138: The Science Behind Spoilers
Spoiler Alert! Everybody hates spoilers. Social media is fraught with people spoiling TV shows, upcoming movies, books, games, events, and activities. We believe it could be a couple of different reasons. If everyone hates them so much, why do people still do it?
The first that comes to mind is malicious intent. The true meaning of “spoiling” an experience is to ruin the experience for others intentionally. We all know that one guy that always tell s the ending of a story before we hear it. No one wants to hang out with that one guy because he ruins every movie/TV show and gets off on the feeling of power he/she gets over sharing knowledge that he/she believes no one else knows.
The second reason is more common. A person unintentionally spoils the experience by hinting at things or “foreshadowing.” These people truly love the story or activity they are involved in, but have a hard time avoiding information that affects your experience with the activity. They mean well, but have this annoying habit to set expectations of something yet to happen.
Why do these people do these things? Having been guilty of both a time or two, I think the first is just looking for the attention that they get from having the knowledge. The second truly enjoys the activity or story, but can’t separate their feelings from those of other people. They are the ones that say “don’t get attached to these characters,” or “just wait until the next episode. I read the book and the next episode should break your heart.”
Whatever the reason, spoiling something for someone has a real impact on their expectations of that activity or event. It limits their ability to fully experience or enjoy something new. If we are more cognizant of how we are sharing with each other, we might be able to recognize when we are guilty of these things and begin to correct it. It is difficult not to project our experiences on others. Therefore, we should try to be aware of how we might be trying to create an experience for someone else based on our feelings, and not theirs.