters and television (read: Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones' Final Season), a lot of people are pretty excited to totally immerse into their stories—and for many fans, it appears there’s no other god-awful way to ruin the hype than by spoiling plot lines for them. (In case the hundreds of angry posts on your feed haven't clued you in yet.)


Unfortunately, some people still don’t see the wrong in posting spoilers on social media. Sure, it’s your account, you can post anything on it, but that doesn’t protect you from the annoyance and ire of other people. Expect that you'll be judged, argued with, or worse, be in a situation where you're putting your own safety at risk, like the guy who got beaten up after shouting Endgame spoilers outside a movie theater in Hong Kong

Here are a few examples of what constitutes as spoilers:

1. The blatant “I can’t believe XXXXX died/got destroyed/was actually a ghost”

It’s fine to discuss opinions online, but always include a spoiler alert at the beginning of your post. It's one way to be considerate of other people.

2. The pahapyaw “OMG. [Name of character], [crying emoji]!”

Sure, you didn’t exactly say what will happen to that character, but context clues can sometimes be enough for people to figure out what you mean. Therefore, people who won’t be watching as early as you will now be unconsciously wary of what’s to happen to the said character, and for some, it seems that’s enough to ruin the experience.


3. Memes and other “vague” images (that aren’t really vague)

Yes, even your “no context” memes are practically spoilers for those who haven’t seen what you’ve seen. Again, it’s about context clues—your friends will get it, especially if they're superfans.

Why do people hate spoilers?

A feature on The Atlantic mentions a book by psychology professor Paul Bloom titled How Pleasure Works, which says that “on some level, we don’t distinguish fact from fiction.” In the same article, Thalia Goldstein, a psychology professor at Pace University, adds that “this blurring actually happens at the neurological level: The conscious, thinking parts of our brain tell us that a story isn't real, but the more primitive parts tell us it is.”

Thus, spoilers suck: it destroys the suspension of disbelief, keeps you from immersing fully in a story, and it reminds you, on some level, that what you’re seeing is nothing more than fiction.

There’s another study on Psychology Today, though, that proposes that spoilers make you experience a story better: “Spoiled stories are easier to follow and understand than stories where the ending is unknown.” But, as the saying goes, different folks, different strokes—so better err on the side of caution.


When is it etiquette-ly sound to discuss spoilers?

There’s no ban on discussing a good story that you’ve really gotten into, provided that you also give other people the chance to enjoy it in the same way that you have (except if it was spoiled for you and you just didn't care, again, it's different for everyone). A feature on Forbes says that a week is good enough for you to start publicly discussing a movie or the show, but if you’re going to talk about plot points, always ask who you’re speaking with if they’ve already seen the said movie or show. It's not a discussion if the person you're speaking with does not even know what you're talking about.

Moreover, as a sign of respect for the other people around you, talk in low tones. Don’t inadvertently ruin anyone’s day. As writer Jennifer Richler goes on to say on The Atlantic, “Taking away the anticipation does take away the pleasure of a story. There's plenty of research showing that people enjoy the anticipation of something pleasurable as much as—or sometimes even more than—they enjoy the thing itself.”


The bottom line is respect. Don’t steal anyone’s fun especially if they've been so vocal about how they feel, because at the end of the day, you wouldn’t want anyone to do the same to you.

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