I apologize for the longer than normal gap between posts, but life has been incredibly busy lately. My wife and I are looking to purchase our first home (yay!) but the hunt is intimidating and arduous. I’ll do my best to keep posting new content as often as possible during this frenzied time, but please forgive any short lapses!
Anyway, this week I am going to cover a couple related topics that fascinate me to no end. While they may exist under a variety of pseudonyms, the more widespread and general awareness of the concept can be traced back to this memorable scene of the first iconic Matrix film:
Glitches in the matrix
Happenings that just don’t fit with the standard expectations of reality, and may involve changes or quirks in the world around you that only you notice. Often times it can be something simple that might be dismissed as coincidence, such as sightings of unrelated individuals dressed exactly alike (several examples appear in this fun list). Many others are much more personal and profound, though. This blogger compiles several experiences shared by reddit users in the Glitch community, which is an excellent source for exploring current tales of unsettling alterations in reality. Here is one such tale that is both amusing and unsettling, shared by reddit user /u/-SheltieMom:
“So I never knew that there was a name for this or indeed that lots of people had experienced odd things. Stoked to have found a Reddit dedicated to this sort of thing.
We moved in to our house in October and the first morning we woke up there, I got up early and made waffles. He had one, I had one, he had his second and I had made my second one and left it to cool for literally 20 seconds while I answered the phone. When I turned around, my plate was there, but my waffle was gone. Vanished. My first thought was that my partner had taken it but he swears he didn’t and I’ve never known him to eat things that weren’t his, or to eat three waffles for that matter. And I don’t think he could have eaten it in the time allowed either. Our dogs were at my parents’ because of the move, so counter surfing was not an answer either. In time I stopped wondering and it just became a joke to ask, “but what happened to the waffle?”
A couple of weeks ago, my partner got up first, made coffee, brought me a cup and we were enjoying a lazy morning. Over an hour later, I wandered off to the kitchen to make eggs and there, on the counter, was a hot waffle.
I feel it prudent to mention now that I am the classic skeptic. My partner is the classic believer. We call each other Mulder and Scully in jest. This is precisely the kind of long con joke he’d play, in the interest of proving that there’s something I’ll believe, even for just a moment, so instead of freaking immediately, my reaction was to march into the bedroom, intending to throw the waffle at him and call him on his prank. Halfway down the hall it hit me: the waffle was still warm as if it had just come out of the maker. He hadn’t left my sight the entire time. There was no way that it would have still been warm. I turned around and looked for the waffle maker, and it was not only under other small appliances, it was cold. It’s ancient and always takes ages to cool off and it was clear it hadn’t made anything that morning. There was no way to make the waffle and no one to make it. How did it get there?
I can’t think of any rational explanation for this.”
Another story by /u/thehotdogmaker highlights yet another dubious topic of discussion which I plan to address in a future post, reincarnation:
So this happened some years ago when my youngest daughter was 3 years old. She was playing in the living room and my wife and I are watching TV. I notice that she is doing something that she is not supposed to so I tell her to stop ( can’t remember now what she was doing) Anyways, she says “Why?” and I give the usual parent response of, ” Because I am your dad and I said so.” She stops doing the thing and goes back to playing, then,a few minutes later she says, “You know you are not my real dad?” So I think she is being cheeky so I ask, “Oh yeah, then who is your real dad?” She looks confused for a sec then says, “I don’t remember his name, but he was my dad before I came here.” At this point I am interested so I get down on the floor. “Okay, before you were here you were in mommy’s tummy.” I say. She giggles and goes and snuggles into her mom. “No, it was before I was in mommy’s tummy, I was waiting to come here with the other people, but before that I lived in a house with my other mommy and daddy, and I had a sister also…but not sissy.” Here she is referring to my older daughter. At this point my wife joins in, she asks, “So where did your other family live?” My wife is looking at me with a confused look. My daughter says, ” We lived in a house in a city, then the fire came and I tried to get out but I couldn’t open the door so the smoke went in me and I went to sleep. That when I went to wait to come here.” She says this completely nonchalantly and goes back to playing. My wife and I just look at each other totally astonished. We tried to get her to say more but she said it was all she remembered. She has no memory of it now, but she has an intense fear fire and smoke. I will never forget that conversation.
