Writing Prompts: The Mandela Effect

One of the more intriguing apps I recently downloaded is ‘NGL’, or ‘Not Gonna Lie’. The app enables people to anonymously ask you questions via Twitter (though, if one is inclined to pay, one can find out who asked what). There are some risks posed by this app (I’m aware of people getting abuse via it), but all in all, it’s a bit of fun, and it’s opened the pathway to some interesting questions, including the one above.

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon whereby large groups of people collectively misremember something, or collectively remember something that didn’t actually happen. Via Good Housekeeping, there are a great many examples.

The first is the one that inspired the name of this phenomenon. Former South African President and civil rights activist Nelson Mandela died in 2013, yet there are many, many people around the world who believe he died in the 1980s, during his incarceration. I’ll confess to not understanding this particular example, but then again, I’ve got a few of my own.

The 2005 film Robots was a reasonably entertaining movie, but when my future wife and I saw it at the cinema, I was utterly convinced that Tobey Maguire played the lead character of Rodney Copperbottom. When the film came out on DVD, and we rewatched it, I was stunned to realise that Ewan McGregor played Copperbottom.

I guess my own individual experience of the effect is not quite in the same league as other examples! There is a product called Febreze, that a lot of people, myself included, refer to as Frebreeze (and it so happens to be one of Good Housekeeping’s examples). The line ‘Luke, I am your father,’ never actually gets spoken in Star Wars; the line is ‘no, I am your father.’ Captain Kirk never said ‘beam me up, Scotty’ in Star Trek. The line is ‘beam me up, Mr Scott.’

The Mandela Effect goes to show how memories can be fluid, and how now more than ever, with so much information and disinformation, nothing should be taken for granted.

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