Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I've Got A Knife To Cut Out The Memories

This post may seem all over the place or confusing to some, but bear with me. There is a point.

Well, sort of.

When I was little, I read a lot. Still do, obviously. But before all the novels I adored, there were the usual children's books. People my age should remember these: Robert Munsch. Clifford the Big Red Dog. Little Critters. And a series of children's books about a family of bears, one that I always knew as Berenstein Bears.
Looks right to me.
In recent years, it has come to light that anyone who clearly remembers The Berenstein Bears was incorrect - they did not exist. Instead, the books were actually about The BerenSTAIN Bears. For everyone who, like myself, remembers for a fact that they owned BerenSTEIN Bears books with that specific spelling, there is no proof of it. No books can be found with that spelling, the publishers swear they never happened... But isn't it strange that a huge number of people (and I do mean a lot) are so sure that they owned these books? In fact, I was so sure of it because I pronounced it Beren-steen. Still do. And as a bookworm spelling freak little girl/adult, I've never been one to mis-remember words.

This debate - believe it or not - has caused an uproar all over the ol' internet, being referred to as part of something called The Mandela Effect. It's when a large number of people have incredibly specific memories of something that never actually occurred, like how many all over the world are adamant that they remember Nelson Mandela dying while in prison in the 80's. But he didn't. He died in 2013, long after he was in prison.

Another more recently discovered example of this is about a 90's movie. Does anyone recall the film called Shazaam, where Sinbad played a genie? A lot of people remember it. But it didn't exist. There was a movie called Kazaam with Shaq as the genie, but people somehow clearly recall a different movie with Sinbad. They remember it so well that when Shaq's movie came out, they thought it was a rip-off of Sinbad's.

There are a few theories as to how The Mandela Effect happens. One is that everyone who clearly remembers these non-existent things were actually in a parallel universe or alternate reality (which would mean I'm a dork in all realities). Another theory is that it's all just the power of suggestion - someone says they remember it a specific way, so others start to believe they did too.

Since The Mandela Effect was coined by a paranormal expert (I guess that's a thing), it's probably worth mentioning that psychologists actually call this confabulation. In this case, that means mis-remembering and creating a false narrative without conscious effort.

Go crazy? Don't mind if I do.
Why am I writing about this? I mean, the Sinbad thing doesn't affect me, and I'm aware that Nelson Mandela did not die in prison. But for me, the Berenstein / Berenstain thing was a mind trip. I'm so sure that my books were Berenstein. And while I could likely shrug it off eventually and think maybe I'm just wrong, there's someone else who is rarely wrong. My mom.

While in a book store a couple of months ago, I asked if she remembered the Berenstein Bears. She did. So I told her that they never existed, and that it was actually Berenstain Bears. My mom, who remembers everything and can usually be relied upon to be correct (yes, I just admitted that) was almost as adamant as I am.

I owned Berenstein Bears books. Not Berenstain Bears books. Didn't I?

Researching all of this can lead you into a deep, dark rabbit hole until you're fairly certain you've gone nuts. So here's where you come in. What do you remember? Did you ever own a Berenstein Bears book? Do you recall Nelson Mandela dying in prison? And when you think of genie movies from the 90's, are you picturing Sinbad?

It amazes me that thousands upon thousands of strangers can incorrectly recall the exact same insignificant thing. So go ahead, amaze me more. I'll be over here, crying & rocking in a corner with my non-existent Berenstein Bears books, certain I've gone insane.

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