Social Media Might Be Ruining Our Favorite TV Shows

By Phyllis L.

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It’s Thursday night and you’ve been dying to catch the new episode of How to Get Away with Murder, but you’re stuck typing an essay due tomorrow. Because you’re faithful to your beloved television series, you opted to record it on your DVR, or set a reminder to watch it on Hulu the next day. Everything is going according to plan, until you take a break from your studious endeavors to check your Twitter feed. Suddenly, your followers bombard you with spoilers that reveal the death of your favorite character.

Tonight’s seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead took fans on an emotional, gory ride. It was the moment we’d been dreading since Robert Kirkman first released the 100th issue of the zombie graphic novel. A moment that we’d all been anticipating, but some did not have the pleasure of watching it live.

Social media has made it easier than ever to share anything and everything, especially reactions to prime time television. Trying to avoid this information can be frustrating, and often impossible if you’re accustomed to simply picking up your mobile device to scroll done your newsfeed. A psychology professor at Yale University, Paul Bloom, has done extensive research to figure out why spoilers drive us so mad.

In his book, How Pleasure Works, Bloom explains that humans cherish stories so much, we spend the majority of our free time exploring fictional worlds. To some degree, it is difficult for us to distinguish fact from fiction.

For example, a study discovered that if a piece of fudge looks like feces, people are less likely to eat it even if they’re completely aware that it’s simply chocolate. This is where appearance and reality get blurred. A psychology professor at Pace University, Thalia Goldstein, determined that this type of “blurring” occurs on a neurological level, which means that the conscious parts of the brain grasp that a story is fictional, but the most primitive parts believe that it is real.

A conclusion by Jennifer Richler at The Atlantic suggests that “spoilers suck because they remind us that a story is just a story. It’s hard to get transported when you already know where you’ll end up—in real life, you don’t have that knowledge.”

My only advice for those of you who can’t catch the premiere of your favorite show the exact time it airs is to stay offline until you can watch it; this might be the only way to avoid dreaded spoilers. And to my followers who were online but weren’t able to watch the live premiere of #TWD, I sincerely apologize for my tweets.

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Phyllis Lynch is a senior at the University of North Texas. After trying out a multitude of incompatible majors, she fell in love with Public Relations. Her interest for journalism developed in high school while working on the yearbook committee and taking photojournalism classes. She is also minoring in psychology, which stimulates her interest in understanding how the human mind works. Phyllis dances to the beat of her own drum, and takes great pride in identifying as a black feminist. When she is not swamped with schoolwork or binging on Netflix, Phyllis immerses herself into photography, filming short videos and blogging about fashion and beauty. One of her dreams is to become a well-renowned Media Producer.