Spoiler Alert: We Don’t Yada-Yada Enough
It’s no secret, people love to share — their thoughts, their day, anything at all. And I’m not here to bash sharing. Sharing is great.
But we seem to have entered a strange space, where people understand the unwritten rule of not spoiling the ending of a hit movie or TV show but completely disregard that notion when it comes to other experiences in life, such as museums or one-of-a-kind events.
When Sharing Goes Awry
Gone are the days when the guards would reprimand museum-goers snapping photos. In fact, since 2016 museums have “embraced the selﬁe,” with hyper-interactive installations being designed specifically for Instagram. And it’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.
Recently, Atlanta’s High Museum hosted Yayoi Kusama’s world-renowned Inﬁnity Mirrors exhibit, described as a “glimpse inside the mind” of Kusama herself. As the promotional banner went up on the museum’s façade, Atlanta’s got a hint of what was to come — but no spoilers.
This quickly changed on November 17th, the day before the doors opened, when Atlanta Magazine published “7 Things to Know Before you Go.”
Sure, the article helpfully prepared visitors for the lines and the 30-second rules — but then it went too far, releasing image after image of some of the exhibit’s best visuals. Why did they need to show a white box along with what’s inside that same box? Why not just pretend it’s a VR experience without the headpiece and let people be completely surprised when they step inside?
And well beyond that article, I know that I wasn’t the only one being inundated on Facebook and Instagram with photos of Every. Single. Thing. that museum-goers saw between the months of November and February. Why? Why are we so willing to spoil the joy of discovery for others?
Preserving the Joy of Discovery
Perhaps rules should be implemented, so as to help enable all patrons to capture that joy. But who would set the rules? Is it the artist, who knew what she was doing when she created the show to be experienced in this way? Their marketing team, who created the hashtag without a proper plan in place? The museum, which certainly wasn’t turning down all the publicity the social sharing offered?
Yes, it’s human nature to share. But is there a scenario where the museum might say to the artist, “Yes, we can house your show here, but please provide a social media strategy that allows everyone a fair chance at a first impression when they come stand in line to experience the show”? Is there a way one or two photo ops could be designated for sharing during the show’s residency but a separate embargo could be set for other images?
Events designed for social sharing will be with us for the long-haul. But how can we approach them more responsibly? How can we let community members know about the show, without spoiling the ending? It’s like in the Seinfeld episode when George’s girlfriend used the phrase “yada yada” to gloss over various parts of her stories. Jerry responds, “But you yada yada’d over the best part!”
I’d say we don’t “yada yada” nearly enough anymore. Let’s stop posting everything and share responsibly instead.