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You feel like your world has become smaller. Now and then, you have to look over your shoulder. You walk fast, hurried and harried. You ignore the voices, drowning these out with your inner voice of resolve.

 

Spoilers!

At a time when plot reveals and crucial story points of films, TV series, and even books can be easily and instantly shared between people, it can be difficult for spoiler-averse people to escape what seems to be the fate of a modern world that is constantly connected.

 

What can one do?

 

The science behind spoilers

Why are some people deathly afraid of spoilers while others are seemingly immune to its effects, with some even readily rushing forward to find these?

Jonathan D. Leavitt and Nicholas J. S. Christenfeld, psychologists from the University of California, conducted a study on the impact of spoilers. In this study, 819 undergraduate students from the university were asked to read three works of short fiction that they haven't read before.

Some of the stories were spoiled before they were handed to the participants; in other instances, the stories were either left unspoilt, or the spoilers were included in the introductory text. Afterwards, the participants were asked by the researchers to give their evaluation of the stories.

Overwhelmingly, the majority of the participants said that they enjoyed the stories even if significant plot points and twists were divulged. The researchers attribute this unlikely outcome to the fact that spoilers can, in fact, help readers enjoy and understand stories better. Knowing what will come ahead allows readers to have something to anticipate and look forward to. This is why many people enjoy rereading books and rewatching movies.

 

A recent phenomenon

The movement against spoilers is a relatively new phenomenon, born out of social media, the binge-watching trend, and online communities.

And as studios prepare their lineups of blockbuster films, fans try to analyze every bit of detail they can get out of official trailers and posters. For some, getting ahead of other people when it comes to watching a film or TV series imbues them with a sense of power.

Before the birth of the Internet, upcoming movies showed significant plot points in their trailers. And even before movies became popular, book writers have been using spoilers, typically through chapter headings, without dismaying their fans.

 

How to protect yourself from spoilers

Still unconvinced that spoilers aren't totally bad? Here are some strategies to help protect yourself from plot surprises, both online and offline.

 

Block out the noise (literally)

You might think that you have done a great job of avoiding spoilers by staying offline so you won’t accidentally read any spoilers possibly shared by people you know. But then, a colleague inadvertently reveals a major plot point while you walk together to the office pantry.

If your workplace allows it, use headphones, preferably noise-cancelling ones, to limit the chatter surrounding you that is related to a movie or TV show you are looking forward to watching.

 

Use social media with caution

If you can't get out of social media for an extended period, whatever your reasons may be, the next best thing that you can do is to safeguard yourself while checking these sites.

For Twitter, for example, some apps allow you to filter your feed from potential spoilers by blocking content with specific keywords.

For your browser, there are a few extensions that can also help you block content containing potential spoilers across different social media platforms, from Facebook to Twitter to Reddit.

 

Put your phone on airplane mode

You're out and about and then suddenly, you get a notification on your phone. You take a peek at your social media. And then, after just a few seconds, a person or page you're following posts a spoiler.

The easiest way to avoid this is to set your phone on airplane mode, just until you watch that movie or episode.

 

Stay offline

At the end of the day, you really can't control what other people post online. And when you think you are safe from plot surprises, a wayward post may inadvertently crop up on your feed. The best way to prevent that is to stay offline just until you get to watch the very movie or episode you do not want spoiled.

Spoiled or unspoiled, you can certainly still enjoy a movie or a show. Remember, a production goes beyond the plot. Even if a major plot point has been revealed, you can enjoy the unravelling or even the technical processes involved.


AUTHOR BIO

Paul Fox is the Director of Roxy Cinemas under Meraas Group/DXB Entertainments. Roxy Cinemas currently has five Dubai locations: The Beach, La Mer, City Walk, Box Park, and Bollywood Parks.

 

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