We must ask ourselves what could be the reason for these bizarre occurrences that seem to defy the well-defined laws of physics, time, and other seemingly immutable constraints on reality. One belief that has gained some following is that we are indeed already living inside a sophisticated computer simulation. This belief resides in the postulation that any civilization, once advanced to a significant enough degree, will employ simulation technology in order to analyze the behaviors of sentient beings in different environments and situations, the purpose of which would be to identify the most beneficial courses of action for the controlling beings. In other words, before attempting some drastic alteration in societal norms, for example, they might enact the intended changes on a set of virtual consciousnesses and observe the outcome in order to determine the efficacy of the proposed change. For any of you who have played games in the Sims franchise, you would have a reasonable, albeit rudimentary, understanding of this concept. The glitches we encounter, then, are explained by the assertion that we currently reside in a simulated world, and the programmers sometimes make a few observable mistakes. For some not-so-light reading on the subject, I would recommend checking out this paper on the Simulation Argument.
The Many-Worlds Interpretation and the Mandela Effect
The suggestion above regarding our reality may not be easily accepted by many individuals, and rightly so, since it implies that we are nothing more than fabricated, programmed puppets enacting sequences of complex code, unaware of our masters and acting out an existence of little or no meaning. Let us then explore a different perspective on reality and the reason for these hiccups in continuity: the Many-Worlds Interpretation.
To simplify an extraordinarily complex and oft-confusing theory, the Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) supposes that we, as we exist at this moment, are merely one of an infinite number of “versions” of our reality. Some interpretations suppose that each and every choice made by every individual, no matter how seemingly insignificant, spawns an entirely new reality based solely on the outcome of that choice. Hence, some realities may be nearly indistinguishable from another, save for some minute mutation rendered by the thoughtless choice of a random individual. Since these realities reside so closely together (think of soap bubbles pressed together, an oft used analogy), it is not uncommon for “slips” to occur between worlds, which is where the Mandela Effect comes into play.
The Mandela Effect, as defined by the reddit community of the same name, is described as “The phenomenon where a group of people discover that a global fact – one they feel they know to be true and have specific personal memories for – has apparently changed in the world around them.“. The name is derived from the commonly held recollection by a large portion of the population that iconic personality Nelson Mandela had passed away while imprisoned long before his actual death in December 2013. The realization of this inconsistency between memory and reality began a period of heightened awareness that accentuated numerous other disparities, some of which I identify with personally. One example that particularly drew my interest is the apparent change in the name of a popular children’s book series that I, along with MANY other people, noticed since this phenomena came to light.
As a child born in 1986, I have fond and very distinct memories of reading stories about the escapades of the Berenstein Bears. Yet when you search online, or anywhere else for that matter, for information on this series, it is listed under the name Berenstain Bears. This isn’t some change made by the publishers along the way, either; it is purported that the name has always existed as the latter incarnation. While this may seem to be an inconsequential issue to many, it serves as a prime example of the Mandela Effect – a specific personal memory of a global fact that has apparently changed in the world around us. There are plentiful examples of similar inconsistencies when one is simply willing to look for them, and it begs the question of whether the assumed persistence of our state of reality is really such a reliable supposition.
Whether the Matrix or Multiverse or Mandela Effect is in play here, one is hard pressed to argue that there isn’t indeed something out of the ordinary occurring to many individuals who call this reality home, myself included. If we concede the possibility of any of these notions, which in all honesty we can’t rightfully ignore, then we open the door to an infinite number of additional theories for the peculiar and wonderful and terrifying happenings in this ontological persistence. So do me a favor: forget what you see through the peephole, unfasten the deadbolt, and turn the knob to open the door to the magnificent possibilities that await on the other side of unhindered understanding. You may find the other side just as fascinating and inviting as I have.