Have you ever found yourself driving along in your car and singing a song that you know all the lyrics to, but realize you’ve never actually heard the song before? Or have you ever heard a word or phrase for the first time, only to realize later that it’s been in popular use for years? The latter actually happened to me several years ago, when I (embarrassingly) wrote a post about how Jon Stewart popularized the word “douchebag,” something I’d never heard used pejoratively before I’d heard Jon Stewart use it on The Daily Show (I would soon find out that the word has been a popular insult for decades. Thanks commenters!).
These phenomena fall under the category of either a “glitch in the matrix” or the “Mandela Effect.” The Mandela Effect refers to when a group of individuals all misremember the same detail or event, so named because — when Nelson Mandela died in 2013 — many people had mis-remembered that he’d already died several years before.
This happens occasionally with celebrities, who we think have already died or died much later than we thought. For instance, Peter Boyle, the Dad on Everybody Loves Raymond. Is he dead? If so, when did he die?
(Yes, he’s dead. He died the year after Everybody Loves Raymond ended, in 2006, which blows my mind).
I heard about this phenomenon for the first time over the weekend, in a Reply All podcast in reference to the most popular example of the Mandela Effect: The Berenstein Bears. I’m spelling it “Berenstein” because that’s how I remember it. It’s how most people remember it.
But it’s wrong. It’s actually Berenstain Bears, which befuddles me to no end. Really? Berenstain? This also falls under a “glitch in the matrix,” the theory that the universe forked at some point into a different reality. In my original reality, it was spelled “Berenstein Bears.” In the reality that I’ve forked into, it’s spelled “Berenstain Bears.”
Here’s a helpful video explaining the glitch.
There are actually a couple of subreddits devoted to these phenomena. I got lost in them for an hour or two earlier today, and came away with a few more examples that apply to me. Can you think of any examples of a “glitch in the matrix” or the Mandela effect that apply to you?
— On Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, you may remember Mr. Rogers singing, “It’s a beautiful day in THE neighborhood,” when in fact, he sings, “It’s a beautiful day in THIS neighborhood.”
— What color do you remember Jennifer Aniston’s eyes to be on Friends? Blue-grey? Or green?
— How did Houdini die? I distinctly remember, when I was younger, hearing that Houdini died performing a buried alive stunt, so I was surprised the other day to learn that he actually died in the hospital after being punched in the stomach.
— Another very common mis-remembrance is the spelling of the fast food restaurant that specializes in delicious chicken sandwiches made by evangelical homophobes.
Is it Chic-Fil-A or Chick-Fil-A?