The Mandela Effect

Lily Bazis, Staff Writer

Something has captured the attention of everyone in recent months, and it has the world buzzing. It’s been all over the Internet and social media and has people going crazy at what it could mean and why it is happening. All of this hoopla surrounds the Mandela Effect, which is defined as a person having a clear, personal memory of something that never happened in this reality. That’s right, this reality.

This concept has provided many with the reason to speculate on the presence of parallel realities, and how we have been, perhaps, “sliding” between them without realizing it. While this may sound slightly crazy to most people,  the instances that cause people to believe this can be very convincing.

The Mandela Effect got its name from paranormal enthusiast Fiona Broome, after she realized she wasn’t the only one who wrongly believed that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s.

I know what you’re thinking. Just because one girl said this to be true doesn’t make it completely reliable. However, this is more than just one casual misconception. According to The Telegraph, Broome “vividly recalled the media coverage of Mandela’s funeral and subsequent riots.” This interview was in 2010, when Mandela was still alive, so it wasn’t that she remembered footage from 2013 and had simply mixed up the dates.

After Broome started, she discovered that other people – in fact, groups of people – remembered periods of time differently, including people who claim that the protester who defied the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 was run over by them. Some even claim they were taught that in school.

The theory is a bit far-fetched, but it’s the small changes in details, such as the spelling of brand names or the “altering” of famous quotes that have people convinced that history has been messed with.

One simple yet telling example of this altering is a famous line from Star Wars in which Darth Vader states one of the most iconic lines in film history. Many recall the line as, “Luke, I am your father.” However, the name Luke is never actually spoken , and the real line is “No, I am your father.” So, why does everyone remember it as something else? Is it simply reported wrongly once and snowballs into an alternate reality or is there something more?  

People hungry for science fiction and proof of an alternate universe have searched far and wide for more instances of the Mandela Effect. Another famous example is the Berenstein Bears phenomenon, which has recently blown the minds of people all over. This is because countless people have clear memories of the beloved book series being called The Berenstein Bears, not the Berenstain Bears, as it reads on the cover of the books. This really was the instance of change or “alternate reality” that started it all, because how could a book series that so many people remember reading one way, just change to something completely different?  

There are probably hundreds of small examples just like this, from the spelling of different brands to the shapes of famous logos. However, there is no real way to prove the fidelity of the Mandela Effect, as it is just a theory. Some try to debunk the theory, such as the writers behind The New York Post, who explain the phenomenon as simply  “if someone says or implies that something looks a certain way, there’s a natural tendency to believe them if you’ve never paid close attention to it.”

Either way, the Mandela Effect is just plain fun to learn about, and can be interesting to everyone in some way. Whether you believe in the theory or not, the Mandela Effect will forever change how you look at things, and how everything is not what it seems.