The Internet and social media platforms often play spoilsport, giving away the ending of a great book or telling you what happens in the next episode of your TV series
Before the Internet invaded our lives, trends and popular culture meant tidbits of information shared by friends and family members. Once a popular series ended, there was no platform to learn more about the characters, new plots etc. The Internet seems to have changed the manner in which we consume new trends of popular culture. From running promotions on social media websites to operating fan pages and Wikia pages on the net, fans are ensuring that the characters they adore live on forever on the Net.
Sahil Agarwal, who followed the Breaking Bad and Dexter series closely says, “The Internet has ensured that I do not miss these shows. There are multiple blogs and fan pages that describe each of the characters, provide back stories to the characters and fan fiction about what happens next. Characters such as Dexter and Walter White have dedicated pages on Wikia and Wikipedia.”
Apart from fan books that boast of massive readership online, spoilers kill the mood of some Net junkies. P. Sridhar, an animation artist, says, “The Internet has become a treasure trove of information as far as popular books, movies, and TV series are concerned. I try to stay away from the Net whenever I am finishing a book or a series to avoid spoilers, which abound on the Net. Even reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads are full of spoilers that destroy the fun of watching a TV series/ reading a book. When I was growing up, your friends or family were the only ones who would give out spoilers. Now, the whole world seems to have latched on to it.”
Samanth Pathak is a fan of Harry Potter in particular, and young adult fiction. He contends, “When Harry Potter was not as popular and the Internet was just about making a mark in India, I would have to hunt online forums for any information about the series. It all changed after the movies became popular. People got interested in the books and at the eve of every launch, tons of spoilers flooded the online space. You no longer needed a pesky friend to tell you the ending of an engrossing book/TV series. The Internet would do that job for you.”
Over the past few years, new age popular culture phenomena have fallen prey to the social media. “If a popular series has one bad episode, it is torn apart on social media websites. The attention span is limited, especially since more choices are available,” says engineer Anurag Arora. He adds, “I think the social media users must use the medium responsibly and ensure that the experience of watching a good series/reading a good book is not tarnished by the spoilers.”
Spoilers notwithstanding, many feel that the Internet and social media platforms have ensured more engagement. “A TV episode just lasts 50 minutes a week. Following the fan pages ensure that I learn more about the characters, can relate more to what they do everyday. It adds to the connect that one feels with the series. Some of the fan fiction is good enough to make for standalone novels of their own. I do think that even the craze around Harry Potter and the revival of interest in the Lord of the Rings is to do with the Internet age,” quips Samanth.