Forgetting a spoiler is surprisingly difficult to do, partly because it’s very hard to just forget things in general.
Especially when it comes to spoilers, you will basically experience that mind paradox where you “try not to think of a pink elephant”.
That being said, for better or worse the human mind does have some limitations which you can use to forget the spoiler.
They’re not guaranteed to work, because the human mind is a fickle thing. However, they do help to increase the chance to forget a particular spoiler.
Plus, a spoiler itself is a very special kind of information. If you’ve read or heard the spoiler, then it’s a very abstract kind of memory, since it doesn’t have much physical anchoring attached to it.
This makes spoilers easier to forget than other kinds of memories, since they don’t have such a strong connection to the physical world.
8 methods to forget spoilers
Don’t think about the spoiler
When you first hear/read about a spoiler, it will be stored in your short-term memory. If you don’t bring up the memory again it won’t pass over into long-term memory, so you’ll completely forget about it very quickly (meaning a few hours at most).
This is because memory is generally divided into two types: “short term” and “long term” memory.
Short term memory is where we store information we’ve just learned (things like somebody’s phone number, a person’s name, a story someone shares etc.).
Information stored in short term memory is quickly deleted within a few hours once it’s no longer needed.
However, thinking or repeating information stored in short term memory will transfer it over to long-term memory.
Once stored in long-term memory, the information becomes ingrained in your mind. You will eventually forget it, but it’s going to take a lot longer.
Distract your mind
Your mind needs to repeat a particular information in order to store it in long-term memory.
There are a number of ways to prevent this.
Mental math exercises, puzzles and riddles are one way:
“I borrowed $50 from my mom and $50 from dad to buy a shirt costing $97. After the purchase, I had $3 left. I returned $1 to dad and $1 to mom, and reserved $1 for myself. I now owe $49+$49=$98 plus the $1 I reserved for myself, which is $99. Where is the missing $1?”
It can be this particular mind puzzle, or any other kind of math question or riddle. It doesn’t matter. It just needs to be something that breaks your train of thought and makes you think about other things.
Watch an interesting YouTube video or browse funny stuff on the Internet to distract yourself.
Again, you just want to distract your mind and prevent it from repeating information and imprinting it to long term memory.
A short 3-4 minute video, or the cute animals on reddit.com/r/eyebleach should be more than enough to distract you from whatever it is you’re thinking.
Overwrite the memory of the spoiler
Every time you recall a memory, your brain changes some of the details.
This is because memories naturally degrade over time, and as a way to counter this, our brains fill in the gaps with similar, but fake, memories.
You can exploit this by recalling the memory and actively trying to change a tiny bit of information every time.
The changes need to be small and believable. If they’re too big your brain will push back against the changes and instead strengthen the memories.
Rewriting can be done mentally, but it has a better success rate if you speak the changes out loud.
Is this method guaranteed to change your memory of the spoiler? No, it is not.
But if the spoiler is already firmly implanted in your head, then just trying to forget the spoiler won’t be so successful, but changing the information in the spoiler might just do the trick.
The spoiler isn’t as important as you think
Just because you’ve received a spoiler doesn’t mean it’s ruined the book, movie or game you want to enjoy.
Unless it’s a huge twist or the reveal of a criminal in a detective whodunnit story, most stories are simply too complex to be ruined by just a single spoiler.
This is because most of the times it’s not the actual story beat or event that’s important. What really matters is the execution, and how well that story unfolds the events.
Besides, you just know something will happen, but you don’t really know the context for it, meaning you don’t know when, where and how it happens.
Have a drink
If you’ve just heard the spoiler and the context allows, then consider having a drink or two. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to give you a buzz.
This is because alcohol temporarily impacts your short-term memory and makes it harder to create memories, including remembering the spoiler.
Try the mind palace method to delete memories
The memory palace is a technique that’s been proven to improve memory retention, but can also be used to forget things as well.
The way it works is that you create a huge mental palace, with hundreds of rooms and drawers and in each of those rooms you store a particular memory.
However, the memory palace technique can even be used to forget memories.
To do this, just imagine you storing that memory in a room of your mind palace, and then either board up that room or just seal it with concrete and turn the door into a wall.
When it comes to forgetting memories, it is essentially a method of self-suggestion. However, it has been proven to consistently produce better results than the “natural” method of just letting your brain remembering and forgetting memories at its own pace.
Just avoid the movie, book or TV series for a while
If you’ve received a spoiler for a book or movie you haven’t yet started, then consider avoiding it for a while. Keeping everything “out of sight, out of mind” will help you naturally forget the spoilers you received.
This method won’t really work if you’re already in the middle of the book or TV series, since you’ll lose track of the stuff that’s already happened alongside the spoiler.
Overall, not the most convenient method, but it can work in some circumstances.
Confuse the spoiler
Confusing the spoiler in this context means scrambling the information in the spoiler with information from similar books, TV series, movies etc.
To do this, simply read the plot summary of various stories from films, books etc., and hope it mixes in with information from the spoiler and creates something new.
Ideally this should be done right after you’ve been spoiled, so that while still in the memorizing phase, the information from the spoiler is mixed together with information from the plot summary you’re reading.
To find plot summaries for movies or TV series, you could use IMDB’s advanced title search, fill in all your criteria, and search for productions that you know you’ll never watch, but are similar to the story you’ve been spoiled.
After you’ve found one or more productions, find their plot summaries on Wikipedia or similar sites.
Again, this method isn’t guaranteed to work, but all you need is an above average chance of success (compared to just naturally forgetting the spoiler) for it to be worth it.