Forgetting Spoilers

Spoilers can be hard enough to avoid even without the internet, but in this age of Twitter, blogs, chats, Facebook, etc., it can be especially difficult.  It doesn’t necessarily ruin the viewing experience, but for anyone who’s ever had the ending to a show revealed prematurely or accidentally seen the score of a game they hadn’t watched yet, it can take the wind out of your sails a little. I have a way of dealing with spoilers already read, however, and while it isn’t fool-proof, it has worked for me on multiple occasions.

So let’s start off with some generic spoiler:

I can’t believe his dad was really a gorilla and that the conspiracy began in 1327.

First thing, don’t read that sentence again!

Now, do you have any doubts as to what it said? If so, this is good. You basically have to let the doubts in your mind make the memory of what you just read increasingly hazy. What was the sentence about? What was the big twist? If you can’t remember exactly, then the uncertainty of your memory can make even the things you know you read seem subject to ambiguity.

Once you’ve made your memories a sufficient mush, the final trick is to just let it go. Stop thinking about it, period. Give yourself some time, like a few minutes or maybe even a few hours or days, and don’t even let it cross your mind. Eventually, by the time you do think about it again, there’s a good chance the faulty elements of your short and/or long-term memory will have scrambled the spoiler to the point that it’s at least less of an issue.

Did I just create a guide to encourage doublethink? Well, best to just forget about that.


5 thoughts on “Forgetting Spoilers

  1. If I could simply will my brain to forget the things I wanted to forget and remember the things I wanted to remember as easily as you describe it, then I would live in complete happiness. If I could actively make myself not think about something, then I would simply not think about the bad things ever. Unfortunately, that’s not how my brain works.

    The second I glimpse at something revelatory about a work I haven’t seen yet, I never look back at it. I quickly look away…but I also never forget it, and there are no doubts as to what it said. If I see a film trailer, I will remember every memorable thing about it such that once I see the movie, that knowledge doesn’t go away. I will know in my head “but that thing I saw didn’t happen yet.”

    I don’t remember the dates of birth of my parents, what the names of my school teachers or classmates were, or…um, what’s something important that people tend to never forget? I’m having trouble coming up with examples of those, but those are all things I will forget sooner than details about the movie, game, cartoon, etc. that I’m interested in seeing. Or, in other words:

    “I say ‘don’t think about elephants.’ What are you thinking about?”


    • This. There have been times where I have accidentally moused over a blacked-out spoiler on 4chan, only seeing a fragment of a sentence for a fraction of a second… And that sentence fragment ends up coloring my entire viewing of the rest of a show.

      Even if I can stop thinking about a spoiler, once I start watching the work that was spoiled again the spoiler will jump to the forefront of my mind.


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